VIII. Frequently Asked Questions
How A Student May Be Suspended Or Expelled From School (Policy 5500.12)
A student has a right to attend school and have an opportunity to learn. A student can lose that right to attend school if s/he violates the Code of Student Conduct or a school rule. A student loses the right to attend school by being suspended or expelled. During the period of suspension or expulsion, a student may not enter upon District property or attend any District or school sponsored activity or event without the permission of an administrator.
Q. Who can suspend a student?
A. The principal or someone designated by the principal (such as an assistant principal) can suspend a student.
Q. How long can a student be suspended?
A. A student can be suspended from school for one (1) school day or up to three (3) school days.
Q. What happens before a suspension?
A. The principal or assistant principal becomes aware that a student has broken a rule in the Code of Student Conduct or a school rule. S/He will investigate by talking to students, teachers, or others who may know something about what happened. Even if the student is one (1) of the students who broke the rule, the principal or assistant principal may talk to the student as part of the investigation. After talking to people who were involved or witnesses, the principal or assistant principal will determine who s/he thinks broke a rule.
Q. What if the principal or assistant principal determines that a student broke a rule?
A. As soon as possible the principal or assistant principal will talk to the student. The administrator will tell the student that s/he has broken a rule in the Code of Student Conduct or a school rule. The student also will be given something in writing, like a discipline referral, that tells the student the same thing. A student will then be told why the administrator thinks that s/he has broken the rule. After this happens, the student should know what s/he is accused of doing and what evidence there is that supports the accusations.
Q. What happens next?
A. The student will now have an opportunity to tell the principal or assistant principal his/her side of the story. The student can ask that they talk to someone s/he thinks may know something about what happened. The student can give the principal or assistant principal a written statement to read. After listening to the student and reading anything that s/he has given them, the principal or assistant principal may talk to the people s/he told them about and anybody else that they need to contact.
After that, the principal or assistant principal will decide if the student has broken a rule in the Code of Student Conduct or a school rule. If s/he decides that the student has broken a rule, they will then decide if the student should be suspended from school and how long the student will be suspended. The student will be told about this decision.
Q. Will the student’s parents know?
A. The principal or assistant principal will try to telephone the student’s parents and let them know about the suspension. If they cannot reach the student’s parents by telephone, then they will write down how many times they tried and what happened. The student’s parents will be mailed a letter titled Written Notice of Suspension within twenty-four (24) hours of the decision. The student will be given a copy of that letter. If the student or his/her parents claim that s/he did not receive the letter, it will not change the suspension. The student will be given another copy of the letter if s/he requests one.
Disciplinary Reassignment – Q&A (Policy 5500.10)
If the principal after completing an investigation determines that a student has done something wrong that requires removal from the school the principal will make a recommendation to the area superintendent. If the area superintendent supports the recommendation for reassignment then the student will be suspended for no more than three (3) days and then sent to an alternative school.
Q. How long does a student have to attend the alternative program?
A. For one (1), two (2), or three (3) semesters. If a student does not behave or does not do his/her work at the alternative school, s/he may have to stay there even longer. Students may be offered the opportunity to enter into an early workback agreement if there are extenuating circumstances.
Q. What if a student gets reassigned a second time?
A. If the student is a general education student, s/he will be reassigned for one (1), two (2), or three (3) semesters. Most second reassignments will be to TELESCHOOL. If a student is an ESE student s/he may be returned to an appropriate alternative school.
Q. Can a student go back and visit his/her regular school or other schools while s/he is reassigned to an alternative school?
A. No. A student cannot go back to his/her school, or visit any other school, or be on any property leased or owned by the Board. A student cannot attend any school activity (sports events, graduation, performances, banquets, etc.), even as a spectator without permission from the Area Superintendent.
Q. Can reassignment affect a student’s curriculum?
A. Students in honors, advanced placement or magnet courses that are expelled or reassigned to an alternative school must be aware that their curriculum will be impacted. While every attempt is made to match schedules, it is rarely possible to replicate every class. Students taking these classes must be aware that, when engaging in serious violations of the Code of Student Conduct they are jeopardizing their academic plan and the completion of some classes may be delayed.
Q. What if a student is reassigned to attend an alternative school for the last semester of his/her senior year?
A. If a student is reassigned to attend an alternative school during the last semester of school before s/he graduates, the following rule applies:
The student’s parent may appeal to a District Review Committee to ask for permission to participate in the student’s regular school’s graduation ceremony. The Committee will consider the following factors:
1. the nature of the offense
2. the student’s discipline history
3. the student’s performance, attendance, and discipline record in the alternative program
4. other factors it considers to be mitigating or aggravating
Q. When will the District Review Committee meet?
A. No later than ten (10) days before the last day of school.
Q. Who sits on the District Review Committee?
A. The District Review Committee shall consist of the Area Superintendents and the President of the County Council of PTAs or a designee. An Area Superintendent shall not vote on an appeal involving a school from their area. The PTA representative shall also not hear an appeal from a school with which they are associated.
Q. Can a student appeal the decision of the District Review Committee?
Q. What if a student is reassigned after the District Review Committee has met?
A. Then the principal will decide whether the student can attend graduation and end of the school year activities considering the same factors considered by the District Review Committee. The student cannot appeal the principal’s decision.
Q. What does a student do about class work during the three (3) day suspension before s/he begins to attend the alternative school?
A. Your withdrawal grade will be established at the time of reassignment from the regular school. The alternative school staff will assign all work after that time.
Q. What if a student is reassigned at the end of the semester during high school—how does that affect his/her classes?
A. If a student’s suspension begins fifteen (15) days or less before the end of the semester, then the regular school staff will supply the student’s regular class work, and they will also supply review and testing material and arrange for the student to take his/her exams. In addition, if there are less than thirty (30) school days left in a semester then the period of reassignment will include the remainder of the current semester in addition to the designated semesters of reassignment.
Expulsion Q&A (Policy 5500.12)
Q. Who can expel a student?
A. Only the Board can expel a student based upon a recommendation by the Superintendent. The Superintendent will make a recommendation for expulsion only after receiving a recommendation from the principal. The principal will make such a recommendation for expulsion only after having suspended the student for no more than three (3) school days. The principal’s recommendation will contain a detailed explanation of the incident and the student’s record of attendance, academics, and discipline.
Q. Will a student’s parents be notified?
A. The student and his/her parents will be notified in writing if the Superintendent recommends that the Board expel a student. The allegations against the student will be explained. The student will also be told that s/he can request a hearing.
Q. What if the student’s parents want to request a hearing?
A. The parents should submit a written request for a hearing to the School Board Attorney’s office. After the parents request a hearing, the Superintendent will assign the student to an appropriate school program other than his/her regular school.
Q. What if the student’s parents do not request a hearing?
A. If the parents do not ask for a hearing, the charges are considered to be true. The student and his/her parents may come to the Board meeting to talk about the length of the expulsion.
Q. Who conducts the hearing?
A. A local attorney who is a volunteer will preside over the hearing. The attorney is an impartial hearing officer who is not an employee of the School District.
Q. When will the hearing take place?
A. The Superintendent’s attorney will schedule the hearing and notify the student and his/her parents in writing of the date, time, and place of the hearing. The student will receive this notification at least two (2) weeks before the hearing takes place.
Q. Can a student have an attorney at the hearing?
A. The student is entitled to have an attorney or other representative provide him/her with legal representation. Any fees for such representation will be the student’s parents’ responsibility.
Q. What happens at the hearing?
A. The Superintendent’s attorney will present witnesses and documents to support the allegations to the impartial hearing officer. The parents or attorney will have an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses and to present witnesses and evidence on the student’s behalf.
Q. Will there be a record of the hearing?
A. The Board will provide a certified court reporter for the hearing. The court reporter will take down everything that is said at the hearing. If the student’s parent wants a full or partial transcript of the hearing, they can pay the court reporter to provide one for them. The court reporter may require payment in advance.
Q. What happens after the hearing?
A. The impartial hearing officer will make a decision based upon the evidence presented at the hearing. S/He will decide what the facts are and make a recommendation in writing to the Board. A copy of that recommendation will be provided to the student, his/her parents, and the Superintendent’s attorney.
Q. Who makes the final decision?
A. The Board will make the final decision on whether or not the student should be expelled and if so, for how long. The student, his/her parents, and their attorney will have an opportunity to appear before the Board in private to discuss the recommendation of the impartial hearing officer. The parents may request to meet in public to discuss the recommendation with the Board.
Q. How long can the Board expel a student?
A. A student can be expelled for the remainder of the current school year and one (1) additional school year. Usually the length of the expulsion is specified in the number of semesters. If there are fewer than thirty (30) school days left in the current semester when the student’s suspension begins, the student’s will stay out the rest of that semester plus the designated semesters of expulsion. A student who is serving an expulsion during last semester of his/her senior year may not participate in the graduation ceremony.
Q. Can a student appeal the Board’s decision to expel?
A. A student can appeal the Board’s decision to the District Court of Appeal in Tampa. The student must do so within thirty (30) days of the date of the Board’s order expelling the student.
Q. Can a student go back and visit his/her regular school or other schools while s/he is expelled?
A. No. A student cannot go back to his/her school, or visit any other school, or be on any property leased or owned by the Board. A student cannot attend any school activity (sports events, graduation, performances, banquets, etc.).
Q. May a student attend other schools or programs that are not run by the District during the expulsion?
A. Yes, a student can attend local Juvenile Services Programs, PACE, Urban League, or other such programs, but acceptance is entirely up to that program’s staff. Other public schools and most private schools will not allow a student to enroll during the expulsion period.
Discipline for Students with Disabilities Q&A (Policy 5500.11)
Students with disabilities are expected to comply with the Code of Student Conduct and school rules just like any other student. If a student violates the Code of Student Conduct or school rules, s/he is generally subject to discipline just like any other student. However, there are some special rules dealing with suspensions and expulsions. Common questions regarding suspensions and expulsions of students with disabilities are answered below.
Q. How are in-school suspensions handled?
A. If a student with a disability receives an in-school suspension, the student’s Individual Educational Plan (IEP) will continue to be in force. An in-school suspension is not considered a change in placement.
Q. Can a student with a disability receive an out-of-school suspension (defined as a removal from all schools without IEP services)?
A. Yes, however, a student with a disability may not be suspended out of school without IEP services for more than ten (10) cumulative days in a school year because students with disabilities are entitled to IEP services after the 10th day of removal without services. If the parent of a student with a disability is asked to remove the student from school before the end of the school day for disciplinary reasons, that removal must be counted and recorded as an out of school suspension.
Q. Can a principal use other forms of in-school discipline on a student with a disability?
A. A principal may use any other form of in-school discipline when dealing with a student with a disability who has violated the Code of Student Conduct or a school rule. These can include detentions, in-school suspension, tobacco education, or Saturday school. The student must be provided with his/her IEP services in those settings.
Q. What happens when a student with a disability reaches three (3) days of out-of-school suspension, or displays a pattern of behavior that impedes their learning or the learning of others?
A. School personnel who are familiar with the student and his/her IEP will meet with the parents as the IEP team and try to find out why the student is misbehaving. The team will also determine if the student’s disability is causing the misconduct and whether there needs to be any changes to the IEP.
Q. Can a student with a disability receive a disciplinary reassignment to an alternative school?
A. A student with a disability may be reassigned to an alternative school because of the student’s misconduct so long as the student’s IEP can be implemented at the alternative school. Before reassignment to the alternative school, a team consisting of the parents and school personnel familiar with the student must meet and develop the Functional Behavioral Assessment/Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and the plan on how to deal with the student’s misconduct. A Manifestation Determination Review meeting must be scheduled within 10 calendar days of the student being advised of a possible change of placement to determine if the behavior is a manifestation of their disability, or if the behavior is the result of the school not implementing the IEP. Such a reassignment to an alternative program may or may not be a change in placement. If it is a change in placement, then all of the procedural safeguards for students with disabilities will be followed as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Federal law providing for the education of students with disabilities.
Q. May a student with a disability be expelled?
A. Yes, so long as the IEP services are provided. Because students with disabilities are entitled to receive the educational services provided for in their IEP during any expulsion, they must receive a disciplinary reassignment to an alternative school or other placement where their IEP can be implemented, rather than receiving a true expulsion without any services.
Q. May a student with a disability be suspended from the bus?
A. Students with disabilities may be suspended from the bus according to the rules listed below. During the suspension from the bus, it is the student’s responsibility to obtain transportation to school. If the student is unable to obtain transportation during the suspension from the bus, the bus suspension days will be considered out-of-school suspension days. Principals may use other forms of discipline instead of suspension from the bus.
Q. What happens when a student with a disability reaches five (5) bus suspension days during the year?
A. The team consisting of the parents and educators familiar with the student will meet and develop a plan to correct the misbehavior on the bus. That plan will be known as the Bus Intervention Plan. The team may develop a Functional Behavioral Assessment/Positive Behavior Intervention Plan and will also consider any changes needed in the IEP.
Q. What happens when a student with a disability reaches ten (10) bus suspension days during the year?
A. The team will meet to review the Bus Intervention Plan and develop or review the Functional Behavioral Assessment/Positive Behavior Intervention Plan. A Manifestation Determination Review meeting must also be convened if the bus suspensions are counted as out of school suspensions. The purpose of the Manifestation Determination Review is to determine if the behavior is related to the student’s disability, or due to the school not implementing the IEP. The team will also determine whether any changes are needed in the IEP.
Q. What if transportation is a related service identified in the IEP?
A. If transportation is a related service identified in the student’s IEP, and expulsion from the bus is recommended, then transportation alternatives will be provided for the student.
Q. What about misconduct involving drugs and weapons?
A. School personnel can place a student with a disability in an interim alternative educational setting, such as an alternative school for forty-five (45) calendar days if the student violates certain school rules regarding drugs, weapons, or serious bodily injury regardless of whether the misconduct was caused by the student’s disability. The student will continue to receive the IEP services during this time.