SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 65
April 10, 1997
|FROM:||Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
|SUBJECT:||Commonwealth v. Riley: Fourth Circuit Decision|
On March 31, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued the order mandating its decision of February 5 in the above-referenced case. In this decision, the full court reversed the decision of an earlier three-Judge panel and ruled that the United States Department of Education may not withhold federal special education funds because the Virginia Department of Education, through special education regulations, permits local school divisions to apply the same disciplinary procedures to properly expelled or long-term suspended* students with disabilities as are applied to non-disabled students. Based upon this ruling, school divisions may continue to follow those procedures required in Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Students with Disabilities in Virginia, 3.3, 11, which state "[I]f there is no causal connection and if the child was appropriately placed at the time of the misconduct, the child may be disciplined the same as a nondisabled child." Disciplinary action may include cessation of services. Based upon this ruling, the Department of Education will assume no responsibility for students with disabilities who are properly expelled or suspended, effective March 31, 1997. All information received on any students expelled or suspended on or after this date will be returned. Further information is forthcoming about the status of those students currently being served through Option I, Option II, or Option III. Services to these students should continue until appropriate procedures can be developed. Questions about this matter may be referred to H. Douglas Cox, Director, Office of Special Education and Student Services at (804) 225-2402. RTL/dc * "Properly expelled or long-term suspended" means that a determination has been made in accordance with procedures specified in the regulations that the student's misconduct is unrelated to the student's disability and the student was appropriately placed at the time of the misconduct.