8 steps to take if your child is facing disciplinary action

By Geri Coleman Tucker

Schools have to follow certain rules when disciplining students. If your child is accused of serious misconduct, here are some steps to take as the school decides whether it will suspend or expel your child.

Gather the facts.

Talk to the school about what happened. Get your child’s side of the story too. Ask the teacher how your child was doing before the incident. Was there any bullying going on? Were there any other problems?

If you agree with the school’s final decision...

Have your child write an apology. If your child has an , find out where special services will happen during the disciplinary period. Keep in touch with the school after the punishment so you can stay on top of behavior issues.

If you disagree with the school’s final decision...

You can appeal the decision by filing a due process complaint. You may want to consult a lawyer or an education advocate. Your local Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) may also be a good resource.

If your child has a 504 plan...

Request a meeting with the 504 team. You can use this meeting to discuss whether your child needs a functional behavioral assessment. If your child already has a behavior intervention plan, request the meeting to find out whether the interventions were being provided before the incident.

If your child has an IEP...

If your child is facing a punishment of more than 10 days, the IEP team must meet to determine if the behavior was related to your child’s disability. This is called “manifestation determination.” Prepare to speak up at this meeting.

Lay out your thoughts clearly.

Writing them down before the meeting can help you stay focused. This meeting can be an opportunity to persuade the school to take an approach that could benefit your child. Be specific about what you’re recommending and why.

Take notes about what you learn.

If other people were involved in the incident, be sure to write down their names. A written record of what happened can be very helpful later on, as people’s memories may get hazy.

Understand what consequences your child is facing.

Find out how long your child will likely have to stay at home or attend an alternative school. Ask whether the disciplinary action will be part of your child’s school record.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Geri Coleman Tucker is a freelance writer and editor and a former deputy managing editor for

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Donna Volpitta, EdD is the founder of Pathways to Empower. Her work draws on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and education.