Occasionally, a student’s behavior is such that it infringes on the rights of other students to a free and appropriate public education. The entire school community recognizes the gravity of such situations, reacts to them in a calculated way, and follows procedure in doing so. The amount of due process to which a student is entitled before a penalty is imposed depends on the penalty being imposed. In all cases, regardless of the penalty imposed, the school personnel authorized to impose the penalty must inform the student of the alleged misconduct and must investigate, to the extent necessary, the facts surrounding the alleged misconduct. All students will have an opportunity to present their version of the facts to the school personnel imposing the disciplinary penalty in connection with the imposition of the penalty.
1. Suspension from Transportation
If a student does not conduct himself/herself properly on the bus, the bus driver is expected to bring such misconduct to the attention of the building principal. Students who become a serious disciplinary problem may have their riding privileges suspended by the building principal, the superintendent or his designees. In such cases, the students’ parents become responsible for seeing to it that the student gets to and from school safely. Should the suspension from transportation amount to a suspension from attendance, the district will make appropriate arrangements to provide for the student’s education. A student subjected to a suspension from transportation is not entitled to a full hearing pursuant to Education Law 3214. However, the student and the student’s parent will be provided with a reasonable opportunity for an informal conference with the building principal or the principal’s designee to discuss the conduct and the penalty involved.
2. Alternative Instruction
A student assigned to alternative instruction is not entitled to a full hearing pursuant to Education Law §3214. However, the student and the student’s parent will be provided with a reasonable opportunity for an informal conference with the district official imposing the Alternative Education to discuss the conduct and the penalty involved.
3. Teacher disciplinary removal of disruptive students
A student’s behavior can affect a teacher’s ability to teach and can make it difficult for other students in the classroom to learn. In most instances the classroom teacher can control a student’s behavior and maintain or restore control over the classroom by using good classroom management techniques. These techniques may include practices that involve the teacher directing a student to briefly leave the classroom to give the student an opportunity to regain his or her composure and self-control in an alternative setting. Such practices may include, but are not limited to:
(1) sending a student to the principal’s office for the remainder of the class time only; or
(2) sending a student to a guidance counselor or other district staff member for counseling. Time-honored classroom management techniques such as these do not constitute disciplinary removals for purposes of this code.
On occasion, a student’s behavior may become disruptive. For purposes of this code of conduct, a disruptive student is a student who is substantially disruptive of the educational process or substantially interferes with the teacher’s authority over the classroom. A substantial disruption of the educational process or substantial interference with a teacher’s authority occurs when a student demonstrates a persistent unwillingness to comply with the teacher’s instructions or repeatedly violates the teacher’s classroom behavior rules.
If the disruptive student does not pose a danger or on-going threat of disruption to the academic process, the teacher must provide the student with an explanation for why he or she is being removed and an opportunity to explain his or her version of the relevant events before the student is removed. Only after the informal discussion may a teacher remove a student from class. A classroom teacher may remove a disruptive student from class for up to three days, providing that the procedure below has been followed and failed to modify the student’s behavior.
- When the teacher first identifies the student as a disruptive influence, the teacher should speak to the students and remind the student of the pertinent sections of the code. At this point a detention may be assigned.
- If the behavior continues, the teacher shall contact the parent to discuss the student’s behavior. The teacher will also inform an administrator that such a contact has been made.
- If the student continues to be a disruption in class, the teacher will consult with other of the student’s teachers to learn any classroom management techniques that may be successful with that individual and implement them when appropriate.
- The removal from class applies to the class in which the offenses occur only.
- If the student poses a danger or ongoing threat of disruption, the teacher may order the student to be removed immediately. The teacher must, however, explain to the student why he or she was removed from the classroom and give the student a chance to present his or her version of the relevant events within 24-hours. In this situation, the teacher must present a written explanation for the removal to the principal or his or her designee as soon as possible, but no later than the end of the school day. If the principal or designee is not available by the end of the same school day, the teacher must leave the form with the secretary and meet with the principal or designee prior to the beginning of classes on the next school day.
The teacher shall mail this written explanation (in the case of a student who poses a danger or on-going threat) or documentation that the process proscribed above has been followed to the parent of the student within 24 hours. The notice must also inform the parent that he or she has the right, upon request, to meet informally with the principal or the principal’s designee to discuss the reasons for the removal. In addition to the written notice, the teacher shall contact the parent by telephone.
The principal may require the teacher who ordered the removal to attend the informal conference. If at the informal meeting the student denies the charges, the principal or the principal’s designee must explain why the student was removed and give the student and the student’s parents a chance to present the student’s version of the relevant events. The informal meeting must be held within 48 hours of the student’s removal. The timing of the informal meeting may be extended by mutual agreement of the parent and principal. The principal or the principal’s designee may overturn the removal of the student from class if the principal finds any one of the following:
- The charges against the student are not supported by substantial evidence.
- The student’s removal is otherwise in violation of law, including the district’s code of conduct.
- The conduct warrants suspension from school pursuant to Education Law §3214 and a suspension will be imposed.
The principal or his or her designee may overturn a removal at any point between receiving the referral form issued by the teacher and the close of business on the day following the 48-hour period for the informal conference, if a conference is requested. No student removed from the classroom by the classroom teacher will be permitted to return to the classroom until the principal makes a final determination, or the period of removal expires, whichever is less. Any disruptive student removed from the classroom by the classroom teacher shall be assigned to the alternative instruction room during the period of that class to participate in appropriate teacher generated instruction and activities until he or she is permitted to return to the classroom. A complete log for all cases of removal of students from class shall be kept in the alternative instruction room.
Removal of a student with a disability, under certain circumstances, may constitute a change in the student’s placement. Accordingly, no teacher may remove a student with a disability from his or her class until he or she has verified with the principal or the chairperson of the Committee on Special Education that the removal will not violate the student’s rights under state or federal law or regulation.
4. Suspension from school
Suspension from school is a severe penalty, which may be imposed only upon students who are insubordinate, disorderly, violent or disruptive, or whose conduct otherwise endangers the safety, morals, health or welfare of others.
The board retains its authority to suspend students, but places primary responsibility for the suspension of students with the superintendent and the building principals.
Any staff member may recommend to the superintendent or the principal that a student be suspended. All staff members must immediately report and refer a violent student to the principal or the superintendent for a violation of the code of conduct.
The superintendent or principal, upon receiving a recommendation or referral for suspension or when processing a case for suspension, shall gather the facts relevant to the matter and record them for subsequent presentation, if necessary.
a. Short-term (5 days or less) suspension from school
When the superintendent or principal (referred to as the “suspending authority”) proposes to suspend a student charged with misconduct for five days or less pursuant to Education Law §3214(3), the suspending authority must immediately notify the student orally. If the student denies the misconduct, the suspending authority must provide an explanation of the basis for the proposed suspension. The suspending authority must also notify the student’s parents in writing that the student may be suspended from school. The notice should also be provided by telephone.
The notice shall provide a description of the charges against the student and the incident for which suspension is proposed and shall inform the parents of the right to request an immediate informal conference with the principal. Both the notice and informal conference shall be in the dominant language or mode of communication used by the parents. At the conference, the parents shall be permitted to ask questions of complaining witnesses under such procedures as the principal may establish.
The notice and opportunity for an informal conference shall take place before the student is suspended unless the student’s presence in school poses a continuing danger to persons or property or an ongoing threat of disruption to the academic process. If the student’s presence does pose such a danger or threat of disruption, the notice and opportunity for an informal conference shall take place as soon after the suspension as is reasonably practicable.
After the conference, the principal shall promptly advise the parents in writing of his or her decision. The principal shall advise the parents that if they are not satisfied with the decision and wish to pursue the matter, they must file a written appeal to the superintendent within five business days, unless they can show extraordinary circumstances precluding them from doing so. The superintendent shall issue a written decision within 10 business days of receiving the appeal. If the parents are not satisfied with the superintendent’s decision, they must file a written appeal to the board of education with the district’s clerk within 10 business of the superintendent’s decision, unless they can show extraordinary circumstances precluding them from doing so. Only final decisions of the board may be appealed to the Commissioner within 30 days of the decision.
b. Long-term (more than 5 days) suspension from school
When the superintendent or building principal determines that a suspension for more than five days may be warranted, he or she shall give reasonable notice to the student and the student’s parents of their right to a fair hearing. At the hearing the student shall have the right to be represented by counsel, the right to question witnesses against him or her and the right to present witnesses and other evidence on his or her behalf.
The superintendent shall personally hear and determine the proceeding or may, in his or her discretion, designate a hearing officer to conduct the hearing. The hearing officer shall be authorized to administer oaths and to issue subpoenas in conjunction with the proceeding before him or her. A record of the hearing shall be maintained, but no stenographic transcript shall be required. A tape recording shall be deemed a satisfactory record. The hearing officer shall make findings of fact and recommendations as to the appropriate measure of discipline to the superintendent. The report of the hearing officer shall be advisory only, and the superintendent may accept all or any part thereof.
An appeal of the decision of the superintendent may be made to the board that will make its decision based solely upon the record before it. All appeals to the board must be in writing and submitted to the district clerk within 10 business days of the date of the superintendent’s decision, unless the parents can show that extraordinary circumstances precluded them from doing so. The board may adopt in whole or in part the decision of the superintendent. Final decisions of the board may be appealed to the Commissioner within 30 days of the decision.