Can a Child With Special Needs Be Excluded From School?

Can a Child With Special Needs Be Excluded From School
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In an era of inclusivity and diversity, whether a child with special needs can be excluded from school is challenging and controversial. The educational landscape has evolved significantly over the years, and the rights of students with disabilities have gained prominence.

This blog post will explore the complex issue of excluding children with special needs from school. We will delve into the legal and ethical aspects, the impact on students, and alternative approaches that foster an inclusive and supportive learning environment.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The cornerstone of special education in the United States, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), guarantees students with disabilities the right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This means schools are legally obligated to provide tailored educational services to children with special needs.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) further prohibits discrimination based on disability, extending the protection of civil rights to individuals with disabilities, including students. ADA ensures access to educational programs, services, and facilities.

Can a Child With Special Needs Be Excluded From School?

While exclusion may seem like an easy solution to the challenges educators and students face, it can have serious repercussions for the child’s development and future opportunities.

In many countries, legal frameworks are in place to protect the rights of children with disabilities and ensure their equal access to education. These laws emphasize the importance of providing reasonable accommodations and individualized support to meet each child’s unique needs.

However, despite these legal protections, instances of exclusion still occur. One reason for this may be educators’ lack of awareness or understanding about how best to support children with special needs in mainstream classrooms.

In some cases, schools may argue that they do not have the resources or expertise to educate these students and their peers effectively.

This raises questions about funding allocations and professional development opportunities for teachers who work with children with diverse learning requirements.

Instead of resorting to exclusion as a first response, it is crucial for schools to embrace inclusion as an opportunity for growth and understanding among all members of the educational community.

By focusing on creating inclusive environments that accommodate everyone’s needs and strengths, schools can foster greater acceptance and empathy among students while mitigating any potential drawbacks associated with separating children based on their abilities or disabilities.

Exclusionary Practices: A Historical Perspective

Historically, exclusionary practices were pervasive in education. Children with disabilities were often denied access to mainstream schools and placed in separate, often inferior, facilities.

However, the landscape began to change with landmark court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and Mills v. Board of Education (1972), emphasizing the importance of inclusive education.

Exclusionary Reasons and Their Implications

While the legal framework is clear, there are instances where schools attempt to exclude children with special needs. Let’s explore some of the reasons behind these exclusionary practices and their implications:

Lack of Resources

Some schools argue that they lack the necessary resources to accommodate children with disabilities adequately. This may include specialized staff, equipment, or facilities. Excluding students can seem like a cost-effective solution, but it raises questions about equal access to education.

Disruption to Other Students

Another argument is that students with special needs can disrupt the learning environment for other students. While it is crucial to consider the needs of all students, it is equally important to provide support and strategies to manage disruptions without resorting to exclusion.

Maintaining High Academic Standards

Some schools may exclude students with special needs to maintain high academic standards. This raises concerns about academic discrimination and whether these standards include diverse learning styles and abilities.

The Impact of Exclusion of Children with Special Needs from School

Excluding a child with special needs from school can have far-reaching consequences. Here are some of the significant impacts:

Emotional and Psychological Effects

Exclusion can lead to feelings of isolation and inadequacy in children with special needs. It can adversely affect their self-esteem and mental health, potentially leading to long-term emotional scars.

Lost Educational Opportunities

When excluded from school, children miss valuable learning experiences and social interactions essential for their development.

Exclusionary practices that violate the legal rights of children with special needs can lead to legal action against the school district. This tarnishes the school’s reputation and can result in financial penalties.

Alternatives to Exclusion

Inclusivity and support should be the guiding principles in education. Here are some alternatives to exclusion that can benefit both children with special needs and their peers:

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

IEPs are customized plans that outline the specific educational needs and goals of a student with disabilities. These plans ensure the child receives the necessary support while remaining in the mainstream classroom.

Behavioral Interventions

Schools can employ behavioral interventions and support systems to address disruptive behavior effectively, ensuring a positive learning environment for all students.

Teacher Training

Investing in teacher training to handle diverse learning needs is essential. Educators with the right tools can create inclusive classrooms catering to every student.

How Can You Prevent Your Special Need Child From Being Excluded?

It makes sense that you, as the parent of a kid with special needs, are concerned about expulsion. You may take a few things to reduce the likelihood of this occurring at all, though.

Speak with the school.

You should first speak with the school directly. If you have a child with special needs, you should do your homework before selecting a school.

It’s crucial to enquire about their behavior guidelines, the resources available to support your child’s academic growth, and how they will bend the rules to accommodate your needs.

It will be simpler for you, your child, and their teachers as they become older to find a school that accommodates both special needs students and teaches them the good and bad behaviors.

Locate a School That Is Special Needs-Oriented

Finding a school intended for kids with special needs or for the specific issue your child has is another option you have. This will imply that they employ teachers who have received specialized training and experience dealing with the behavior of children with special needs and that they have access to all the resources necessary to care for your child.

Additionally, the school will be willing to relax rules for kids with specific problems, so the only behavior that would cause them to be excluded wouldn’t be a direct outcome of their disorder.

Think about homeschooling

There is always the option to homeschool if none of these options sound acceptable. Depending on your child’s condition, it could be advantageous to lessen the worry and tension associated with the prospect of exclusion. Currently, the number of kids attending home school in the UK is rapidly rising.

Making the decision to homeschool your child is a major step, so you should carefully examine the benefits and drawbacks before deciding.

Which Children with Special Needs Become the Most Disruptive?

Most people automatically associate noisy, disruptive children who hinder other students’ learning abilities when they hear about children with special needs.

This isn’t true at all for most conditions, though. Given the variety of illnesses, it’s critical to know which ones make kids the most disruptive to determine whether your child will be excluded.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) As the name implies, ODD is a syndrome that makes kids disobey their parents, teachers, and other adults who are in positions of authority. While many children exhibit these traits occasionally, the illness makes them act with intense anger and disagreement for months or years.

If your child has ODD, there’s a good chance that they’ll unintentionally disturb other kids’ learning, so as a parent, it’s critical that you figure out how to handle the challenges that come with the disorder to keep your kid out of trouble.

Behavior Disorder (CD)

Children with CD disobey rules more frequently than typical kids, making CD extremely comparable to ODD. The sole distinction between the two is that children with Conduct Disorder frequently break social norms and are anti-social toward others, whereas children with ODD only defy parental expectations.

Again, parents must exercise caution when deciding where to send their kids to school and how to handle domestic chaos to ensure that school disruption is minimal.

Disorder of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity (ADHD)

One of the most prevalent conditions in children of school age is ADHD. However, certain severe conditions result in children becoming exceedingly disruptive and extremely difficult to control (the hyperactivity aspect of the disorder). Most children with ADHD will disrupt classrooms and may find concentrating difficult.

The good news is that many treatments can be used to lessen the severity of the condition, particularly at a young age, and that because the special need is so well-known throughout the world, teachers and other students will frequently have more patience with children if they are aware of their situation.


Autism is a challenging condition to manage and another one that affects a child’s behavior in school, potentially leading to expulsion. Since the disorder’s severity can vary greatly, some people live their entire lives without ever realizing they have it.

However, it can make people with severe autism worry in social situations and become perplexed or irate at the actions of those around them.

At first, dealing with children who are autistic might be challenging for parents, but as they get older and begin to comprehend the disorder, it gets easier. However, a sizable portion of school expulsions involve autistic children due to the nature of the disorders.

Regardless of your child’s ailment, remember that schools will always be understanding and give your child some leeway, even though children with the above conditions are most prone to cause problems.


The question of whether a child with special needs can be excluded from school is a complex and contentious one. While legal protections and ethical considerations argue for inclusion, there are still challenges and misconceptions that persist.

Our collective responsibility is to champion inclusive education and provide the necessary support and resources to ensure no child is left behind. Doing so, we pave the way for a more equitable and compassionate society where every child can thrive in an inclusive educational environment.


Can a school exclude a child with special needs without parental consent?

Generally, schools cannot exclude a child with special needs without following the proper legal procedures, which usually involve parental consent or legal actions.

How can schools promote inclusivity?

Schools can promote inclusivity through staff training, creating a supportive environment, and fostering student understanding.

What can parents do if their child is wrongfully excluded?

Parents should seek legal counsel and file a complaint with the appropriate authorities to protect their child’s rights.

Are there any consequences for schools that exclude children with special needs wrongfully?

Schools that wrongfully exclude children with special needs may face legal consequences, including lawsuits and loss of funding.

Can a child with special needs be placed in a separate classroom?

Yes, but this should be part of an inclusive plan, not an exclusion. Separate classrooms should provide specialized support and accommodations.



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