California School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Alternatives to Suspension

Discipline Compendium

California School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Alternatives to Suspension

Category: In-School Discipline
Subcategory: Alternatives to Suspension
State: California

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LAWS

EDC 33432.

(a) A local educational agency that receives a grant shall use the grant funds for planning, implementation, and evaluation of activities in support of evidence-based, nonpunitive programs and practices to keep the state's most vulnerable pupils in school. These activities shall complement or enhance the actions and services identified to meet the local educational agency's goals as identified in its local control and accountability plan pursuant to Section 47606.5, 52060, or 52066, as applicable. These activities may include, but are not limited to, all of the following:

(3) Implementing restorative practices, restorative justice models, or other programs to improve retention rates, reduce suspensions and other school removals, and reduce the referral of pupils to law enforcement agencies.

EDC 48900.

A pupil shall not be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion, unless the superintendent of the school district or the principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled determines that the pupil has committed an act as defined pursuant to any of subdivisions (a) to (r), inclusive:

(a)(1) Caused, attempted to cause, or threatened to cause physical injury to another person.

(2) Willfully used force or violence upon the person of another, except in self-defense.

(b) Possessed, sold, or otherwise furnished a firearm, knife, explosive, or other dangerous object, unless, in the case of possession of an object of this type, the pupil had obtained written permission to possess the item from a certificated school employee, which is concurred in by the principal or the designee of the principal.

(c) Unlawfully possessed, used, sold, or otherwise furnished, or been under the influence of, a controlled substance listed in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11053) of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, an alcoholic beverage, or an intoxicant of any kind.

(d) Unlawfully offered, arranged, or negotiated to sell a controlled substance listed in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11053) of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, an alcoholic beverage, or an intoxicant of any kind, and either sold, delivered, or otherwise furnished to a person another liquid, substance, or material and represented the liquid, substance, or material as a controlled substance, alcoholic beverage, or intoxicant.

(e) Committed or attempted to commit robbery or extortion.

(f) Caused or attempted to cause damage to school property or private property.

(g) Stole or attempted to steal school property or private property.

(h) Possessed or used tobacco, or products containing tobacco or nicotine products, including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, miniature cigars, clove cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, snuff, chew packets, and betel. However, this section does not prohibit the use or possession by a pupil of the pupil's own prescription products.

(i) Committed an obscene act or engaged in habitual profanity or vulgarity.

(j) Unlawfully possessed or unlawfully offered, arranged, or negotiated to sell drug paraphernalia, as defined in Section 11014.5 of the Health and Safety Code.

(k)(1) Disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully defied the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials, or other school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties.

(2) Except as provided in Section 48910, a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 3, inclusive, shall not be suspended for any of the acts enumerated in paragraph (1), and those acts shall not constitute grounds for a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, to be recommended for expulsion. This paragraph is inoperative on July 1, 2020.

(3) Except as provided in Section 48910, commencing July 1, 2020, a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 5, inclusive, shall not be suspended for any of the acts specified in paragraph (1), and those acts shall not constitute grounds for a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, to be recommended for expulsion.

(4) Except as provided in Section 48910, commencing July 1, 2020, a pupil enrolled in any of grades 6 to 8, inclusive, shall not be suspended for any of the acts specified in paragraph (1). This paragraph is inoperative on July 1, 2025.

(l) Knowingly received stolen school property or private property.

(m) Possessed an imitation firearm. As used in this section, "imitation firearm" means a replica of a firearm that is so substantially similar in physical properties to an existing firearm as to lead a reasonable person to conclude that the replica is a firearm.

(n) Committed or attempted to commit a sexual assault as defined in Section 261, 266c, 286, 287, 288, or 289 of, or former Section 288a of, the Penal Code or committed a sexual battery as defined in Section 243.4 of the Penal Code.

(o) Harassed, threatened, or intimidated a pupil who is a complaining witness or a witness in a school disciplinary proceeding for purposes of either preventing that pupil from being a witness or retaliating against that pupil for being a witness, or both.

(p) Unlawfully offered, arranged to sell, negotiated to sell, or sold the prescription drug Soma.

(q) Engaged in, or attempted to engage in, hazing. For purposes of this subdivision, "hazing" means a method of initiation or preinitiation into a pupil organization or body, whether or not the organization or body is officially recognized by an educational institution, that is likely to cause serious bodily injury or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to a former, current, or prospective pupil. For purposes of this subdivision, "hazing" does not include athletic events or school-sanctioned events.

(r) Engaged in an act of bullying. For purposes of this subdivision, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) "Bullying" means any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act, and including one or more acts committed by a pupil or group of pupils as defined in Section 48900.2, 48900.3, or 48900.4, directed toward one or more pupils that has or can be reasonably predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following:

(A) Placing a reasonable pupil or pupils in fear of harm to that pupil's or those pupils' person or property.

(B) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience a substantially detrimental effect on the pupil's physical or mental health.

(C) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with the pupil's academic performance.

(D) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with the pupil's ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.

(2)(A) "Electronic act" means the creation or transmission originated on or off the schoolsite, by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone, or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager, of a communication, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

(i) A message, text, sound, video, or image.

(ii) A post on a social network internet website, including, but not limited to:

(I) Posting to or creating a burn page. "Burn page" means an internet website created for the purpose of having one or more of the effects listed in paragraph (1).

(II) Creating a credible impersonation of another actual pupil for the purpose of having one or more of the effects listed in paragraph (1). "Credible impersonation" means to knowingly and without consent impersonate a pupil for the purpose of bullying the pupil and such that another pupil would reasonably believe, or has reasonably believed, that the pupil was or is the pupil who was impersonated.

(III) Creating a false profile for the purpose of having one or more of the effects listed in paragraph (1). "False profile" means a profile of a fictitious pupil or a profile using the likeness or attributes of an actual pupil other than the pupil who created the false profile.

(iii)(I) An act of cyber sexual bullying.

(II) For purposes of this clause, "cyber sexual bullying" means the dissemination of, or the solicitation or incitement to disseminate, a photograph or other visual recording by a pupil to another pupil or to school personnel by means of an electronic act that has or can be reasonably predicted to have one or more of the effects described in subparagraphs (A) to (D), inclusive, of paragraph (1). A photograph or other visual recording, as described in this subclause, shall include the depiction of a nude, semi-nude, or sexually explicit photograph or other visual recording of a minor where the minor is identifiable from the photograph, visual recording, or other electronic act.

(III) For purposes of this clause, "cyber sexual bullying" does not include a depiction, portrayal, or image that has any serious literary, artistic, educational, political, or scientific value or that involves athletic events or school-sanctioned activities.

(B) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) and subparagraph (A), an electronic act shall not constitute pervasive conduct solely on the basis that it has been transmitted on the internet or is currently posted on the internet.

(3) "Reasonable pupil" means a pupil, including, but not limited to, a pupil with exceptional needs, who exercises average care, skill, and judgment in conduct for a person of that age, or for a person of that age with the pupil's exceptional needs.

(s) A pupil shall not be suspended or expelled for any of the acts enumerated in this section unless the act is related to a school activity or school attendance occurring within a school under the jurisdiction of the superintendent of the school district or principal or occurring within any other school district. A pupil may be suspended or expelled for acts that are enumerated in this section and related to a school activity or school attendance that occur at any time, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

(1) While on school grounds.

(2) While going to or coming from school.

(3) During the lunch period whether on or off the campus.

(4) During, or while going to or coming from, a school-sponsored activity.

(t) A pupil who aids or abets, as defined in Section 31 of the Penal Code, the infliction or attempted infliction of physical injury to another person may be subject to suspension, but not expulsion, pursuant to this section, except that a pupil who has been adjudged by a juvenile court to have committed, as an aider and abettor, a crime of physical violence in which the victim suffered great bodily injury or serious bodily injury shall be subject to discipline pursuant to subdivision (a).

(u) As used in this section, "school property" includes, but is not limited to, electronic files and databases.

(v) For a pupil subject to discipline under this section, a superintendent of the school district or principal is encouraged to provide alternatives to suspension or expulsion, using a research-based framework with strategies that improve behavioral and academic outcomes, that are age appropriate and designed to address and correct the pupil's specific misbehavior as specified in Section 48900.5.

(w)(1) It is the intent of the Legislature that alternatives to suspension or expulsion be imposed against a pupil who is truant, tardy, or otherwise absent from school activities.

(2) It is further the intent of the Legislature that the Multi-Tiered System of Supports, which includes restorative justice practices, trauma-informed practices, social and emotional learning, and schoolwide positive behavior interventions and support, may be used to help pupils gain critical social and emotional skills, receive support to help transform trauma-related responses, understand the impact of their actions, and develop meaningful methods for repairing harm to the school community.

EDC 48900.5.

(a) Suspension, including supervised suspension as described in Section 48911.1, shall be imposed only when other means of correction fail to bring about proper conduct. A school district may document the other means of correction used and place that documentation in the pupil's record, which may be accessed pursuant to Section 49069.7. However, a pupil, including an individual with exceptional needs, as defined in Section 56026, may be suspended, subject to Section 1415 of Title 20 of the United States Code, for any of the reasons enumerated in Section 48900 upon a first offense, if the principal or superintendent of schools determines that the pupil violated subdivision (a), (b), (c), (d), or (e) of Section 48900 or that the pupil's presence causes a danger to persons.

(b) Other means of correction include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1) A conference between school personnel, the pupil's parent or guardian, and the pupil.

(2) Referrals to the school counselor, psychologist, social worker, child welfare attendance personnel, or other school support service personnel for case management and counseling.

(3) Study teams, guidance teams, resource panel teams, or other intervention-related teams that assess the behavior, and develop and implement individualized plans to address the behavior in partnership with the pupil and the pupil's parents.

(4) Referral for a comprehensive psychosocial or psychoeducational assessment, including for purposes of creating an individualized education program, or a plan adopted pursuant to Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Sec. 794(a)).

(5) Enrollment in a program for teaching prosocial behavior or anger management.

(6) Participation in a restorative justice program.

(7) A positive behavior support approach with tiered interventions that occur during the schoolday on campus.

(8) After school programs that address specific behavioral issues or expose pupils to positive activities and behaviors, including, but not limited to, those operated in collaboration with local parent and community groups.

(9) Any of the alternatives described in Section 48900.6.

EDC 48900.6.

As part of or instead of disciplinary action prescribed by this article, the principal of a school, the principal's designee, the superintendent of schools, or the governing board may require a pupil to perform community service on school grounds or, with written permission of the parent or guardian of the pupil, off school grounds, during the pupil's nonschool hours. For the purposes of this section, "community service" may include, but is not limited to, work performed in the community or on school grounds in the areas of outdoor beautification, community or campus betterment, and teacher, peer, or youth assistance programs. This section does not apply if a pupil has been suspended, pending expulsion, pursuant to Section 48915. However, this section applies if the recommended expulsion is not implemented or is, itself, suspended by stipulation or other administrative action.

EDC 48911.1.

(a) A pupil suspended from a school for any of the reasons enumerated in Sections 48900 and 48900.2 may be assigned, by the principal or the principal's designee, to a supervised suspension classroom for the entire period of suspension if the pupil poses no imminent danger or threat to the campus, pupils, or staff, or if an action to expel the pupil has not been initiated.

(b) Pupils assigned to a supervised suspension classroom shall be separated from other pupils at the schoolsite for the period of suspension in a separate classroom, building, or site for pupils under suspension.

(c) School districts may continue to claim apportionments for each pupil assigned to and attending a supervised suspension classroom provided as follows:

(1) The supervised suspension classroom is staffed as otherwise provided by law.

(2) Each pupil has access to appropriate counseling services.

(3) The supervised suspension classroom promotes completion of schoolwork and tests missed by the pupil during the suspension.

(4) Each pupil is responsible for contacting his or her teacher or teachers to receive assignments to be completed while the pupil is assigned to the supervised suspension classroom. The teacher shall provide all assignments and tests that the pupil will miss while suspended. If no classroom work is assigned, the person supervising the suspension classroom shall assign schoolwork.

(d) At the time a pupil is assigned to a supervised suspension classroom, a school employee shall notify, in person or by telephone, the pupil's parent or guardian. Whenever a pupil is assigned to a supervised suspension classroom for longer than one class period, a school employee shall notify, in writing, the pupil's parent or guardian.

(e) This section does not place any limitation on a school district's ability to transfer a pupil to an opportunity school or class or a continuation education school or class.

(f) Apportionments claimed by a school district for pupils assigned to supervised suspension shall be used specifically to mitigate the cost of implementing this section.

EDC 48911.2.

(a) If the number of pupils suspended from school during the prior school year exceeded 30 percent of the school's enrollment, the school should consider doing at least one of the following:

(1) Implement the supervised suspension program described in Section 48911.1.

(2) Implement an alternative to the school's off-campus suspension program, which involves a progressive discipline approach that occurs during the schoolday on campus, using any of the following activities:

(A) Conferences between the school staff, parents, and pupils.

(B) Referral to the school counselor, psychologist, child welfare attendance personnel, or other school support service staff.

(C) Detention.

(D) Study teams, guidance teams, resource panel teams, or other assessment-related teams.

(b) At the end of the academic year, the school may report to the district superintendent in charge of school support services, or other comparable administrator if that position does not exist, on the rate of reduction in the school's off-campus suspensions and the plan or activities used to comply with subdivision (a).

(c) It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage schools that choose to implement this section to examine alternatives to off-campus suspensions that lead to resolution of pupil misconduct without sending pupils off campus. Schools that use this section should not be precluded from suspending pupils to an off-campus site.

EDC 48917.

(a) The governing board, upon voting to expel a pupil, may suspend the enforcement of the expulsion order for a period of not more than one calendar year and may, as a condition of the suspension of enforcement, assign the pupil to a school, class, or program that is deemed appropriate for the rehabilitation of the pupil. The rehabilitation program to which the pupil is assigned may provide for the involvement of the pupil's parent or guardian in his or her child's education in ways that are specified in the rehabilitation program. A parent or guardian's refusal to participate in the rehabilitation program shall not be considered in the governing board's determination as to whether the pupil has satisfactorily completed the rehabilitation program.

(b) The governing board shall apply the criteria for suspending the enforcement of the expulsion order equally to all pupils, including individuals with exceptional needs as defined in Section 56026.

(c) During the period of the suspension of the expulsion order, the pupil is deemed to be on probationary status.

(d) The governing board may revoke the suspension of an expulsion order under this section if the pupil commits any of the acts enumerated in Section 48900 or violates any of the district's rules and regulations governing pupil conduct. When the governing board revokes the suspension of an expulsion order, a pupil may be expelled under the terms of the original expulsion order.

(e) Upon satisfactory completion of the rehabilitation assignment of a pupil, the governing board shall reinstate the pupil in a school of the district and may also order the expungement of any or all records of the expulsion proceedings.

(f) A decision of the governing board to suspend an expulsion order does not affect the time period and requirements for the filing of an appeal of the expulsion order with the county board of education required under Section 48919. Any appeal shall be filed within 30 days of the original vote of the governing board.

EDC 49055.

(a) On or before June 1, 2024, the department shall develop evidence-based best practices for restorative justice practice implementation on a school campus and make these best practices available on the department’s internet website for use by local educational agencies to implement restorative justice practices as part of efforts to improve campus culture and climate. In developing best practices, the department shall consult with all of the following to identify best practices for effective, evidence-based restorative justice practices in elementary and secondary schools:

(1) School-based restorative justice practitioners.

(2) Educators from public schools serving kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive.

(3) Pupils from public schools serving kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive.

(4) Community partners or community members.

(5) Nonprofit and public entities.

(b) When developing best practices pursuant to subdivision (a), the department is encouraged to, to the extent feasible, take into account resources and best practices that have been identified or developed as part of aligned efforts, including, but not limited to, the Scaling Up MTSS Statewide (SUMS) Initiative, the California Community Schools Partnership Program, and resources developed by the department in support of social-emotional learning.

(c) For purposes of this section, “local educational agency” means a school district, county office of education, or charter school.

EDC 49600.

(a) The governing board of a school district may, and is urged to provide access to a comprehensive educational counseling program for all pupils enrolled in the school district. It is the intent of the Legislature that a school district that provides educational counseling to its pupils implement a structured and coherent counseling program within a Multi-Tiered System of Support Network.

(b) For purposes of this section, "educational counseling" means specialized services provided by a school counselor possessing a valid credential with a specialization in pupil personnel services who directly counsels pupils and implements equitable school programs and services that support pupils in their academic development, social emotional development, and college and career readiness.

(c) It is the intent of the Legislature that school counselors do all of the following:

(1) Engage with, advocate for, and provide both of the following services for all pupils: 

(A) Direct services, including, but not limited to, individual counseling, group counseling, risk assessment, crisis response, and instructional services, including, but not limited to mental health, behavioral, academic, and postsecondary educational services.

(B) Indirect services including but not limited to, positive school climate strategies, teacher and parent consultations, and referrals to public and private community services.

(2) Plan, implement, and evaluate comprehensive school counseling programs. 

(3) Work within multi-tiered systems of support that use multiple data sources to monitor and improve pupil behavior, attendance, engagement, and achievement.

(4) Develop, coordinate, and supervise comprehensive pupil support systems in collaboration with teachers, administrators, other pupil personnel services professionals, families, community partners, and community agencies, including county mental health agencies.

(5) Promote and maintain a safe learning environment for all pupils by providing restorative practices, positive behavior interventions, and support services, and by developing and responding with a variety of intervention strategies to meet individual, group, and school community needs before during and after crisis response

(6) Intervene to ameliorate school-related problems, including issues related to chronic absences and retention.

(7) Use research-based strategies to promote mental wellness, reduce mental health stigma, and identify characteristics, risk factors, and warning signs of pupils who develop, or are at risk of developing, mental health and behavioral disorders and who experience or are at risk of experiencing mistreatment, including mistreatment related to any form of conflict or bullying.

(8) Improve school climate and pupil well-being by, including but not limited to, addressing the mental and behavioral health needs of pupils during their times of transition, separation, heightened stress, and critical changes and accessing community programs and services to meet those needs.

(9) Enhance pupils' social and emotional competence, character, health, civic engagement, cultural literacy, and commitment to lifelong learning and the pursuit of high-quality educational programs.

(10) Provide counseling services for unduplicated pupils who are classified as English learners, eligible for free or reduced-price meals, or foster youth in a manner that promotes equity and access to appropriate education systems and public and private services.

(11) Engage in continued development as a professional school counselor.

(d) Educational counseling shall include academic counseling, and postsecondary services in the following areas:

(1) Development and implementation, with parental involvement, of the pupil's immediate and long-range educational plans.

(2) Optimizing progress towards achievement of proficiency standards and competencies.

(3) Completion of the required curriculum in accordance with the pupil's needs, abilities, interests, and aptitudes.

(4) Academic planning for access and success in higher education programs, including advisement on courses needed for admission to public colleges and universities, standardized admissions tests, and financial aid.

(5) Provide high-quality career programs at all grade levels for pupils, in which pupils are assisted in doing all of the following:

(A) Planning for the future, including, but not limited to, identifying personal interests, skills, and abilities, career planning, course selection, and career transition.

(B) Becoming aware of personal preferences and interests that influence educational and occupational exploration, career choice, and career success.

(C) Developing work self-efficacy for the ever-changing work environment, the changing needs of the workforce, and the effects of work on the quality of life.

(D) Understanding the relationship between academic achievement and career success, and the importance of maximizing career options.

(E) Understanding the value of participating in career technical education pathways, programs, and certifications, including but not limited to those related to regional occupational programs and centers, the federal program administered by the United Stated Department of Labor offering free education and vocational training to pupils known as “Job Corps,” the California Conservation Corps, work-based learning, industry certifications, college preparation and credit, and employment opportunities.

(F) Understanding the need to develop essential employable skills and work habits.

(G) Understanding entrance requirements to the Armed Forces of the United States, including the benefits of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.

(e) Educational counseling may also include counseling in any of the following:

(1) Individualized review of the academic and deportment records of a pupil.

(2) Advising pupils, in consultation with their parents and legal guardians, when at all possible, who are at risk of not promoting or graduating with the rest of their class.

(3) Developing a list of coursework and experience necessary to assist each pupil in middle school to successfully transition to high school and meet all graduation

(4) In schools that enroll pupils in grades 6 to 12, inclusive, developing a list of coursework and experience necessary to assist and counsel each pupil to begin to satisfy the A–G requirements for admission to the University of California and the California State University and encourage participation in college preparation programs, including, but not limited to, the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, and early college, dual enrollment, advanced placement, and international baccalaureate programs.

(5) Developing pupil knowledge of financial aid planning for postsecondary education by providing pupils with financial aid information, including, but not limited to, information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the California Dream Act application (CADAA), the Cal Grant Program established pursuant to Chapter 1.7 (commencing with Section 69430) of Part 42 of Division 5 of Title 3, local and national scholarship programs, financial aid programs and resources for foster and homeless youth, fee waiver programs, and other financial aid programs and options, and net college cost.

(6) Providing a copy of the lists developed pursuant to paragraph (4) to a pupil and the pupil’s parent or legal guardian, ensuring that the list of coursework and experience is part of the pupil’s cumulative record.

(7) Developing a list of coursework and experience for a pupil enrolled in grade 12, including options for continuing the pupil’s education if the pupil fails to meet graduation requirements. These options shall include, but are not limited to, all of the following:

(A) Enrolling in an adult education program.

(B) Enrolling in a community college.

(C) Continuing enrollment in the pupil's current school district.

(8) Providing a copy of the list of coursework and experiences developed pursuant to paragraph (7) to the pupil and the pupil’s parent or legal guardian, ensuring that the list of coursework and experience is part of the cumulative records of a pupil.

(9) Offering and scheduling an individual conference with each pupil in grades 10 and 12 who has not satisfied, or is not on track to satisfy, the curricular requirements for admission to the University of California and the California State University and to successfully transition to postsecondary education or employment, and providing the following information to the pupil and the pupil’s parent or legal guardian:

(10) Providing mental and behavioral health services to which pupils receive prevention, early intervention, and short-term counseling services and receive classroom instruction in mental health to reduce stigma and increase awareness of counseling support services.

(11) Providing training to school staff to recognize mental health warning signs.

(f) This section does not prohibit persons participating in an organized advisory program approved by the governing board of a school district, and supervised by a school district counselor, from advising pupils pursuant to the organized advisory program.

(g) Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting persons participating in an organized advisory program approved by the governing board of a school district, and supervised by a school district counselor, from advising pupils pursuant to the organized advisory program.

 

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