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Student Discipline

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William Allan Kritsonis, PhD - Student Discipline, Regular School Discipline, Discipline by Administrators, Discipline by Teachers, Coporal Punishment, Due Process, Unfair Treatment, Discrimination, …

William Allan Kritsonis, PhD - Student Discipline, Regular School Discipline, Discipline by Administrators, Discipline by Teachers, Coporal Punishment, Due Process, Unfair Treatment, Discrimination, Excessive Force

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  • 1. Student Discipline William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
  • 2. Suspension v. Expulsion
    • TEC states that a student may be suspended from school if the student engages in conduct identified in the student code of conduct for which a student may be suspended—the local school district is authorized to decide what types of offenses should call for a suspension.
    • Suspension is designed as a short-term disciplinary action. Under TEC 37.005 suspension is limited to three days per offense, but there is no limit on the number of suspensions that might be imposed on a student, provided that each is for a separate incident of misconduct. This applies only to out-of-school suspension, not in-school suspension.
  • 3. Suspension v. Expulsion
      • Expulsion is the harshest penalty the school can impose, and thus is reserved for only the most serious offenses and is available only with students who are at least 10 years old.
        • TEC 37.007 spells out several types of conduct that require expulsion from school. They are: (1) possession of weapons
        • (2) assaultive offenses
        • (3) arson
        • (4) murder, capital murder, criminal attempt to commit murder or capital murder
        • (5) indecency with a child
        • (6) aggravated kidnapping
        • (7) drug or alcohol offenses if punishable as a felony
        • (8) retaliatory commission of an expellable offense against a school employee.
      • The first 7 must occur on school property or school-related function, but retaliation is expellable no matter where it took place.
  • 4. Suspension v. Expulsion
      • A district has discretion over the following offenses:
        • (1) serious or persistent misconduct while placed in a DAEP
        • (2) drug or alcohol offenses, if not punishable as a felony
        • (3) inhalant offenses
        • (4) criminal mischief if punishable as a felony.
    • Most students will be expelled from the school programs (including DAEP) to a Juvenile Justice AEP (JJAEP) or other school program.
    • Because a student’s “property right” to a public education is being taken, the 14th amendment requires that the student be afforded an appropriate level of due process, although the Education Code does not tell us how much process is due.
  • 5. Suspension v. Expulsion
      • 37.009 provides
    • “ Before a student may be expelled under Section 37.007, the board or the board’s designee must provide the student a hearing at which the student is afforded appropriate due process as required by the federal constitution and which the student’s parent or guardian is invited in writing to attend.”
      • State law imposes two other requirements
        • (1) the student is entitled to be represented at an expulsion hearing by some adult who can give guidance to the student; this person is usually the parent or guardian, but can be someone else, as long as it is not a district employee
        • (2) if an expulsion is ordered by the board’s designee, then it is appealable to the board, and then to the district court of the county in which the school district’s administrative office is located.
  • 6. Suspension v. Expulsion
    • School districts can rely on student or staff witnesses, and even read their written witness statements at an expulsion hearing, without a right to cross-examine by the accused student.
    • Courts have decided that such prerecorded statements (considered hear-say in court) are admissible in student discipline matters.
    • The minimum due process requirements for a long-term expulsion consist of:
      • (1) oral and written notice of the charges against the student
      • (2) an explanation of the evidence
      • (3) an opportunity for the student to present his side of the story.
  • 7. Suspension v. Expulsion
      • Reasons for denying the right to cross examine include:
        • (1) the fact that the administrators who investigate the offenses are qualified to determine the truthfulness of student accusers
        • (2) the fact that, if forced to testify, any students would fail to come forward
        • (3) reasons associated with administrative convenience.
    • The best policy to follow when students are caught in the act of breaking a school rule and admit guilt is to give them notice of the rule violation and an opportunity in the presence of their parents or a representative to confirm their admission of guilt in writing and to waive formal due process rights.
  • 8. Suspension v. Expulsion
      • 37.009 provides
    • “ Before a student may be expelled under Section 37.007, the board or the board’s designee must provide the student a hearing at which the student is afforded appropriate due process as required by the federal constitution and which the student’s parent or guardian is invited in writing to attend.”
      • State law imposes two other requirements
        • (1) the student is entitled to be represented at an expulsion hearing by some adult who can give guidance to the student; this person is usually the parent or guardian, but can be someone else, as long as it is not a district employee
        • (2) if an expulsion is ordered by the board’s designee, then it is appealable to the board, and then to the district court of the county in which the school district’s administrative office is located.
  • 9. Off-Campus Rules
    • Schools retain the same authority over students at school-sponsored activities occurring off campus as they have when students are on campus.
      • According to TEC 37
        • students must be removed to a DAEP if they engage in conduct that would be felonious under certain sections of the Texas Penal Code.
      • One factor that comes into play with regard to off-campus behavior is the nature of the disciplinary punishment.
        • If the proposed sanction is a suspension from extracurricular activities, rather than a suspension from school, the courts are much more likely to support the school district’s position. The courts have consistently ruled that participation in athletics and other extracurricular activities is a “privilege” rather than a “right.” Therefore, where these activities are concerned, schools have more authority to create and enforce rules, even those that apply off campus.
      • A second key factor with regard to off-campus activity is whether or not the school has some legitimate interest at stake; examples include the use of the internet.
        • If the student’s activity moves beyond “offensive” to “threatening” the school can assert its interest in maintaining safety by taking disciplinary action.
  • 10. Off-Campus Rules
      • Killion v. Franklin Regional School District (2001)
        • a student composed a top 10 list listing the personal and professional failings of the school’s AD at his home and he emailed it to others who printed and distributed it at school. The school suspended the student and removed him from the track team, but at regional court the case was overturned and the court held that the school had failed to show that the student’s actions were materially disruptive to the education process.
      • JS, a Minor v. Bethlehem Area School District
        • A student created a website against his algebra teacher that was threatening; the court decided that the conduct was materially disruptive and a substantial invasion of the rights of others and the student’s expulsion was upheld.
  • 11. Due Process
    • Notice/hearing
      • There are 3 key concepts necessary to an understanding of the due process clauses in our Constitution:
        • (1) There must be some action of the state—generally speaking, actions by private entities do not implicate the due process clause
        • (2) the state must have deprived the individual of “life, liberty, or property” –a person who sues over a violation of due process must assert a “property interest” or “liberty interest”
        • (3) the nature of the process due depends on the severity of the deprivation.
  • 12. Due Process
      • In the case Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education , the court held that students at a public college are entitled to fair notice of the rules they were charged with breaking and a fair hearing before they could be expelled and the court also established what it considered to be the components of fair notice and a fair hearing:
        • (1) the notice should contain a statement of the specific charges and the grounds that, if proven, would justify expulsion
        • (2) students should be given an opportunity to present to the board of trustees or administrative officials of the college their own defense against the charges, including the right to call witnesses on their behalf
        • (3) students should be apprised of the results and findings of the hearing in a report open to their inspection.
  • 13. Due Process
    • Goss v. Lopez deals with due process in public schools.
    • In Meyer v. Austin (1999) , the court emphasized that due process must be provided to the student, not the parents.
    • The greater the loss suffered by the student, the more sympathetic courts are likely to be to claims of lack of due process and the courts do not appear very sympathetic to disputes over a students grades.
  • 14. Goss v. Lopez
    • In Ohio, 9 students were given a 10-day suspension from school and the school principal did not hold hearings for the affected students before ordering the suspensions.
    • The US Supreme Court concluded that due process is required before a student can be suspended from school. Since the “deprivation of property” imposed by the state is less harsh in a case of short-term suspension, the “process” that is “due” is much less burdensome.
    • In this case, the Court concluded that, because the state provides compulsory schooling, even a short-term suspension deprives the student of a property right and, thus, requires due process. In cases of suspensions of 10 days or less, the Court ruled that due process requires school officials to give the student informal notice of the misbehavior and an opportunity to offer an explanation.
  • 15. Corporal Punishment
      • Corporal punishment continues to be legal in Texas and also continues to be one of the few areas where local control truly exists.
        • There is no state law regarding corporal punishment, therefore the decisions are left to local school officials.
      • In Ingraham v. Wright , the Court ruled that corporal punishment of public school students
        • (1) did not require any formal due process measures, such as notice and a hearing
        • (2) under no circumstances could be considered “cruel and unusual punishment” as that term is used in the Eighth Amendment.
      • TEC 37.0021 absolutely prohibits the use of “seclusion” by public schools.
        • Seclusion is defined as a technique in which a student is confined in a locked box, locked closet, or locked room that is designed solely to seclude a person and whose area is less than 50 square feet.

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