National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

Fighting the School to Prison Pipeline: 
IDEA, 504, and the ADA, and School Discipline

Ellen Saideman, J.D.

For far too many children with disabilities, school serves as a pipeline to prison. Even elementary school students have been subjected to punitive disciplinary proceedings for minor matters, with schools relying on “zero tolerance policies.” School discipline, even for minor infractions and truancy, can bring children to the attention of juvenile courts and police. Thus, schools refer students for prosecution in the criminal justice system. Students with disabilities, including those labeled with psychiatric disabilities, should benefit from the protections of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The workshop will consider the multicultural aspects to punitive disciplinary proceedings as well. This workshop has as its learning goal and objective to provide training in the relevant statutes and regulations so that advocates and attorneys are equipped to represent students and protect them from entering into the school to prison pipeline.