District of Columbia School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Due Process

Discipline Compendium

District of Columbia School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Due Process

Category: Exclusionary Discipline: Suspension, Expulsion, and Alternative Placement
Subcategory: Due Process
State: District of Columbia

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LAWS

§ 2-1535.03. Bullying prevention policy.

(b) Each agency, educational institution, and grantee shall control the content of its policy; provided, that each policy includes:

(8) An appeal process, in accordance with § 2-1535.04, for a person accused of bullying or a person who is the target of bullying who is not satisfied with the outcome of the initial investigation.

§ 2-1535.04. Secondary investigation appeal.

(a)(1) A party who is not satisfied with the outcome of the initial investigation conducted pursuant to § 2-1535.03(b)(7) may request a secondary investigation by submitting a written appeal to the higher-level authority in the agency, educational institution, or grantee designated to hear appeals within 30 days of the conclusion of the investigation conducted pursuant to § 2-1535.03(b)(7).

(2) The secondary investigation shall be completed within 30 days of receipt of the appeal, unless:

(A) Circumstances require additional time to complete a thorough investigation;

(B) The higher-level authority sets forth those circumstances in writing; and

(C) The additional time does not exceed 15 days.

(b)(1) When an appeal for a secondary investigation is submitted, the agency, educational institution, or grantee shall inform the party about his or her ability to seek further redress under the Human Rights Act.

(2) This section shall not be construed to limit the right of a person to assert or seek redress for a claim arising under the Human Rights Act.

§ 38-236.03. Establishment of school discipline policies.

(b) Local education agencies shall adopt, in consultation with school personnel, students, and parents, school discipline policies to promote the safety and well-being of students and staff. School discipline policies shall:

(12) Articulate clearly the due process rights and procedures available to students and parents.

§ 38-236.04. Limitations on exclusion as a disciplinary action.

(g) For purposes of due process, a suspension of 6 school days or more shall be considered a long-term suspension.

REGULATIONS

4-1502. Adoption of a bullying prevention policy.

1502.3 A covered entity's bullying prevention policy shall at a minimum include the following elements:

(i) A secondary investigation appeal process, consistent with § 1506, for a person accused of bullying or a person who is the target of bullying or retaliation who is not satisfied with the outcome of an initial investigation under § 1505.

4-1506. Secondary Investigation Appeals.

1506.1 Each covered entity shall have an appeals process in place for conducting a secondary investigation where a written request for a secondary investigation is submitted within thirty (30) days after the conclusion of the initial investigation.

1506.2 The secondary investigation shall be conducted by an employee who has a higher level of authority at the covered entity than the one who conducted the investigation and who was not involved in the initial investigation.

1506.3 The secondary investigation shall be completed within thirty (30) days after receipt of the request for a secondary investigation unless the higher-level authority requires additional time to complete a thorough investigation and the higher-level authority sets forth those circumstances in writing. Under those circumstances, the deadline may be extended past the thirty (30) day period by fifteen (15) days.

1506.4 After completing the secondary investigation, the higher-level authority shall notify the parties in writing of the results of the investigation and of the party's ability to seek additional redress under the DCHRA under D.C. Official Code § 2-1402.41. Such notification must be in writing and include:

(a) The name of the BPP Director;

(b) The address and telephone number of the OHR;

(c) The text contained in § 1513 of these regulations outlining the parties' options for appeal through OHR; and

(d) Notification that complaints of violations under DCHRA and the Act must be filed within one (1) year of the incident.

5-A2103. Absentee intervention and school-based student support teams.

2103.2 Each LEA shall incorporate evidence-based practice into its absenteeism protocol, considering procedures to address the following:

(c) Procedures for monitoring, reporting, addressing, and evaluating attendance and absences consistent with District of Columbia attendance and absence reporting requirements including:

(5) A process including specific due process procedures, for a parent, guardian, or student to appeal any attendance violation decisions made by the educational institution.

5-B2103. Truancy.

2103.7 A written appeal may be filed by a parent or student on behalf of any student receiving a failing grade(s) due to unexcused absences.

2103.8 An appeal filed pursuant to § 2103.7 shall be submitted to the principal of the school attended or to a designee of the Chancellor within ten (10) school days after receipt of the failing grade(s).

2103.9 Upon receipt of an appeal filed pursuant to § 2103.7, the principal or Chancellor's designee shall appoint an Appeals Panel and shall forward all written appeal requests to the panel chairperson within three (3) school days.

2103.10 The Appeals Panel referenced in § 2103.9 shall consist of not less than three (3) members to be selected from the following, one of which shall be from category (a):

(a) A person designated by the principal or Chancellor's designee, who shall be the panel chairperson;

(b) A guidance counselor;

(c) A department chairperson;

(d) A teacher, other than the one involved in the matter being appealed;

(e) An attendance staff person; or

(f) A representative from DCPS central office administration.

2103.11 Substitutions of no more than two (2) members of the Appeals Panel described in § 2103.10 may be made when necessary.

2103.12 The Appeals Panel shall hold a hearing within ten (10) school days after its appointment by the principal or Chancellor's designee.

2103.13 The student, his or her parent, guardian or duly authorized representative shall appear at the hearing to represent the student. One of these individuals shall be given the opportunity to present the student's case and, upon request, to question the involved teacher and to be duly informed of the panel's recommendations.

2103.14 Each appeals panelist, including the chair, shall have an equal vote; however, two (2) voting members can render a decision.

2103.15 In the case of a tie vote, the initial grade is deemed to be upheld by the Appeals Panel.

2103.16 The Appeals Panel's recommendation shall be forwarded immediately to the principal or Chancellor's designee who shall issue the Panel's decision within ten (10) school days after the hearing.

2103.17 The student, his or her parent or guardian, or duly authorized representative may appeal the decision of the Appeals Panel by writing to the Chancellor's official grade appeal designee within ten (10) school days after receipt of the decision.

2103.18 When an appeal is filed pursuant to § 2103.17, the Chancellor's official grade appeal designee shall review all documentation submitted and issue the final administrative decision in the matter.

2103.19 The following procedural guidelines shall apply to appeals reviewed pursuant to § 2103.18:

(a) The burden to show why the grade(s) in question should be changed shall be on the student or his or her parent or guardian;

(b) Strict rules of evidence shall not apply; and

(c) A written determination shall be issued within five (5) school days of the review and consideration of all submitted evidence.

5-B2503. Policy for disciplinary actions.

2503.1 All disciplinary actions shall be effected pursuant to the rules in this Chapter. Disciplinary actions that do not result in removal from the classroom for more than half a school day may be effected through procedures established by the principal at each school. The principal shall establish such procedures in writing and provide a written copy to students and parents. Procedures shall include a process for appealing such disciplinary responses to the principal.

5-B2504. Policy for suspensions and expulsions.

2504.4 A student may be suspended prior to a conference pursuant to § 2505 if he or she is contributing to an emergency situation in a school. An emergency situation may exist either because of general conditions in the school (e.g., a series of fires or False Alarms; a manifestly high level of student tension; an increasing number of fights or physical attacks; a large number of abuses of property) or because the behavior of an individual student is so disruptive or dangerous that he/she poses a very real and immediate threat to the health and safety of other members of the school community, or to the ability of the school community or the school or portion thereof to continue normal operations.

5-B2505. Procedures for suspensions and expulsions.

2505.2 Expulsions for violations of the Gun-Free School Act may be modified only by the Chancellor.

2505.3 Any student who is to be suspended or expelled shall be given a conference with the school official responsible for proposing the disciplinary action, prior to the Suspension or Expulsion. In the event that a student is suspended pursuant to § 2504.4 due to emergency conditions, the conference shall be held no more than three (3) school days after the Suspension is initiated.

2505.4 The conference shall include a discussion of the following:

(a) The grounds for disciplinary action as referred to in this chapter including a citation of the rule(s) upon which the action is based, and a description, in reasonable detail, of the facts and events upon which the disciplinary action is proposed;

(b) An explanation of the evidence or facts upon which the school official has determined that the student has committed an infraction, as defined in this chapter, including a summary of the recommended disciplinary action;

(c) An opportunity for the student to present the student's version of the facts or to explain the events or action upon which the alleged infraction is based;

(d) The decision regarding the infraction and the recommended disciplinary action to be provided after the student has had an opportunity to present his or her version of the facts and/or to explain the events or actions upon which the alleged infraction is based;

(e) A statement informing the adult student, or minor student's parent or guardian, of the right to examine the student's records and any official report of the incident prior to the imposition of the proposed discipline; and

(f) The student's rights to an appeal pursuant to § 2505.13 or to a hearing pursuant to § 2505.14.

(g) If the principal is recommending Long-Term Suspension or Expulsion, the principal shall report his or her findings and recommendations from the conference in writing to the student and parent or guardian and a person designated by the Chancellor. The principal shall also inform the student and parent or guardian in writing of disciplinary hearing procedures, appeal rights, the intervention supports available to the student, and the requirements for readmission.

2505.5 The conference may include the parent or guardian, witnesses, and/or legal representative, but participation by such party(ies) shall not be required.

2505.6 Students and parents or guardians shall be provided written notice of all Suspensions and Expulsions as follows:

(a) No student may be suspended or expelled, including on-site Suspension, without written notice to the adult student or minor student's parent or guardian.

(b) Following the oral notice provided to parents or guardians pursuant to § 2504.13 verifiable written notice using contact information provided by the parent or guardian (e.g. email, certified mail, or hand-delivered mail with a signature receipt) of all authorized or proposed Suspensions and Expulsions must be sent to the parent or guardian or to the adult student no later than one (1) school day after the decision by the principal or a person designated by the Chancellor to authorize or propose Suspension or Expulsion.

(c) The notice must inform the parent or guardian of the identity of the person who has the authority to modify or rescind the proposed Suspension or Expulsion. Adult students shall receive notification of their infraction in the same manner.

(d) The notice must also include a description of the infraction including a citation of the rule(s) upon which the action is based, a summary of the facts, the length of the proposed Suspension or Expulsion, the principal's recommendation for an Education Plan or Alternative Educational Setting; and a description of the student's right to appeal pursuant to § 2505.13 or to a hearing pursuant to § 2505.14.

(e) A student who has been given a notice of proposed Expulsion may be immediately placed on Suspension in accordance with the rules and procedures set forth in this section.

2505.7 A principal authorizing Short-Term Suspension shall submit the authorization to a person designated by the Chancellor within one (1) school day.

2505.8 A principal or school official proposing Medium- or Long-Term Suspension must immediately submit the proposal to a person designated by the Chancellor. A person designated by the Chancellor may authorize the proposed Suspension or modify it to reduce the number of days suspended.

2505.9 A principal or school official proposing Expulsion shall make a written recommendation for Expulsion to a person designated by the Chancellor no more than one (1) school day after the Expulsion conference. The principal's recommendation may be made based upon an initial recommendation from a teacher or other school official. The recommendation to expel shall be supported by sufficient written documentation to enable a person designated by the Chancellor to make an independent decision regarding Expulsion. A copy of this recommendation and any attendant documentation shall also be provided to the parent or guardian of the student involved.

2505.10 No more than five (5) school days after receiving the principal's findings, a person designated by the Chancellor shall either concur with or modify the recommended action. If a principal recommends Expulsion for bringing a weapon as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921 into DCPS in violation of the Gun-Free Schools Act, only the Chancellor may modify the Expulsion recommendation.

2505.11 In determining whether to propose an Expulsion, a person designated by the Chancellor shall consider the factors enumerated in § 2500.

2505.12 If a person designated by the Chancellor does not concur with the recommended Expulsion, he or she may propose other disciplinary action.

2505.13 If a person designated by the Chancellor concurs with the recommended Expulsion, he or she shall immediately forward a written proposal for Expulsion to the head of the Office of Youth Engagement.

2505.14 A student who has been suspended for fewer than eleven (11) days may appeal the Suspension as follows:

(a) A Short-Term Suspension may be appealed to the principal.

(b) A Medium-Term Suspension may be appealed to a person designated by a Chancellor.

(c) All appeals must be made by the student's parent or guardian or the adult student, either orally or in writing to the principal or person designated by the Chancellor, as appropriate, no later than two (2) school days after receiving the notice of Suspension, and may be made prior to receiving formal written notice of the Suspension. An appeal made orally shall be put in writing by the person receiving the request.

(d) All appeals will be heard by the principal (for Short-Term Suspensions) or a person designated by the Chancellor (for Medium-Term Suspensions) no later than one (1) school day after the appeal is requested. Upon request of the adult student or minor student's parent or guardian, the time for the appeal may be extended up to three (3) school days. The appeal may be held by telephone upon request of the parent or guardian if necessary due to health, work, or childcare.

(e) The student and his or her parent or guardian may present evidence and ask witnesses to speak.

(f) At the conclusion of the conference, the principal or a person designated by the Chancellor, as appropriate, shall render a final decision.

(g) No more than one (1) school day after the conference, the principal or a person designated by the Chancellor, as appropriate, shall give the student and his or her parent or guardian, a person designated by the Chancellor, and the head of the Office of Youth Engagement a written summary of the conference proceedings, including the final decision.

2505.15 A student who has been suspended for eleven (11) days or more or who has been expelled shall have a disciplinary hearing pursuant to the procedures in § 2506.

2505.16 No more than one (1) school day after authorization or modification of a Long-Term Suspension or Expulsion, the person designated by the Chancellor shall forward the recommended Suspension or Expulsion to the hearing office for immediate scheduling and shall provide notice of the intent to schedule a hearing to the parent or guardian or adult student.

2505.17 Once a hearing is scheduled by the hearing office, the student shall be placed on Suspension, or in another appropriate placement until the conclusion of the hearing and appeals processes.

5-B2506. Procedures for disciplinary hearings.

2506.1 Disciplinary hearings shall be held at a time and place that is reasonably convenient to the student and parent or guardian.

2506.2 For Long-Term Suspensions and Expulsions, the hearing shall be held not more than four (4) school days after a written notice regarding disciplinary action is provided to the parent or guardian or adult student, except that the hearing may be postponed for not more than five (5) school days upon the request of the adult student, minor student's parent or guardian, or his or her representative, where postponement of the hearing is necessary to prepare for the hearing, provide for the hearing, or provide for the attendance of necessary parties, including interpreters. The hearing office shall provide written notice to the parent or guardian or adult student of the date, time, and location of the hearing immediately upon scheduling the hearing. The notice from the hearing office shall state what consequences, if any, result from failure to attend the hearing.

2506.3 The hearing shall be closed to the public unless the parent or guardian or adult student requests an open hearing.

2506.4 The student shall have a right, but shall not be required, to have a representative or legal counsel, selected by the parent or guardian or adult student.

2506.5 The student, parent or guardian, or representative shall have the right to question any witness or challenge any documentary evidence.

2506.6 The parent or guardian or adult student shall have the opportunity to present testimony and documentary evidence, including the opportunity to call any witness to present testimony relevant to the disciplinary action or other school system recommendation. The right to call witnesses shall include the right to require the presence of any involved school official.

2506.7 It shall be the burden of the DCPS to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the student did commit the infraction(s) upon which the disciplinary action is based.

2506.8 The hearing officer shall ensure that all due process procedures have been followed or waived.

2506.9 The hearing officer may question any witness or party and shall examine all documentary evidence.

2506.10 The hearing shall not be conducted according to the rules of evidence. However, the hearing officer may exclude any testimony or evidence that is irrelevant or repetitive.

2506.11 The hearing officer shall ensure that the hearing is conducted in a fair and orderly manner and shall have the authority to exclude any party or other person from the hearing on the grounds of substantial interference or obstruction of the orderly hearing process.

2506.12 The hearing officer shall make an official electronic audio recording of the hearing, which shall constitute the official record thereof. Upon request, a copy of the recording shall be made available to the parent or guardian, adult student, or representative and the local school principal. This provision shall not preclude a parent or guardian or representative from also recording or transcribing the hearing at his or her expense.

2506.13 The principal or school official shall indicate a recommendation of the school system for the duration of the off-site placement.

5-B2507. Hearing officer recommendation.

2507.1 Within one (1) school day of the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing, the hearing officer shall issue a written recommendation which shall include the following:

(a) A statement of the facts, as determined from the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing;

(b) A conclusion as to whether the required due process procedures have been properly followed or waived;

(c) A conclusion as to whether the student committed the infraction(s) upon which the disciplinary action is based; and

(d) A determination regarding the appropriateness of the proposed disciplinary action or an order for a modification thereof, including consideration of the factors enumerated in § 2500.8 and explicit justification for any recommended modification.

2507.2 For Long-Term Suspensions, a person designated by the Chancellor shall render a final decision no later than one (1) school day after receiving the hearing officer's recommendation.

2507.3 For Expulsions, the head of the Office of Youth Engagement shall render a final decision no later than one (1) school day after receiving the hearing officer's recommendation.

2507.4 A copy of the written determination provided by a person designated by the Chancellor or by the head of the Office of Youth Engagement shall be given or mailed, within twenty-four (24) hours, to the adult student, the minor student's parent or guardian, and their representatives, if any.

2507.5 Additional copies of the determination by a person designated by the Chancellor or the head of the Office of Youth Engagement shall be sent, within twenty-four (24) hours, to the principal or other school official in charge of the school or program in which the student is enrolled, and retained in the files of the student hearing office.

2507.6 If the hearing officer recommends disciplinary action is not warranted, based on the fact that the student did not violate any DCPS rule or policy, the determination shall include an order to destroy all school records regarding the disciplinary action, including any reports that relate to the incident upon which the disciplinary action was proposed, insofar as those reports individually identify the student. If the hearing officer determines that disciplinary action is not warranted and either: (a) fails to state whether a DCPS rule or policy was violated, or, (b) states that a DCPS rule or policy was violated but nevertheless finds the disciplinary action to be unwarranted, the school may maintain documents concerning the alleged infraction until the conclusion of the school year immediately following the incident.

2507.7 Long-Term Suspension may be appealed directly to the head of the Office of Youth Engagement:

(a) A parent or guardian, or adult student who wishes to appeal a Long-Term Suspension to the head of the Office of Youth Engagement must submit a written or oral request to appeal the proposed Long-Term Suspension within five (5) school days of receiving notification of the Long-Term Suspension. If the request is made orally, it shall be recorded in writing by the person receiving the request.

(b) Upon receipt of an appeal, the head of the Office of Youth Engagement shall schedule a conference with the parent or guardian, or adult student, to be held within three (3) school days of receiving the appeal request.

(c) During the conference, the parent or guardian, or adult student, may present arguments in support of his or her appeal. The student shall have a right, but shall not be required, to have a representative or legal counsel, selected by the parent or guardian or adult student. The appeal may be held by telephone upon request of the parent or guardian. The conference may be recorded by any of the parties.

(d) No more than two (2) school days after the conclusion of the conference, the head of the Office of Youth Engagement shall render a final decision. The head of the Office of Youth Engagement shall provide the parent or guardian, or adult student, and a person designated by the Chancellor, a written summary of the conference proceedings and decision.

2507.8 If the head of the Office of Youth Engagement has authorized Expulsion for violating the Gun-Free Schools Act, the parent or guardian or adult student may appeal the decision to the Chancellor pursuant to the process outlined in § 2507.9. The decision of the Chancellor shall be final and shall be provided in writing to the parent or guardian, or adult student, person designated by the Chancellor, and the principal of the school from which the student was expelled.

2507.8 Notwithstanding the other provisions of this section, a person designated by the Chancellor may, at his or her discretion, initiate Expulsion action without the recommendation of a principal or designee.

2507.9 An Expulsion may be appealed directly to the Chancellor.

(a) A parent or guardian, or adult student who wishes to appeal an Expulsion directly to the Chancellor must submit a written or oral request to appeal the proposal within five (5) school days of receiving notification of the Expulsion. If the request is made orally, it shall be recorded in writing by the person receiving the request.

(b) Upon receipt of an appeal, the Chancellor or his/her designee shall schedule a conference with the parent or guardian, or adult student, to be held within three (3) school days of receiving the appeal request.

(c) During the conference, the parent or guardian, or adult student, may present arguments in support of his or her appeal. The student shall have a right, but shall not be required, to have a representative or legal counsel, selected by the parent or guardian or adult student. The appeal may be held by telephone upon request of the parent or guardian. The conference may be recorded by any of the parties.

(d) No more than two (2) school days after the conclusion of the conference, the Chancellor shall render a final decision. The Chancellor shall provide the parent or guardian, or adult stu

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