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Student Discipline

Common Questions Parents Ask About School Discipline

Question #1: What happened to the other child that was involved (in an incident)?

Telling a parent what happened to another parent’s child usually amounts to a violation of the other child and family’s privacy rights. Years ago, Congress felt it important enough to pass a comprehensive law called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Law prohibits revealing information from a pupil’s record, a record such as a suspension or office referral, unless certain conditions are met. For example, one condition is a parent signing a release of information form. As adults we enjoy privacy rights in areas such as medical records, bank records, and many others. Most individuals don’t want government officials unnecessarily providing personal information to others. This is what privacy is about; privacy protections is why school personnel can’t legally tell about what happened to the other child involved in a discipline incident. Perhaps the best response to a question about what happened to the other child is to say something like, “As much as I would like to tell you, there is law that prevents me. Suffice it to say, we investigated and provided a fair consequence, when required, using our discipline code and the type of misconduct found, if any.”

Question #2: Can I talk to the other child that was involved?

Outside school hours, a student’s parent may agree to let a person talk to their child. During school hours there is no mechanism for a visitor or community member to interview a child unless they have a legal privilege. For example, the principal is given a legal privilege by law or a peace officer might have a legal privilege or duty under certain circumstances. We also need to remember that every moment the child is at school, the school is implementing either an explicit curriculum (e.g., teaching read, math) or an implicit curriculum (e.g., providing an opportunity to develop social skills). Both the legislature and the governing board expect interruptions unrelated to the educational program to be kept at an absolute minimum. The governing board has placed a duty on the principal to make sure the children are engaged in the curriculum. Disruptions are prohibited.                                           

Suspension from school means removal of a pupil from ongoing instruction for adjustment purposes (Education Code 48925 [d]). There are three types of suspension. A suspension from school requires an investigation, the provision of “due process” or fair procedures including parent notice, and is limited to grounds listed in the California Education Code. A suspension from school involves a 1-5 day removal starting the day after the incident. A suspension from class by the teacher is another type of suspension. A suspension from class, like the third type of suspension, called an on-campus suspension (or in-school suspension), can only be used for a limited, specified list of offenses.

Sending a child home for the remainder of the day is a procedure not mentioned in California statutory law. However, the procedure was described in one law suit as an emergency removal from school whereby a parent elects to remove the child for the remainder of the day providing a cooling off period and avoiding a record of suspension. Sending a child home for the remainder of the day is not a procedure recommended for difficulties other than a rare incident of misconduct. Removing a child from school for disciplinary reasons for more than the remainder of the day is a suspension. If a child has a recognized disability, all removals from school count toward the limit provided in law. The need for frequent removals is an indication a behavior plan should be developed for the student.

So, the difference between suspension and sending a child home for the remainder of the day is considerable. A suspension is a more formal procedure producing a student record. Suspension records must be maintained and, teachers must be told of the misconduct, for a three-year period after the incident. In contrast, sending a child home for the remainder of the day avoids the stigma of a suspension, involves parent agreement, and is shorter in length than even a one-day suspension.

Question #4: Does my child have the right to defend himself if he is hit first?

To reduce the likelihood of injury to everyone (students and staff), school children are taught to seek the assistance of an adult if they have been attacked. In a school setting, there is an adult, almost always, within eyesight. On the way to and from school, such help might not be as readily available.

The California Education Code mentions self defense only as removing responsibility should a student cause serious physical injury while defending himself or herself. However, to say a person has a (legal) right to defend himself requires us to define the conditions under which a person can legitimately claim such a right and what constitutes “self defense.”

In the general community, the legal privilege of “self defense” does not apply as broadly as many people think. Based on California case law, the district has adopted a legal definition of self defense as follows: “one may use the force necessary in proportion to the threat if the person reasonably believed such force was necessary against imminent unlawful force at the hands of other party.” Both this definition and the law underlying it are complex. By saying the use of force is “necessary,” it opens the distinct possibility that the child should have retreated (e.g., told the teacher) rather than responded with force. The phrase “imminent unlawful force” means it was clear that the attacker was going to use force. If, for example, one child verbally teases another child, the child teased has no right to use physical force to “defend” himself. A law professor described the self-defense privilege this way. If someone hits you with a stick, you don’t have a self-defense privilege until they raise the stick to strike you the second time.

Furthermore, in the definition of self-defense, the phrase, “in proportion to” requires a careful, calculated use of force by the person hoping to argue he had a self-defense privilege. Let’s assume an unarmed attacker, close in size to the victim, punches the victim. The victim could not claim a self defense privilege if he grabbed a baseball bat and struck the attacker in the head; such an action would not be “in proportion to” the force used by the attacker. Also consider that one typically loses any right to claim a self-defense privilege if the person has already used force (e.g., like in a fight or what is referred to as a mutual combat fight).

In conclusion, there are a limited number of circumstances under which a student could claim they have a right to defend themselves. Given the complexity and limited applicability of the self-defense privilege, it seems wise to recommend to children that they avoid fighting and to promptly report to a school authority any improper use of force. Also consider that “defending” yourself may frequently be accomplished without the use of force (e.g., moving out of the way, making it difficult to make contact with you).

Question #5: Isn’t it the school’s responsibility to handle discipline at school? My child is good at home. Why do I have to be called?

Granted, it is the school’s responsibility to handle discipline at school. We expect schools to have both a system in place to promote positive, prosocial behavior in children and to provide consequences to those engaging in prohibited conduct.

We think parents should welcome contact from the school. Both the school and parent should work together to help a student learn to follow school rules. Students who follow rules and directions at school are more likely to do the same at home (and visa versa). A parent cannot help the school if they do not know what has happened; this takes contact such as a phone call. School staff have learned that when the parent supports the school by taking interest and sharing responsibility to develop and implement action plans, students do better.

In the case of a suspension, the law requires the school to contact the parent. Once a student is suspended from school, the responsibility shifts to the parent to provide adequate supervision for the child.

Question #6: Why can’t my child stay in the office all day?

The personnel that work in a school office frequently operate under high levels of stress, juggling multiple responsibilities, and completing numerous assignments. The business of the school could not be completed without the work of these individuals. It is a fair assumption that a child cannot be provided with adequate supervision unless an employee is assigned to watch over the child and provide such assistance. However, parents and the community expect and deserve to have each child adequately supervised whenever the child is at school. Staying in the office, for whatever period of time, take the time and attention of someone. Schools are not adequately staffed to provide, in the school office, ongoing supervision. Schools also must consider the conditions under which they may be held responsible or liable for student injury. Children need to be in a situation where responsible and adequate supervision can be provided.

Question #7: The teacher does not like my child. Why are teachers always writing referrals on my kid and missing the other kids?

There is nothing wrong with asking a principal to review the rates and types of referrals submitted by your child’s teacher or to observe in the classroom to help determine if the rules of conduct are applied equally and consistently to all children. It is possible that, as a parent, you may not have a solid foundation for determining whether children other than your child are being referred. It is also possible that the children referred are the children engaging in prohibited conduct. Finally, when there have been previous incidents of misconduct, adults monitor those child(ren) more closely than the child free of previous conduct difficulties.

Suspension Alternatives

An administrator may use his or her discretion to provide alternatives to suspension or expulsion that are age appropriate and designed to address and correct a student’s misbehavior (E.C. 48900(v)).  Alternative means of corrections other than suspension or expulsion include, but are not limited to, the following: E.C. 48900.5(b)

Parent Conferences

  • A conference between the school personnel, the pupil’s parent or guardian, and the pupil.
  • Referrals to the school counselor, psychologist, social worker, child welfare attendance personnel, or other school support service personnel for case management and counseling.
  • Student Study Teams, guidance teams, resource panel teams, or other intervention-related teams that assess the behavior, and develop and implement individualized plans to address the behavior in partnership with the pupil and his or her parents.
  • Referral for a comprehensive psychosocial or psychoeducational assessment, including for the purposes of creating an individualized educational program, or a 504 plan.
  • Enrollment in a program for teaching prosocial behavior or anger management.
  • Participation in a restorative justice program.
  • A positive behavior support approach with tiered interventions that occur during the school day on campus.
  • After-school programs that address specific behavior issues or expose pupils to positive activities and behaviors, including, but not limited to, those operated in collaboration with local parent and community groups.

Emphasize Behavioral Expectations

  • Reemphasize behavioral expectations at the time the student misbehaves.
  • Employ behavior contracts to establish and reinforce behavioral expectations.
  • Collaborate with Parents/Guardians
  • Create a protocol for involving parents in discipline issues.
  • Hold a meeting with a student and his or her parent/guardian to provide feedback on misbehavior.
  • Model Constructive Conflict Resolution
  • Mediate conflicts between students and/or students and staff.
  • Use restorative justice circles to resolve disputes.

Address the Root Cause of Misbehavior

  • Require students to attend workshops on anger management or building self-esteem.
  • Refer misbehaving students to a counselor, social worker, or behavior interventionist and/or arrange for students to receive services from a counseling, mental health, or mentoring agency.
  • Keep Students in Schools
  • Require students to attend in-school suspension during lunchtime, afterschool, or on weekends, during which time they work on homework. Do not remove students from class as punishment for being tardy or misbehaving.
  • Adjust the student’s class schedule or placement to maximize academic and behavioral improvement.

Keep Students Accountable

  • Match at-risk students with an adult mentor at school.
  • Require daily or weekly check-ins with an administrator for a set period of time.
  • Use Alternatives that Teach Good Behavior
  • Require students to perform community service.
  • Require students to engage in a reflective activity, such as writing an essay about his/her misbehavior and how it affected others and/or the school community.

Suspension (Home and In-school) / Assignment Make-Up (EC 48913)

A suspended student may be allowed to complete comparable assignments. The responsibility of obtaining and doing class work lies with the student. The teacher may require the student to complete any assignments and tests missed during the suspension.

Suspension Appeal Procedures

Suspension Appealed to Principal

  • Parent/guardian contacts the Principal to appeal the suspension.
  • Principal reviews the incident with the Administration.
  • Student serves the suspension as the appeal is processed in a timely manner.

Principal’s Decision

  • After reviewing facts of the incident and affirming that student’s due process rights were or were not violated, the Principal can either: 1) uphold the suspension, 2) modify the suspension, or 3) rescind the suspension, and either meet with, email, or phone the parent/guardian to advise the appeal disposition.
  • If the parent/guardian requests to appeal the suspension to the District, the Principal provides the appeal document to the parent/guardian.
  • Student serves suspension and appeal is processed in a timely manner.

Suspension Appealed to Director of Student Services

  • Parent/guardian completes the District’s suspension appeal form and submits it to the Student Services Office.
  • Student Services Director contacts the parent/guardian and reviews the due process scope of the suspension appeal.
  • Student Services Director contacts school administration to review the incident and the suspension appeal.
  • Student Services Director does not reinvestigate the incident, but will review all documents and due process.
  • Student serves suspension as appeal is processed in a timely manner.

Appeal Decision

  • After reviewing the suspension appeal, the Student Services Director contacts parent/guardian to advise on the disposition of the suspension appeal.
  • Student Services Director can either: 1) uphold the suspension, 2) modify the suspension, or 3) rescind the suspension.
  • If the decision is to modify or rescind the suspension, Student Services Director will advise the Principal to amend the student’s record in the District’s Student Information System.
  • Student is allowed to make up any homework or tests if the suspension is modified or rescinded.
  • Student Services Director’s decision is final and cannot be appealed. 

Suspension Appeal Form

Expulsion

  1. Suspendable and expellable offenses must be related to school activity or attendance. This means that a student cannot be disciplined for off-campus conduct that is unrelated to a school event. A student may not be suspended for more than five consecutive days, unless an expulsion is recommended. E.C.  48900(s)
  2. Expulsion can be recommended only after Due Process meeting at Student Services in which a parent or guardian is invited to participate and the school district determines that the student’s presence at the school would cause a danger to persons or property or threaten disrupting the instructional process. E.C. 48911
  3. The parent/guardian and student are invited to participate in a Due Process meeting held at Student Services within five (5) days of the suspension. Schools are required to fax an expulsion referral and supporting documents to Student Services within one day of the suspension determination. Student Services will send a letter informing parent/guardian of the allegations, expulsion hearing timeline, and date of the Due Process meeting.
  4. During the Due Process meeting Student Services shall review the evidence from stakeholders and make a determination, as follows: 1.) Expulsion not substantiated and student may return to school after suspension, 2.) Expulsion waived for Stipulated Behavior Contract (Alternative Program), or 3.) Student’s presence at the school would cause a danger to persons or property or threaten disrupting the instructional process and suspension would be continued pending an Administrative Panel Hearing or Stipulated Expulsion Agreement. ECo.C. 48911
  5. A student can be expelled based on a finding that the student committed an act for which expulsion can be imposed and either one or both of the following is true: (1) other means of correcting the student’s behavior are not feasible or the school has tried and failed to correct the behavior, or (2) due to the nature of the act, the student’s presence at the school is dangerous to the student or to others. E.C.  48915(b)(e)
  6. At the time of expulsion for any offense other than those listed in section 48915(c) Student Services shall set a date no later than the last day of the semester following the semester the expulsion occurred whereby the student will be reviewed for readmission to a school maintained by the district or the last school the student attended. Further, Student Services shall create a rehabilitation plan tailored to the expelled student’s specific needs and procedures for readmission. E.C. 48916(a)(b)(c)
  7. The pupil and the pupil's parent or guardian shall be entitled to a hearing to determine whether the pupil should be expelled. An expulsion hearing shall be held within thirty (30) school days of the date the principal or superintendent determines that the pupil committed any of the acts enumerated in Section 48900.
  8. In the event that compliance by the governing board with the above time requirements is impractical, the expulsion hearing may be delayed, for good cause, up to five (5) additional days. Reasons for the extension shall be a part of the record at the time of the hearing.

E.C. 48918(a)

  1. Written notice of the hearing shall be forwarded to the pupil at least ten (10) calendar days prior to the date of the hearing E.C. 48918(b) unless waived by mutual consent of parent and school.
  2. An Administrative Panel shall conduct a hearing to consider the expulsion of a pupil in a session closed to the public unless the pupil or the pupil's parent or guardian request, in writing at least five (5) days prior to the date of the hearing, that the hearing be a public meeting. E.C. 48918(c)(d)
  3. Within three (3) school days following the hearing, the Administrative Panel shall determine whether to recommend expulsion of the pupil to the governing board. E.C. 48918 (e)
  4. The expulsion order and the causes therefore shall be recorded in the pupil's mandatory interim record and shall be forwarded to any school in which the pupil subsequently enrolls upon receipt of a request from the admitting school for the pupil's school records. E.C. 48918(i)
  5. A decision of the governing board whether to expel a pupil shall be made within ten (10) school days following the conclusion of the hearing, unless the pupil requests in writing that the decision be postponed.
  6. If the hearing is held by an administrative panel, or if the district’s governing board does not meet on a weekly basis, the governing board shall make its decision about a pupil's expulsion within 40 school days after the date of the pupil's removal from his/her school of attendance for the incident for which the recommendation for expulsion is made by the principal or the superintendent, unless the pupil requests in writing that the decision be postponed.
  7. Written notice of any decision of the governing board to expel or to suspend the enforcement of the expulsion order during a period of probation shall be sent by mail, using "proof of service" method to the student or parent or guardian. The notice shall include notification of the right to appeal the expulsion to the county board of education. E.C. 48918(i)

Special Education and 504

  1. Under federal law students receiving Special Education services are entitled to a Manifestation Determination meeting during a Pre-Expulsion IEP which must be conducted within 10 (ten) days of the recommendation for expulsion.
  2. The Pre-Expulsion IEP Team has the right to stop all expulsion proceedings if it is determined the misconduct was a manifestation of the student’s disability.
  3. Students who fall under the 504 educational umbrella have the right to have a Pre-Expulsion 504 Meeting prior to a recommendation for expulsion. The site 504 coordinator should conduct this meeting on-site.
  4. Parents must be informed of the date and time of the Pre-Expulsion IEP/504 Meeting. Their presence, although needed, is not mandatory for the Manifestation Determination IEP/504 Meeting to proceed on the scheduled date and time.

Involuntary Transfer to Continuation School

  1. Involuntary transfer may be based on any suspendable or expellable offense as well as habitual truancy or irregular attendance.
  2. Unless the principal determines that the student’s presence causes a danger to persons or property or threatens to disrupt instruction, involuntary transfer to a continuation school shall only be imposed after other means to improve student behavior have failed.
  3. Involuntary transfer to a continuation school can’t extend beyond the end of the semester following the semester during which the transferable offense occurred.
  4. The school must send written notice to the student and parent providing an opportunity to request a Due Process meeting at Student Services prior to the transfer. If the student or parent requests a meeting after receiving the notice, a meeting must be held where the student or their representative has a right to do the following:
  • Inspect all documents on which the school is basing its decision;
  • Question the school’s evidence and any witnesses the school uses;
  • Present their own evidence and witnesses; and
  • Have an advocate, interpreter, and/or witnesses at the meeting.
  • To avoid prejudice and bias, no one from the student’s school may be involved in the final transfer decision. The final decision must be made by school district personnel and/or staff from other schools.

School Discipline Due Process

1. A student may not be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion unless the superintendent or principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled determines that the student has violated E.C. 48900(A-R).

2. (E.C. 48900) No pupil shall be suspended or expelled for any of the acts enumerated unless the act is related to school activity or school attendance. A pupil may be suspended or expelled for acts which are enumerated in this section and related to school activity or attendance which occur at any time, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

     a. While on school grounds.

     b. While going to or coming from school.

     c. During the lunch period whether on or off the campus*.

     d. During, or while going to, or coming from, a school sponsored activity.

*All K-12 campuses are closed campuses. This means that students may not leave campus between periods or during lunch.

3. A student cannot be suspended for more than five (5) consecutive school days (except in an expulsion situation). (E.C. 48911 (a)). A student that is being recommended for expulsion can be suspended for more than five days if, and only if the school district superintendent or designee, has determined, following a Due Process meeting at Student Services, that the student’s presence at the school pending the expulsion hearing would cause a danger to a person or property or a threat of disrupting the instructional process. E.C. 48911(g)

4. A student cannot be suspended for being tardy or truant. E.C. 48900 (v)

5. Education Code 49079 requires that teachers be informed of a pupil’s suspension and the infraction specific to the case, as described in Education Code 48900, except for smoking. The information shall be provided confidentially to teachers for the previous three school years. All students will be held accountable for the last three years of their discipline history.

6. Students may be assigned to supervised suspension classroom for the entire suspension period if the student poses no imminent danger or threat, or if an action to expel the student has not been initiated. E.C. 48911.1(a)

7. Students accumulating 20 days of suspension are subject to involuntary transfer to an alternative program.

8. Disciplinary action will be taken if a student’s behavior is disruptive to the instructional process or causes a danger to persons or property even though the offense is not defined in this Student Conduct Code.

9. (E.C. 48904 sub-section a 4) Parental liability for willful misconduct of a minor that results in injury or death to a pupil or school employee or who willfully cuts, defaces, or otherwise injures in any way any property, real or personal, belonging to a school district or personal property of any school employee shall be liable for all damages so caused by the minor.

10. Students and parents have a right to appeal disciplinary action taken against a student. A meeting must be requested with the principal.

11. Search and Seizure: The Board authorizes school officials to conduct searches when there are reasonable grounds or suspicion that the search will uncover evidence that the student is violating the law or the rules of the District or the school. (Two staff members shall be present when searching a student.) The Board urges that discretion, good judgment, and common sense be exercised in all cases of search and seizure (BP 5145.12). Vehicles are subject to search on school property. By entering school property, the person driving any vehicle is deemed to consent to a complete search of the vehicle--all its compartment and contents-- by school officials or law enforcement personnel for any reason whatsoever. This notice applies to all vehicles of any type and is in force 24 hours a day. California Vehicle Code Section 21113 (A)

12. Each discipline referral and/or write-up shall include a detailed description of the behavior resulting in discipline. For suspension and expulsion, the description of the misconduct should also state which legal category the behavior falls under. (For example, a discipline referral for a student who repeatedly curses should include a detailed description of the behavior, including specific language used and to whom it was directed, and state the fact that suspension is pursuant to California Education Code section 48900(i), which makes “habitual profanity” a suspendable offense.)

13. Provide or permit interpreters to attend any meetings with parents whose native language is other than English to ensure better communication and full understanding of the discipline action taken. E.C. 48432.5

14. Willful Defiance 48900(k) is occurs when:

A student’s “disruption” or “defiance” has an impact on the effective or safe functioning of the school, such as continuing to remain at the scene of a fight or to instigate a disturbance after being told to stop the behavior.

Repeated disobedience to school personnel when other interventions have not been successful in modifying the misbehavior (e.g. student repeated fails to complete assigned detentions and/or work detail.)

15. Willful Defiance 48900(k) does not occur when:

A student fails to obey the valid authority of school personnel once in a non-safety- related incident.

A student refuses to give her name in a non-safety-related incident.

A student walks away from school personnel in a non-safety-related incident.

A student was not reasonably aware of a direction given by school personnel (i.e. in a noisy room, hearing problems or other disabilities, language limitations, etc.).

16. School administrators have the discretion to offer students alternatives to suspension, such as counseling and anger management.  Education Code 48900(v)

17. The discipline record of any student punished for “willful defiance” should explicitly state the specific conduct that resulted in discipline. Such detailed information will enable the student, parents, principal, and school administrators to understand what conduct led to the discipline so that it can be addressed and more appropriate behavior taught.

18. Willful defiance” shall not be used to punish attendance issues, including tardiness or truancy, failure to do homework, or habitual profanity. However, this does not preclude willful defiance applied for the repeated refusal to complete required consequences for aforementioned behavior.

19. Students have a right to remain in school. Exclusionary discipline — removing a student from a   classroom or from school — should be used in limited, specific circumstances in order to minimize the impact on a student’s opportunity to learn.

20. There should not be academic penalties during the period of time a student is suspended or expelled and a student should be able to complete her coursework.

After School Detention of Students

 

Students may be detained after school for up to 15 minutes without prior notice to the parents. Detention from 16 to 30 minutes requires a reasonable effort to give prior notice to the parent. Detention longer than 30 minutes requires prior notice to the parent. Prior notice includes telephone calls. Regardless of the length of detention, prior notice to parents must occur in cases where detention will cause a student to miss the school bus.

 

Teacher Suspension of Student

 

A teacher may suspend any pupil from the teacher’s class for any violation of E.C. 48900, for the day of the suspension and the day following. The teacher shall send the pupil to the principal/designee for appropriate action. If that action requires the continued presence of the pupil at the school site, the pupil shall be under appropriate supervision.

 

As soon as possible, the teacher shall ask the parent/guardian of the pupil to attend a parent/teacher conference regarding the suspension. If an in-person conference cannot be arranged, a telephone conference may be substituted. A school administrator shall attend the conference if the teacher or parent/guardian so request. The pupil shall not be returned to the class during the period of suspension without the concurrence of the teacher and the principal. A pupil suspended from a class shall not be placed in another regular class during the period of suspension.

Suspension Due Process

A suspension should be imposed only when other means of correction fail to bring about proper conduct. However, a student may be suspended for any of the enumerated reasons in E.C. 48900 upon first offense, if the principal determines that the student violated subdivision (a-e), of 48900 or that the student’s presence causes a danger to persons or property or threatens to disrupt the instructional process. (E.C. 48900.5)

  1. A suspension is defined a removal of a student from ongoing instruction for adjustment purposes. Suspension does not include reassignment to another class or removal from class for the remainder of the period. E.C. 48925 (d)
  2. A teacher may suspend a student for any of the reasons enumerated in E.C. 48900. A
  3. teacher may only suspend a student for two days and must meet with the parent prior to the suspension to provide due process. E.C. 48910(a) & 48911(a)
  4. Suspension by the principal or designee shall be preceded by an informal conference conducted by the principal or designee. E.C. 48911(b)
    1. At the conference, student shall be informed of the reason for disciplinary action and shall be given an opportunity to present her version and evidence in her defense.
    2. A student can be suspended without a conference if an “emergency situation” exists. E.C. 48911(c)
    3. If student is suspended without conference, both the parent and the student shall be notified of the student’s right to a conference. The conference shall be held within two (2) schooldays, unless the student waives the right or is physically unable to attend. E.C. 48911(c)
  5. At the time of the suspension, a school employee must make a reasonable effort to contact the student’s parents by telephone or in person. Whenever the student is suspended from school, the parent shall be notified in writing of the suspension. E.C. 48911(d)
  6. Each school district is authorized to establish a policy that permits school officials to conduct a meeting with the parent or guardian of a suspended student to discuss the causes, the duration, the school policy involved, and other matters pertinent to the suspension (E.C. 48914) However, a student cannot be punished for their parent not attending a meeting. That means it is illegal to suspend a student until their parent comes in for a meeting. E.C. 48922(f)

Grounds for Suspension/Expulsion Education Code §48900

A pupil may not be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion unless the superintendent or the principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled determines that the pupil has committed an act as defined pursuant to one or more of the subdivision (a) to (r) inclusive:

(a)(1)Caused, attempted to cause, or threatened to cause physical injury to another person.

(a)(2) Willfully used force or violence upon the person of another, except in self-defense.

(b) Possessed, sold, or otherwise furnished any firearm, knife, explosive, or other dangerous object, unless, in the case of possession of any such object of this type, the pupil had obtained written permission to possess the item from a certificated school employee, which is concurred in by the principal’s.

(c) Unlawfully possessed, used, sold, or otherwise furnished, or been under the influence of any controlled substance, alcoholic beverage, or an intoxicant of any kind.

(d) Unlawfully offered, arranged, or negotiated to sell any controlled substance, alcoholic beverage, or intoxicant of any kind, and then either sold, delivered, or otherwise furnished to any person another liquid, substance, or material and represented same as a controlled substance, alcoholic beverage, or intoxicant.

(e) Committed or attempted to commit robbery or extortion.

(f) Caused or attempted to cause damage to school property or private property.

(g) Stole or attempted to steal school property or private property.

(h) Possessed or used tobacco, or any products containing tobacco or nicotine products, including, but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, miniature cigars, clove cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, snuff, chew packets, and betel.

(i) Committed an obscene act or engaged in habitual profanity or vulgarity.

(j) Had unlawfully possession of, or unlawfully offered, arranged, or negotiated to sell any drug paraphernalia.

(k)(1) Disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully defied the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials, or other school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties.

(k)(2) A Pupil enrolled in K to 3, inclusive, shall not be suspended for any of the acts enumerated in this subdivision, and this subdivision shall not constitute grounds for a pupil enrolled in Kindergarten or any of the grades 1 to 12 inclusive, to be recommended for expulsion.

(l) Knowingly received stolen school property or private property.

(m) Possessed an imitation firearm (a replica of a firearm that is so substantially similar in physical properties to an existing firearm as to lead a reasonable person to conclude that the replica is a firearm.

(n) Committed or attempted to commit a sexual assault or committed a sexual battery

(o) Harassed, threatened, or intimidated a pupil who is a complaining witness or witness in a school disciplinary action.

(p) Unlawfully offered, arranged to sell, negotiated to sell, or sold the prescription drug Soma.

(q) Engaged in, or attempted to engage in hazing as defined in Section 32050.

(r) Engaged in an act of bullying. For the purposes of this subdivision, the following terms have the following meaning:

(1) “Bullying” means any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act, and including one or more acts committed by a pupil or group of pupils as defined in Section 48900.2, 48900.3, or 48900.4, directed toward one or more pupils that can be reasonably predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following:

(A) Placing a reasonable pupil or pupils in fear of harm to that pupil’s or those pupils’ person or property.

(B) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience a substantially detrimental effect on his or her physical or mental health.

(C) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with his or her academic performance.

(D) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with his or her ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.

(2)(A) “Electronic Act” means the creation or transmission originated on or off the school site, by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, a wireless telephone, or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager, of a communication, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

(i) A message, text, sound, or image.

(ii) A post on a social network Internet Web site, including but not limited to:

  1. Posting to or creating a burn page. “Burn Page” means an Internet Website created for the purpose of having one or more of the effects listed in paragraph (1).
  2. Creating a credible impersonation of another actual pupil for the purpose of having one or more of the effects listed in paragraph (1). “Credible Impersonation” means to knowingly and without consent impersonate a pupil for the purpose of bullying the pupil and such that another pupil would reasonably believe, or has reasonably believed, that the pupil was or is the pupil who was impersonated.
  3. Creating a false profile for the purpose of having one or more of the effects listed in paragraph (1). “False Profile” means a profile of a fictitious pupil or profile using the likeness or attributes of an actual pupil other the pupil who created the false profile.

(B) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) and subparagraph (A), an electronic act shall not constitute pervasive conduct solely on the basis that it has been transmitted on the Internet or is currently posted on the Internet.

 (s) A pupil may not be suspended or expelled for any of the acts enumerated unless the act is related to a school activity or school attendance occurring within a school under the jurisdiction of the superintendent or principal or occurring within any other school district.  A pupil may be suspended or expelled for acts that are enumerated in this section and related to school activity or attendance that occur at any time, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

(1) While on school grounds;

(2) While going to or coming from school;

(3) During the lunch period whether on or off the campus;

(4) During, or while going to or coming from, a school-sponsored activity.

(t) A pupil who aides who aids or abets, as defined in Section 31 of the Penal Code, the infliction or attempted infliction of physical injury to another person may suffer suspension, but not expulsion, pursuant to the provision of this section.

(u) As used in this section, “school property” includes, but is not limited to, electronic files and databases.

(v) A superintendent or principal may use their discretion to provide alternatives to suspension or expulsion, including, but not limited to, counseling and anger management program, for a pupil subject to discipline under this section.

(w) It is the intent of the Legislature that alternatives to suspensions or expulsions be imposed against any pupil who is truant, tardy or otherwise absent from school activities.

ADDITIONAL GROUNDS FOR SUSPENSION/EXPULSION

48900.2 – Sexual Harassment as defined in Section 212.5.

212.5 Sexual Harassment

“Sexual Harassment” means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, made by someone from or in the work of educational setting, under any of the following conditions:

  1. Submission to the conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of an individual’s employment, academic status, or progress.
  2. Submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis of employment or academic decisions affecting this individual.
  3. The conduct has the purpose or effect of having a negative impact upon the individual’s work or academic performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.
  4. Submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis for any decision affecting the individual regarding benefits and services, honors, programs, or activities available at or through the educational institution.

48900.3 – Students in grades 4-12 who have caused , attempted to cause, threatened to cause, or participated in an act of hate violence as defined in subdivision (3) of Section 233.

48900.4 – Students in grades 4-12 who have intentionally engaged in harassment, threats, or intimidation, directed against school district personnel or pupils, that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to have the actual and reasonable expected effect of materially disrupting class work, creating substantial disorder, and invading the rights of that pupil or group of pupils by crating an intimidating or hostile educational environment.

48900.7 – A student has made terroristic threats against school officials or school property, or both.

Discipline Investigations

According to the Education Code, any decision to suspend or expel a pupil must be based upon “substantial evidence” which follows a thorough investigation by school officials. “Substantial evidence” is a legal term which requires evidence to be: 1) reasonable in nature, 2) credible, and 3) of solid value. When conducting an investigation for the purpose of suspension or expulsion, administrators must ensure they gather evidence which would be considered “substantial” by a group of “reasonable people.”

The following types of evidence may be used alone, or in any combination, to establish “substantial evidence” so long as it is of the quality and credibility to prove the allegation.

  1. Direct evidence conclusively proves a fact without inference or presumption. Examples of direct evidence include: credible eyewitness testimony, sworn written student admission, and audio or video recordings.
  2. Circumstantial evidence requires an inference or presumption of fact. Examples of circumstantial evidence include: a weapon found on the scene or controlled substance found on the scene.

Prior to suspending or recommending a student for expulsion, administrators must conduct a thorough investigation following all due process requirements. Suspension and expulsion recommendations which do not follow a thorough investigation may be reversed — i.e., the suspension expunged from the record, the recommendation for expulsion is terminated, and the student returned to the recommending site.

Procedures for Gathering Evidence

  1. Disciplinary notes shall:
    • provide a clear outline of the incident — all descriptions should be brief, easily understood, arranged in chronological order, and provide an accurate portrayal of the details
    • indicate the exact time and date of the incident
    • specify the name of person(s) present or involved in any degree — include all adult witnesses, student witnesses, and potential suspects
    • indicate the location of incident
  2. Witness statement shall:
    • be collected from all witnesses
    • be conducted at the time of the incident — if circumstances prohibit interviewing witnesses at the time, interviews must be conducted as soon as possible
    • be in the witnesses’ original handwriting — except in cases of disability
    • be as specific and detailed as possible
    • be reviewed for clarity
    • include date/location where written
    • contain all names of accused and/or victims
  3. Administrator statements must be accurate and factually based
  4. All evidence submitted — photos, maps, and diagrams — must clearly relate to the alleged violation
  5. All conclusions must be based solely on the facts in evidence — personal opinions may not be included
  6. The appropriate Education Code violation must be determined once all facts are gathered
  7. Written documentation of the investigation findings must be included in the discipline file.