Once you take away the legalese and the fancy fluffer-stuff, what it boils down to is- because of Columbine and "Zero Tolerance"- The school has 10 "free days" where they can suspend a child for any reason. When I say any reason, I mean any reason.
Case in point:
The principal acknowledged that she is aware that Jaysen's disabilities caused him to react to his environment the way he did. She is aware that the school has not provided the supports he needs. Supports that are in his IEP. She knows that what he said was not said with intent. She admitted to suspending him because of his disability. And it's legal. It's not very ethical, but it is legal.
Me: So when can Jaysen return to school?
Principal: Umm...well, we have to get the behavior plan up and running...
Me: We're here to finalize that today, so he will be back tomorrow.
Principal: No, he can't come back tomorrow. He can't come back until the staff feel comfortable implementing the behavior plan.
Me: And how long will it take staff to feel comfortable?
Principal: Well I just don't know. His teacher still has to go for training, and we have to find a substitute for that to happen.
Me: (How that is supposed to be my problem, I don't know.) I see.
Me: Regarding the incident, why wasn't the social worker called down to pull him aside and problem-solve? Maybe if someone would have tried to find out why he was upset, they would have gotten to the real issue?
Principal: Well, I don't know... I don't even know if...hmmmm...was she in the building...with a student...oh- she wasn't in the building that day.
Me: So you suspended him without allowing him to give his side?
Principal: Yes. I had to suspend him because he can't say things like that.
Me: But you don't have anything in place to give him support with his expressive language.
Principal: I know.
Me: You understand that he uses scripts, and could have complex vocal tics as well.
Me: And you understand that his verbal expression is limited, and his tics are involuntary.
Principal: I understand that.
Me: You realize he was just reacting to his environment.
Principal: Yes he was, but it's a general education classroom. People are going to do things like take pictures.
Me: And I'm not saying they shouldn't do things like that. What I am saying is, that you have a student with disabilities. A part of the disability is sensory hypersensitivity. You and the teacher need to be aware of this. It doesn't take any more of an effort to let him know you're going to take a picture.
Principal: I know that, but if he's that sensitive that the teacher can't even take a picture, maybe we need to discuss alternative placement for him.
Me: Remember, you haven't provided supports yet...
Val (director of Sp.ed): (who knows where I was about to go with this) What she's saying K, is that we need to be more aware of the environmental factors that could be potential triggers for Jaysen, and acknowledge that something may be triggering a behavior that we're not considering.
Principal: It's about the other kids. I know there was no intent in what he said, I suspended him because the other kids in class became very upset when he threatened the teacher.
Me: Which we still don't know he actually did.
Val: (interrupting out banter) When will Jaysen be able to return to school?
Principal: (long re-grouping pause) Umm...I'm thinking the very earliest, would be Friday.
Me: So you're still denying him access to an appropriate education until at least Friday.
Me: Let me make sure that I'm understanding this clearly before I have to leave. You are agreeing that you suspended him for something that was due to his disabilities. You are also acknowledging the school has not yet provided him the necessary supports to effectively help him succeed, and this directly effects his behavior.
Did she just admit to suspending my son for his disabilities?
Yep. And apparently she can do it for up to 10 days.
So, when I got to work, I sent her an e-mail requesting she write a supplement to Jaren's suspension letter, stating that she acknowledges that the infractions were made without intent, and her decision to suspend was based on his classmates being upset. I requested the letter be attached to his suspension letter in his file, and a copy sent to me.
She has yet to respond.