Student rights and responsibilities, discipline and due process
It is Vancouver Public Schools’ mission to help each student “become a competent, responsible and compassionate citizen.” We have high expectations for all our students in both academic achievement and behavior. We believe that with clear expectations, all students can be successful.
Therefore, it is essential that we provide inviting, culturally respectful and emotionally safe learning environments for all students. Vancouver Public Schools has adopted the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports model to guide behavior and interventions. Within PBIS, there is a continuum of intervention levels that can address the needs of all students.
Students have the right to:
- An orderly and safe learning environment
- Courtesy and respectful treatment
- A quality education with clear, challenging learning goals
- Positive behavior reinforcement and appropriate correction when conduct does not meet expectations
- Equal access to classes, services and extracurricular activities
- Equal treatment in the enforcement of school rules and due process
- Help in the classroom and support from the school as a whole
- The opportunity to reconcile a wrong and a second chance to exhibit appropriate behavior
Students have the responsibility to:
- Model positive behavior and be active leaders of school culture
- Treat teachers, administrators, staff, other students, themselves and property with respect
- Take responsibility for their learning and behavior and hold themselves to high standards of achievement and conduct
- Follow school and classroom expectations and rules
- Come to school every day, on time and ready to learn as participating members of the school community
- Comply with appropriate requests from school staff
- Participate in problem-solving of individual and school concerns
- Report serious violations of safety and security to a teacher or other adult at school
- Practice self-discipline
Student welfare and attendance:
Hearing request form
Complete the hearing request form if your student has been long-term suspended or expelled from school; if you are requesting an appeal of the disciplinary exclusion; or you would like a re-admission meeting for your student to return to their previous school after an exclusion. At the hearing a new school or program placement will be determined for your student, and a re-engagement plan will be created to provide support for your student as they transition to a new school or back to their previous school.
It is important for students to recognize that student conduct impacts the learning and working environment of the classroom and school community. While every effort will be made by school officials to provide interventions to change student behavior, student conduct that poses a safety risk or is a behavior violation outlined in Board policy (Policy 3241) may result in classroom exclusion, suspension or expulsion from school in accordance with state law and due process.
Discipline definitions and due process rights
Discipline: Discipline is all forms of corrective action or punishment other than suspension or expulsion. Discipline can include being removed from class for the remainder of a class period or restriction from noneducational activities such as recess, field trips, transportation or sports. Common examples of discipline also include detention, Saturday School, loss of privileges or special assignments (WAC392-400-010).
Classroom Exclusion: A teacher may exclude a student from the teacher’s classroom or instructional or activity area for behavioral violations that disrupt the educational process while the student is under the teacher’s immediate supervision, subject to the requirements in this section and WAC 392-400-335.
The teacher or other school personnel must first attempt one or more other forms of discipline to support the student in meeting behavioral expectations, unless the student’s presence poses an immediate and continuing danger to other students or school personnel, or an immediate and continuing threat of material and substantial disruption of the educational process.
A classroom exclusion may be administered for all or any portion of the balance of the school day in which the student was excluded from the student’s classroom or instructional or activity area. When a student is excluded from the student’s classroom or instructional or activity area for longer than the balance of the school day, the school district must provide notice and due process for a suspension, expulsion, or emergency expulsion under this chapter.
Suspension: A suspension is a restriction from attending school or any portion of a student’s school program for a stated period of time. Examples: a three-day suspension from school or a five-day suspension from shop class.
- Short-term suspensions are suspensions that last up to 10 consecutive school days.
- Long-term suspensions are suspensions that are more than 10 consecutive school days but no longer than the length of an academic term. Long-term suspensions do not extend beyond the current school year.
- In-school (in-house) suspensions are temporary removals from the regular classroom for disciplinary purposes where the student remains under direct supervision of school personnel.
Expulsion: An expulsion is a denial of attendance from any class or subject or for the student’s full schedule of classes for no longer than the length of an academic term unless an application for readmission is granted. The exception to this is possession of a firearm, which is a mandatory one calendar year school exclusion.
Emergency removal: An emergency removal (see WAC 392-400-510) permits a student to be immediately removed from a class or activity when there is good and sufficient reason to believe that the student’s presence poses an immediate and continuing danger or a continuing threat of substantial disruption. This is a short-term action which can continue until the danger or threat ceases, or the principal or a designated school authority acts to impose discipline, a short-term suspension, a long-term suspension or an expulsion or an emergency expulsion
Emergency expulsion: An emergency expulsion is a denial of attendance for no more than 10 days, imposed only while a student poses a continuing danger or continuing risk of substantial disruption. An emergency expulsion must end or be converted to another form of corrective action within that 10-day period.
The due process rules vary for different levels of discipline and other corrective actions.
Discipline grievances: Discipline that may be grieved under this section includes other forms of discipline, including after-school detention, classroom exclusion, removal or suspension from athletic activity or participation, and removal or suspension from school-provided transportation.
When a student, parent or guardian disagrees with the discipline imposed by a school employee, they have a right to an informal conference with the school principal (or other designated person). During the meeting, the principal may question any person involved; the student, parent or guardian may also question the employee who imposed the discipline.
If the grievance is not resolved, a written or oral appeal may be made to the school district superintendent (or other designated person) within two business days. The superintendent or designee will provide the parent and student with a written copy of its response to the grievance within ten (10) school business days. Unless the principal decides to delay the disciplinary action, it may be imposed during the appeal process.
Due process for short-term suspensions: State law authorizes the use of informal due process for short-term suspensions. This means the principal (or other designated person) must have a conference with the student and explain the alleged violation of the rules, the evidence supporting the allegations and the proposed corrective action or punishment. The student must be given an opportunity to present his or her explanation. When the suspension exceeds one calendar day, the parent or guardian must be notified of the reason for the suspension, the duration of the suspension and the right to appeal as provided in WAC 392-400-450.
Appeals for short-term suspensions: If the student or parent disagrees with a proposed short-term suspension, they have the right to an informal conference with the school principal to resolve the grievance. During the conference, the principal may question any person involved; the student, parent or guardian may also question the employee who imposed the discipline. If the grievance is not resolved, a written or oral appeal may be made to the school district superintendent (or other designated person) within five business days. If the grievance is not resolved at the superintendent level, a written or oral appeal may be made to the board of directors at the next regular meeting if notice is given within two business days. Unless the principal decides to delay the suspension, it may be imposed during the appeal process.
Due process for long-term suspensions and expulsions: Due process for long-term suspensions and expulsions is a more formal process. State law requires a school district to provide a written notice of an opportunity for an appeal hearing for long-term suspension or expulsion. The student or parent/guardian must request a hearing within five business days or the right to a hearing will be waived and the suspension/expulsion may be imposed. In most cases, if the student or parent request an appeal hearing, the student is entitled to remain in school until a decision is reached after the hearing (the common exception would be emergency expulsions).
Hearing process and requirements: The requirements for hearings are essentially the same for long-term suspensions and expulsions and can be found in WAC 392-400-465.
- If a request for a hearing is received within five business days, the district must schedule a hearing to begin within three business days the request was received.
- The student and the parent/guardian have the right, before the hearing, to inspect the evidence and any documents the district intends to introduce.
- The student and the parent/guardian have the right to be represented by an attorney provide at their own expense. The district may allow a representative other than an attorney.
- The student and the parent/guardian have the right to question and cross-examine witnesses of the district, unless there is evidence of good reason that the district should not produce a witness (generally for safety concerns).
- The student and the parent/guardian have the right to present an explanation of the alleged misconduct and support their explanation through witnesses, introduction of documents or through other physical evidence.
- The district employee assigned to present the district’s case has the right, before the hearing, to inspect any evidence the student or parent/guardian plans to introduce.
- The hearing officer or persons hearing the case may not be a witness, and the guilt or innocence of the student must be determined entirely on the evidence presented in the hearing.
- The hearing must be either tape-recorded or a verbatim record of the hearing must be made.
- A written decision of the hearing officer(s) must be provided to the student and parent/guardian or their attorney. The decision may either uphold the long-term suspension or expulsion or may impose a lesser form or corrective action or punishment. A suspension or expulsion upheld by a hearing will commence.
Appeals: If a student or parent/guardian disagrees with the decision of a hearing officer(s), they may file a written request for appeal within five business days of receiving the decision. The district may, at its choosing, accept an oral request for appeal. An appeal may be heard by the board of directors, or by a school district disciplinary appeals council if established by the board. If a request for appeal is heard, the board of directors or appeals council must schedule a meeting within 10 business days. In most cases, the suspension or expulsion may be continued while an appeal is made to the board of directors or appeals council.
Readmission meetings are for students who have been long-term suspended or expelled and are requesting to return to their original school after another school placement has occurred as a result of a placement or appeal hearing. Students requesting a readmission meeting do not have the right to return to school until after the meeting is held or the exclusionary time period has been exhausted.
Schools are required to hold a re-engagement meeting for students who have been given a suspended or expelled for 5 or more days to discuss a plan for the student’s return to school. The meeting should be held within 20 days of the suspension or expulsion, but must be held not less than five days before the student returns to school.
Students who qualify for special education services or a 504 can be disciplined under the same rules as all students, with the modifications listed below as required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and relevant state laws.
In-school suspension, Short-term suspensions or emergency expulsions: The general rules relating to school-based discipline or responses, short-term suspensions or emergency expulsions apply to students who qualify for special education services or Section 504 when the action taken or proposed does not exceed 10 consecutive school days, or when a series of short-term removals do not exceed more than 10 days in a s school year.
Educational services are to be provided to all students during the removal.
Change of Placement: Removals of more than 10 days is considered to be a change of placement. If the recommended disciplinary action for a student who qualifies for special education services or Section 504 is a long-term suspension or expulsion (more than 10 days), or if a series of removals from school constitute a pattern of removal that adds up to more than 10 days in the school year, a manifestation determination meeting must be held prior to imposing the disciplinary action, but not later than 10 days after imposing the disciplinary action.
Manifestation determination meeting: A manifestation determination meeting is held to determine whether the student’s conduct is caused by or is the result of the student’s disability or whether the student’s conduct is the direct result of the school’s failure to implement the IEP or 504 plan. The student’s IEP team or 504 team members should participate in the meeting.
If through the Manifestation Determination meeting, it is determined that the conduct is NOT a manifestation of the disability, the student may be disciplined the same as a student without disabilities.
If through the Manifestation Determination meeting, it is determined that the conduct IS a manifestation of the disability, the IEP team or 504 team is required to meet and develop a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) for the student.
Interim Alternative Educational Setting: A student who qualifies for special education or a 504 may be placed in an interim alternative educational setting without a change of placement in the IEP or without a court order for 1) up to 10 days in a school year; or 2) up to 45 days if the student carries a gun or other dangerous weapon or sells, distributes illegal drugs on school property or on school-sponsored transportation or at a school function or causes severe injury to another person.
Behavior intervention or support plans: Behavior intervention or support plans must be established for students whose behavior negatively impacts their ability to reach their educational goals. The plan should prescribe specific disciplinary procedures for the student and may include removal from school for specified amounts of time as part of the IEP or 504. Either school personnel or the parent may request a new IEP or 504 meeting and review of the behavior intervention or support plan if either finds that the plan is not satisfactory or is in need of revision.