What rules do the school's need to follow?
The Massachusetts Statute that applies depends on what the student did:
If the student brought drugs or weapons to school and/or assaults a member of the school staff Rule 37H applies.
If the student is charged with a Felony and “principal or headmaster determines that the student's continued presence in school would have a substantial detrimental effect on the general welfare of the school" then Rule 37H 1/2 applies.
If the student's behavior does not fall into either of the above categories then their behavior will more likely than not be classified as a "violation of the student handbook" which would mean that Rule 37H 3/4 would apply.
Suspensions and Expulsions
There is a lot of if X then Y should happen in this area. You should seek individualized advice based on your specific student's behavior as soon as possible. Here are some general points to be aware of...
All students excluded for any length of time must be given the opportunity to make up all missed work. This includes projects, quizzes, tests, assignments etc.
Your student is entitled to hearing before they are suspended.
If your student is to be excluded for more than 10 school days, they are entitled to some form of educational service. This could be an alternative placement (see below), tutoring and in some districts online learning.
A recent decision from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Problem Resolution System (PRS) has reiterated the requirement that a suspended or expelled student must be provided with a minimum of two options for receipt of educational services (In re: Intake 1561).
If the school calls you and ask you to pick up your child due to the child's behavior, ask if the child is being suspended out. If they say NO but you need to pick the child up - then they are technically suspending the child as he's not being allowed to remain in school. Whether or not you go and pick up your child is a judgment call only you can make. But this call should be documented and if it happens enough you should ask for some changes (BIP, FBA, IEP Meeting are a few suggestions).
Interim Alternative Educational Setting
A student may be unilaterally placed in an 'alternative' educational setting for up to 45 school days for the following behaviors: bringing weapons to school, bringing drugs to school and/or causing bodily harm or injury to a person while at school or a school sponsored event. These placements can be made without the consent of the parent but at the end of the 45 school days a Team meeting will be held to discuss what options are available to the student.
If your student is a student with a disability, they receive more protections in discipline matters.
According to the IDEA, a student with a disability is a child who receives special education services as part of an IEP. A student also may be considered to have a disability even if the school has not tested or identified the child as such. If the school "knew or should have known" of the child's disability, the student may still be protected by special education law. (We will be sharing post that focuses on the rights of student's with disabilities and discipline in a few weeks.)
Have questions or concerns about your child's education? Contact us to discuss further:
E.M. Curran & Associates LLC