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Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305

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Sara Midura

on 15 October 2013

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Transcript of Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305

Honig v. DOE, 484 U.S. 305
The significance of this case was that it was the first and only case to try this law, and it ruled that if a student with a disability acts out as a result of his disability, he or she may not be suspended for more than 10 days or expelled.
Because of this ruling, emotionally disturbed students are now considered to be disabled
My Opinion
I believe that the court made the correct decision in this ruling. In my opinion, a student should not be severely punished for behavior that they cannot control, even if it seems unfair to other students. Since the exception is in place about expulsion if there is proof of weapons, bodily injury, etc., I believe that this ruling is fair. Since they struggle with controlling their actions more than children without disabilities, they should not be taken out of their school placement for such behavior. They should be punished so that they can learn what is right and wrong, but I think that the 10 day limit is fair.
I also believe that the court made the correct call with the "stay-put" provision. I agree with this because it aligns with the United States belief in "innocent until proven guilty". Since there must be a hearing to decide whether the action was caused by the students' disability or not, the student should be allowed to continue on in classes and schooling until a verdict is reached, because if he or she is decided to not be punished, they will have already been punished by missing school during the hearing.
This court case is extremely important for educators to know, because this is a very possible situation that could occur to any teacher.
An example of a scenario could be:
You are a teacher with a student that has an IEP. He has Tourette's Syndrome, and has occasional verbal outbursts. One day at recess a student is teasing him and he blurts out everything that he is thinking in his head, including a lot of curse words and physical threats to the bullying student. He is sent to the principal's office because this is breaking a few school rules. The principal decides that day to suspend the student for 11 days.
As his teacher, it would be important for you to know this court case, because then you would be aware of the issues in the principals' decision. First of all, the student must be provided with a hearing in order to determine if this behavior was caused by his disability or not. This hearing must occur before any decision of punishment is decided. Second of all, since this student is a student with an IEP, he may not be suspended for more than 10 days.
Define and Explain
Public Law 94-142 addresses providing a free and appropriate public education for all students with disabilities, but it fails to discuss what should happen in the case of disciplining these students.

What should the protocol be for disciplining a student that is acting up as a result of their disability? This question is the premise of the Honig vs. DOE
Extra Facts
What happened?
2 students with emotional disabilities and aggressive tendencies in the San Francisco school district were being faced with expulsion. They were both placed on Individualized Education Plans and therefore were covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

One was a 17-year-old boy with trouble controlling his temper ("John Doe"). He was constantly taunted because of his appearance and social awkwardness, and one day he retaliated and strangled a classmate's neck. While being escorted to the principal's office he kicked in a window. While his hearing to decide his punishment was taking place, he was not allowed to attend school. He was also recommended for expulsion. His mother went to court to argue the "stay-put" provision.

Another was a middle schoolboy with emotional disabilities after being abused as a child and determined eligible for special education services in second grade. His hyperactivity and low self-esteem from this disability caused him to steal money, and to make sexual comments to other students. He was suspended prior to having a hearing about his punishment. His family went to court to argue that he should have been given a hearing prior to the decision to suspend him.

What did the Court do?
This case was argued on November 9, 1987 and decided January 20, 1988
It was fought between the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Bill Honig and the Department of Education
This was argued as a Supreme Court case
The courts decided to combine these two cases for one court case, arguing the acceptable limits of disciplining students with a disability and the legality of changing a student with a disability's educational placement. The law under review was the Education of the Handicapped Act (now the IDEA).

3 issues addressed
The court needed to decide whether the issue was moot for one of the students (Doe) since he was no longer eligible under IDEA
It was decided that the issue was moot for Doe, since when the case was reviewed he was 24 and IDEA covers students from age 3 to 21
Issue #1
Issue #2
Issue #3
The court ruled that a state official must provide the appropriate services to the student with a disability if the local boards fail to provide
The "stay-put" provision was under review in putting in a dangerousness exception
This provision prohibits school officials from changing the school placement of students with disabilities who are under review for their behavior
The court refused to create the exception; so while the students' situation is being reviewed to see if their actions were a manifestation of their disability, legally they will stay in their education placement no matter how dangerous the behavior was.
6-2 in favor of the students
A school may not suspend or expel a student who has an IEP for more than 10 days unless the situation involves proof of weapons, drugs, or serious bodily injury.
A simple video with some humor
to help better understand the
significant factors of this case.
This was the first Supreme Court case addressing the discipline of special education students
These were two separate cases, but since they were arguing for basically the same thing the Supreme Court combined the two
The Court was divided in deciding whether or not the state should step in if the local boards are not providing appropriate services
Larry Bartlett. Exceptional Children. Jan 1989 v55 n4 p357(10).
Honig v. Doe
Honig v. Doe - 484 U.S. 305 (1988)
Brief History of Special Education Court Cases
Emotional Disturbance
Sara Midura
Full transcript