Proposed Changes to Policy JD: Student Discipline
The Board of Education’s Policy Committee has forwarded to the Board of Education for consideration a proposed change to the district’s student discipline policy. The proposed change would allow an appeal of short-term suspensions of 10 or fewer days by a school or district administrator.
- Requests for an appeal of a short-term suspension (10 days or fewer) would start with the principal, if the suspension was given by an assistant principal.
- If the school is too small to have an assistant principal, the review would be conducted by the principal supervisor.
- The final step, if parents/guardians wish to appeal the decision of the principal supervisor, would be the superintendent’s designee, who would act on behalf of and with the delegated authority of the superintendent.
- Only long-term suspensions of more than 10 days are appealable to the Board of Education in a formal hearing.
Questions & Answers
- On what grounds can a student or parent/guardian appeal a suspension?
A short-term suspension is subject to appeal if:
- The suspension was issued to a student in error (e.g. a student who was absent from school on the day and during the time the alleged misbehavior occurred in a classroom);
- The suspension was issued based on unsubstantiated allegations or a personal conclusion rather than facts;
- The suspension was issued in violation of the student’s rights under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act); or,
- The suspension was issued in violation of, or is inconsistent with, the Board of Education’s Code of Conduct.
- If a short-term suspension is appealed, will the student remain at school, in class, and in after-school activities?
- While a parent/guardian may request that the student stay in school during the appeal of a suspension, a student determined by the principal to be a danger to others or who is highly likely to be so destructive or disruptive that the education of other students cannot continue in a safe and orderly manner will not be allowed to attend school during the appeal process.
- What’s the point of an appeal if students begin suspensions immediately?
- The U.S. Supreme Court on January 22, 1975, ruled that, under the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause, public-school students facing suspensions are entitled to notice and a hearing. As with appeals of long-term suspensions, if a review determines that a short-term suspension was given in error, the suspension will not be included in the student’s permanent record.
- Why is this important?
- 1) Due process is a fundamental, Constitutional right, and many states and school systems nationwide already provide a review or appeal process for short-term suspensions. 2) The military and the common application for state colleges and universities all seek information about student disciplinary records and many specifically ask whether a student has been suspended. 3) Students who attend schools on a block schedule and are suspended for up to 10 days experience a loss of instructional time that is equivalent to nearly double the class periods. For example, a student at Dudley High School who is suspended for 10 days would miss 900 minutes of math, while a student at Page High School who is suspended for 10 days would miss 540 minutes of math.
- What’s behind the proposed changes?
- The purpose of the proposed changes is to ensure our students greater due process and to give our parents the opportunity to ask questions and understand why their children were suspended. A review by another administrator simply acts as a safeguard to ensure that the facts are clear, board policy regarding student conduct was applied appropriately, and that the correct process and protocols were followed.
Guilford County Schools respects the rights of students and parents to ask questions and express concerns. Guilford County Schools has confidence in its professional staff, and desires to support parent/school mediation and communication so that school actions are more readily understood by all parties involved.
- Do the proposed changes affect the Student Code of Conduct?
- No. The Code of Conduct for students and the consequences for any violations (JD-P) is not changing and has not been revised since 2014. The policy (JD Student Discipline) has not been changed since 2011.
- Will this proposal increase violence in our schools?
- Absolutely not. The Board of Education’s Code of Conduct for students is not changing. The proposed change simply affords greater due process to students who are suspended for 10 or fewer days. Many school districts and entire states allow for an appeal of short-term suspensions and have not reported an increase in school violence as a result. Suspensions of more than 10 days may already be appealed to the Board of Education.
- Do the proposed changes take away principals’ authority?
- Principals and assistant principals retain the legal authority to suspend students in adherence with the Board of Education’s Student Code of Conduct. A principal’s disciplinary decisions will not be reviewed unless there is a specific parent request for an appeal based upon a perceived violation of the Board of Education’s disciplinary policy and Code of Conduct.
- Is this an effort to reduce district suspension rates?
- The purpose of this policy change is to improve parent-school communication regarding disciplinary actions and afford greater due process to students who are suspended from school 10 or fewer days.
- Are the proposed changes in compliance with North Carolina law governing public schools?
- Yes. North Carolina law gives local school boards the authority to provide an informal review or appeal for short-term suspensions. The Supreme Court has already determined that long-term suspensions of more than 10 days are appealable. Appeals of long-term suspensions are heard by the Board of Education.
Policy JD: Student Discipline: Current Policy
Procedure JD-P: Code of Conduct
Proposed Revision: Proposed Policy Revision
National School Board Association - Gross v. Lopez: The Evolution of Student Discipline: Gross v. Lopez