Parents and educational advocates should welcome a new law passed by the Massachusetts legislature last week. The new Act, which will take effect on July 1, 2014, softens Massachusetts’ current draconian school expulsion laws. Under existing system, students can, under certain circumstances, be permanently expelled from all public schools in the Commonwealth and have no further right to an education. The new law requires schools to provide educational services to all students (both special education and regular education pupils) if the student is being excluded for more than 10 consecutive school days. These educational services can take the form of tutoring, an alternative placement, Saturday school, on-line learning, or another option that a school principal may develop. The new law also caps at 90 school days the time period that students may be suspended from school for offenses that do not involve drugs, weapons, assaults on school staff, or felony charges filed in court. The legislature has given the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Massachusetts school districts almost 2 years to implement the changes, which does raise concerns that school districts will continue to suspend and expel students without regard for their educational needs until the law takes effect. For more information on special education in Massachusetts visit the website of Topsfield Special Education Attorney Kristin Palace at www.KristinPalace.com.