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Ramifications of the New Student Discipline Regulations

Ramifications of the New Student Discipline Regulations

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Ramifications of the New Student Discipline Regulations

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  1. Ramifications of the New Student Discipline Regulations Presentation by: Stephen C. Bounds, Esq. Director of Legal & Policy Services * * * * * John R. Woolums, Esq. Director of Governmental Relations Maryland Assoc. of Boards of Education

  2. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • Once upon a time… • Schools in Maryland were given local discretion to discipline students “as warranted” to ensure school safety and uninterrupted learning (Ed. Art. § 7-305) • Appeals could be filed if school systems acted inappropriately (Ed. Art. § 7-305)

  3. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • The State Board heard such an appeal in Atanya C. v. Dorchester BOE • Atanya C.’s 9th grade daughter, J.C., was in a fight that injured a teacher seeking to stop the fight • J.C. had a history of school fighting and received a long-term suspension

  4. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • In State Board Opinion No. 09-26, in a 5-4 decision “by the barest of margins” affirmed J.C.’s long-term suspension with “the most minimal education” • The State Board in Atanya C. “put all school systems on notice, that future expulsion-sans-education cases will be reviewed most carefully for abuse of discretion”

  5. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • The entire State Board did agree “that the issue of long-term suspension and meaningful access to education services deserves a full review” • The State Board further stated its “intention to develop a solution to the education policy problems presented by long-term suspensions”

  6. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools The State Board over the next several years established four basic principles for student discipline reform: • Prohibiting “zero tolerance” policies; • Reflecting a philosophy that fosters positive behavior;

  7. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools 3. Providing continuous education services to all suspended and expelled students; and 4. Holding school systems accountable for reducing and eliminating disproportionate impacts of student discipline policies on minority students

  8. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • MABE and other education advocacy entities in Maryland (and often beyond) have embraced these four principles and accountability for results • The real question is whether these are best accomplished by local discretion accompanied by accountability or by one size fits all statewide mandates

  9. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • MSDE Staff and the State Board were assisted in all aspects of this student discipline reform process by the Open Society Institute (now Foundations), created in 1993 by Hungarian billionaire George Soros to promote human rights and social reform in education and other areas of concern

  10. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • Later the State Superintendent in May, 2013 named a School Discipline Regulation Workgroup to address some of the language concerns raised in comments; a Best Practices Workgroup to conduct a relevant literature review; and a Code of Conduct Workgroup to consider changes to the existing Code

  11. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • On June 25, 2013 the School Discipline Regulation Workgroup presented its findings and the State Board on July 23, 2013 granted permission to publish the somewhat modified COMAR • The regulations were republished on December 13, 2013.

  12. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • After the public comment period ended on January 13, 2014, the State Board on January 28, 2014 finally adopted the new regulations • The new regulations are under COMAR 13A.08.01.11, .12, .15 and .21

  13. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Implementation Schedule: • “By the beginning of school year 2014-2015, each local board shall review and revise its student discipline policies and regulations with the goal of maintaining an environment of order, safety, and discipline necessary for effective learning.”

  14. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools The regulations require that local board policies and regulations shall, at minimum, satisfy six criteria: • Reflect a philosophy fostering positive behavior; • Be designed to keep student connected to school;

  15. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools 3. Describe conduct leading to in-school and out-of-school suspension or expulsion; 4. Allow for discretion in imposing discipline; 5. Address ways to meet educational and counseling needs of excluded students; and 6. Explain why extended suspensions and expulsions are last-resort options.

  16. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • The new regulations repeal the provision that mirrored the statute’s allowance for school administrator discretion to discipline students “as warranted” under (Ed. Art. § 7-305) • And deleted, [“In those instances when the behavior of a student is disruptive and detrimental to the operation of the school, the student may be suspended or expelled.”]

  17. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • New Mandates • Education services • Behavioral support services • Education liaisons • 10-day return to school rule • 45-day hearing deadline • Disproportionality remediation plans New Definitions • Suspension • Short-term suspension • Long-term suspension • Extended suspension • Expulsion

  18. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Suspension means the application of extended suspension, in-school suspension, short-term suspension, or long-term suspension

  19. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Short-term suspension means the removal of a student from school for up to but not more than 3 school days for disciplinary reasons by the principal

  20. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Long-term suspension means the removal of a student from school for a time period between 4 and 10 school days for disciplinary reasons by the principal

  21. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Extended suspensionmeans the exclusion of a student from a student’s regular program for a time period between 11 and 45 days

  22. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Extended suspensionis limited to circumstances in which: • “the student has engaged in chronic and extreme disruption of the educational process that has created a substantial barrier to learning for other students across the school day”; and

  23. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Extended suspensionis limited to circumstances in which: • the duration is limited to the “shortest period practicable”; and • the students return to school prior to the completion of the suspension period would pose an imminent threat of serious harm to other students and staff

  24. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Expulsionmeans the exclusion of the student from the student’s regular school program for 45 days or longer

  25. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Expulsionis limited to circumstances in which: • the duration is limited to the “shortest period practicable”; and • the student’s return to school prior to the completion of the expulsion would pose an imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff

  26. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Mandated Services for Excluded Students • School systems must provide students excluded from school in extended suspension (11 to 45 days) or expulsion (45 days or longer) with “comparable educational services” and “appropriate behavioral support services” to promote successful return to the student’s regular academic program

  27. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Minimum Education Services For each student suspended or expelled out of school, who is not placed in an alternative education program, the school system must: • provide “minimum education services” including daily class work and assignments from each teacher, which shall be reviewed, corrected and returned to the student on a weekly basis; and

  28. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Mandated Staff Liaison For each student suspended or expelled out of school, who is not placed in an alternative education program: • Each principal must assign a staff liaison between teachers and the students and their parents to communicate weekly about class work assignments and school-related issues by phone or email with students and their parents

  29. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Minimum Education Services for Short-term Suspensions (1-3 days) • Schools must provide students with the opportunity to complete the academic work they miss during the suspension period without penalty; and • Provide the contact information for the staff liaison responsible for ensuring that this requirement is met • Otherwise, the same make-up process as for other excused absences applies to short-term suspensions

  30. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools 10-Day Return to School Rule • If, by the 10th day of the student’s suspension, the superintendent fails to make a decision on the principal’s request for extended suspension (11-45 days) or expulsion (longer than 45 days), the student must be returned to school unless it is determined that “the student’s return to school would pose an imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff”

  31. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Appeals: Timelines and Procedures The regulations include: • a 45-day timeline and deadline for hearing appeals, even if using a hearing examiner; and • a new requirement for school systems to share all documents and witness lists with parents/appellants 5 days before the hearing, without any corresponding requirement for the appellants

  32. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Disproportionate Impact Analysis & Remediation • The regulations require MSDE to develop a method to analyze whether there is a disproportionate impact on minority students, or a discrepant impact on special education students; and • based upon MSDE’s finding of a disproportionate or discrepant impact, the local school system must prepare and present a plan to reduce the impact within one year and eliminate it within three years

  33. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • Consider the Policy and Regulation changes that school systems will need to have in place for the 2014-2015 school year starting in August • Policy modification is a fairly complex and lengthy process in most systems • HCPSS has 40+ Policies to change by then

  34. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Policies to consider: • Discrimination • Sexual Harassment • Bullying • Curriculum • Social Media • Student Records • Student Discipline • Alcohol and Other Drugs Policies to consider: • Use of Tobacco Products • Weapons • Search and Seizure • Student Assault and/or Battery • Gangs and Gang Activities • Community or Reportable Offenses

  35. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools With respect to the remaining two workgroups and reports: The Best Practices Report is still pending (The State Board requested revisions based on concerns with theoretical rather than practical focus.) The Code of Conduct Report has been delayed until September of 2014 (MABE testified to voice concerns about the challenge to make required policy changes w/o the Code)

  36. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools What is the “Framework for a Statewide Student Discipline Plan”? Announced in April 2014, it is MSDE’s strategic plan (Draft, not distributed) for implementing the new regulations, to include: • Reviewing local master plans; • Conducting needs assessments; • Identifying challenges; and • Providing technical assistance.

  37. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools The Framework briefing included a timeline for the State Board’s and MSDE’s student discipline-related work: • Maryland Student Records Manual (June 23, 2014); • Best Practices in Student Discipline (July 22, 2014); • Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) Scale Up (July 22, 2014); and • Maryland Guidelines for a State Code of Discipline (September 23, 2014).

  38. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Maryland Guidelines for a State Code of Discipline The 1996 “School Order and Discipline” law required the State Board of Education to: • Establish guidelines that define a State code of discipline for all public schools with standards of conduct and consequences for violations of the standards; and assist each county board with the implementation of the guidelines.

  39. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools The 1996 law required local boards to adopt regulations designed to create and maintain within the schools under its jurisdiction the atmosphere of order and discipline necessary for effective learning. The local regulations shall provide for educational and behavioral interventions, counseling, and student and parent conferencing; and provide alternative programs, which may include in­school suspension, suspension, expulsion, or other disciplinary measures that are deemed appropriate.

  40. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools The 1996 “School Order and Discipline” law resulted in the 1997 “Maryland Guidelines for a State Code of Discipline”, including: • Roles & Responsibilities • Standards of student conduct • Classification I and II behaviors • Possible ranges of interventions and consequences • Recommendations for local implementation

  41. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Roles & Responsibilities 1997 2014 School Staff & Administrators Students Parents/Guardians Community-based/ City/Local Orgs. & Agencies • Students • Parents and Guardians • School System Personnel • Community and Family Service Orgs. • Statewide Community

  42. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools 1997 Guidelines includes 2 classifications of behaviors and responses: Class I behaviors include academic dishonesty, bullying, disrespect, insubordination, destruction of property, fighting, sexual activity • Class I range of responses includes suspension Class II behaviors include arson, extortion, harassment, tobacco/drug/alcohol possession, physical attack, theft, verbal or physical threat • Class II range of responses includes police contact and expulsion

  43. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools 2014 Guidelines (draft) includes 5 levels of “progressive discipline” responses: • Classroom, support, and teacher-led • Classroom, support, and in-school removal • Support, in-school removal, and administrative • Support, removal, administrative, and out-of-school exclusionary • Long-term administrative, out-of-school exclusionary, and referral

  44. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools • “Removal” in Level 3 refers to in-school suspension • Many behaviors do not proceed to Level 4; the first level allowing out-of-school responses • Many behaviors require proof of “intent” to permit discipline • Many extended suspension/expulsion responses, when allowed, are limited to students in grades 6-12

  45. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Up to Level 2 (excludes in-school suspension) • Class cutting, tardiness, truancy, dress code, academic dishonesty, tobacco Up to Level 3 (excludes out-of-school suspension) • Disrespect, personal electronics

  46. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Up to Level 4 (excludes extended suspension or expulsion) • Disruption, theft, destruction of property, trespassing Up to Level 5 (includes extended suspension or expulsion) • Sexual activity/attack, harassment, threats, drugs & alcohol, fighting, serious bodily injury, explosives, weapons, arson

  47. Student Discipline ChangesFor Maryland Schools Academic Dishonesty Includes plagiarizing, such as taking someone else’s work or ideas (for students grades 6-12); forgery, such as faking a signature of a teacher or parent; or cheating Responses: Level 1 – written apology, talk w/school counselor, detention; and Level 2 – community service, peer mediation, temporary removal from class