If you’re asking this question, be sure that you’ve already asked and answered a related question, which is Should my child have been expelled?
A 504 plan protects your child from long-term disciplinary action if his behavior was related to a disability (the learning or attention issues documented in his 504 plan). This means that if the school is considering a disciplinary action that would last more than 10 days, the 504 team has to meet to determine if your child’s disability caused or contributed to the behavior. This meeting is referred to as “manifestation determination.”
The 504 team looks at the relationship between the child’s disability and behavior. It also needs to consider whether the school was implementing the 504 plan appropriately.
Usually, if the school decides your child’s behavior was related to his disability, the 504 team will come up with an alternative to expulsion. These alternatives may include conducting a functional behavioral assessment and implementing or adjusting a behavior intervention plan.
If the 504 team determines your child’s behavior was not related to his disability, then your child would be treated like any other student: the typical consequences would apply.
The school doesn’t need to have a manifestation determination meeting if your child’s offense is related to drugs, alcohol or weapons. In these circumstances, the school district can place him in an alternate educational setting for up to 45 days. This is true even if your child’s behavior was determined to be related to his disability.
Another important question to ask is how expulsion is defined in your state. In some states, being expelled from one public school means the student is expelled from every public school. Expulsion can be as short as 11 days, as long as a school year, or it can last indefinitely.
Talk to your local school district. If it’s not possible to attend another public school during the expulsion, you may want to look into online schools and other private programs.
During the expulsion, a student with a 504 plan is not entitled to accommodations or services. (This is different for students with Individualized Education Programs. Students with IEPs must continue to receive services either at home or in another setting during their expulsion.)
When your child enrolls in a new school, a 504 team will get together to set up new plan. The old plan will be in effect until the new school can hold a 504 meeting. This is sometimes called an “intake meeting.”
In the meantime, talk to your child about his social and emotional issues. You may want to think about whether it’s time to begin psychotherapy. Also, if you feel that the school made the wrong decision, you may want to consider filing a due process complaint.