What is a Manifestation Determination?

March 21, 2019

Back in 1988, in a case called Honig v. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a school board in California had violated the law when it indefinitely suspended a student for violent and disruptive behavior that was related to his disability. The student was a seventeen-year-old who had difficulty controlling his impulses and anger, and he was eligible for special education as a student with an emotional disturbance. The case established that a student with a disability cannot be removed by a school district for more than ten school days during a school year for misconduct related to the student's disability. 


A couple of years later, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), codified this ruling by the Supreme Court with specific provisions requiring what is called a "manifestation determination" review before a school district may initiate disciplinary proceedings, such as an expulsion hearing, and change a student's school placement by removing them from school. 


The IDEA defines a change of placement for disciplinary removals as a removal of more than ten consecutive school days or a series of removals that constitute a pattern because they accumulate to more than ten days in a school year.




Section 300.519 of the Part B regulations defines “change of placement for disciplinary removals” as a “removal for more than 10 consecutive school days” or “a series of removals that constitute a pattern because they cumulate to more than 10 school days in a school year, and because of factors such as the length of each removal, the total amount of time the child is removed, and the proximity of the removals to one another.”  34 CFR §300.519(a)-(b).  





Under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, the IDEA, which is the federal law that 



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