School Discipline Laws and Regulations Compendium

This Compendium is designed to help state and local policymakers as well as school-level personnel better understand the current school discipline practices in our country.  It provides information on school discipline laws and administrative regulations for each of the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico effective as of May 2013. (See Notes & Disclaimers below.)

For each of the jurisdictions, state-level discipline related statutes and regulations and (if available) state-sponsored websites or resources are included.  The collected discipline laws and regulations for each jurisdiction have been categorized by the type of specific discipline issue they address. 

Information is available in two formats:

  • School discipline laws and regulations compiled by category
  • School discipline laws and regulations compiled by state

Users may also download the full Discipline Laws and Regulations Compendium (PDF).

Sources

Statutes posted on government websites were consulted. In addition, LexisNexis, a search engine that specializes in legal research (http://www.lexisnexis.com/en-us/about-us/about-us.page) was used to conduct keyword searches on topics relevant to school discipline and to guide researchers. Multiple chapters and sections of code were investigated to identify statutes and policies housed under other policy domains and authority. Administrative policies were identified both through LexisNexis searches and scans of state Departments of Education (DOE) websites. Additional resources for each state were identified through state DOE website searches, as well as general internet searches using keywords such as "model school discipline policy" or "school discipline manuals."

The following resources were also consulted to corroborate or supplement the information that had been collected:

Individual state sources are cited in detail in each state’s comprehensive state report.

Notes & Disclaimers

To the best of the preparer’s knowledge, this Compendium of state statutes and regulations is complete and current as of May 2013, with the exception of the information on state laws related to seclusion and restraint, which are complete and current as of December 2012. Current plans include an annual update of the Compendium.

The scope of this Compendium covers state-level school discipline laws and regulations related to student conduct at public schools.  The Compendium does not cover state laws and regulations governing the extent to which the school discipline laws may, or may not, apply to charter schools and private schools in particular states.  The Compendium also does not cover criminal laws which may apply to certain student conduct when occurring on school property or at school-sponsored events, and it does not cover laws related to conduct of teachers, administrators, or other staff in the school context.

While this Compendium focuses only on state-level laws and regulations, Federal laws may also apply to particular school discipline contexts.1 In addition, in some cases additional state-level laws or policies may also apply to particular discipline contexts. For example, this Compendium does not focus on state level protections for students with disabilities, unless it is a part of general school discipline policy. Additionally, although links to state-sponsored websites and resources are identified and included in the state profiles, the categorized information covers only the content of state statute and regulation, and many states address other facets of school discipline policy through trainings, resources etc.

Readers should note that the information in this Compendium was compiled from individual state sources that are maintained and formatted differently by each state and that are updated with varying frequency. For more information consult state sources directly. In addition, as they consider this topic readers may find it useful to consult state Attorney General opinions for a particular state or jurisdiction.

1 For example, the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) contains specific provisions regarding the discipline of students with disabilities who are or may be eligible for services under the IDEA.  See, e.g., 20 U.S.C. §1415(k); 34 C.F.R. § 300.530(e)-(g); and IDEA Discipline Regulations: http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/%2Croot%2Cdynamic%2CTopicalBrief%2C6%2C.  In addition, when administering school discipline policies schools are also responsible for complying with other applicable Federal laws including, but not limited to, Federal civil rights and privacy laws.  See, e.g., Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000c et seq.);  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, which prohibits discrimination on the bases of race, color, or national origin (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d et seq.) ; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended, which prohibits sex discrimination (20 U.S.C. §§1681 et seq.); Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 794) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.), which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability; and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which  protect the privacy of student education records (20 U.S.C. § 1232g).

Citation

Darling-Churchill, K., Stuart-Cassel, V., Ryberg, R., Schmitz, H., Balch, J., Bezinque, A., and Conway-Turner, J. (2013). Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations for the 50 States, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments. Available at: http://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/school-discipline-compendium.