District of Columbia School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Limitations or Conditions on Exclusionary Discipline

Discipline Compendium

District of Columbia School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Limitations or Conditions on Exclusionary Discipline

Category: Exclusionary Discipline: Suspension, Expulsion, and Alternative Placement
Subcategory: Limitations or Conditions on Exclusionary Discipline
State: District of Columbia

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LAWS

§ 38-231. Expulsion of students who bring weapons into public schools.

Absent extenuating circumstances, as determined on a case-by-case basis by the Superintendent of Schools, and consistent with the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, approved October 30, 1990 (104 Stat. 1141; 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.), any student who brings a weapon into a District of Columbia Public School shall be expelled for not less than one year.

§ 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:

(4) Include a plan for continuity of education for any student subject to a suspension, including a mechanism for modifications to the plan to meet the needs of an individual student, as necessary, to facilitate the student's return to the classroom, and appropriate measures to ensure the student:

(A) Continues the student's studies during the suspension and receives all appropriate assignments for the duration of the suspension;

(B) Can communicate with school personnel regarding academic work; and

(C) Upon returning to school, has the opportunity to make up any school work missed during the suspension if the school work cannot be completed by the student during the student's suspension.

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

(a) Unless otherwise required by federal or District law:

(1) Beginning in school year 2019-2020, for students in grades kindergarten through 5, and school year 2020-2021 for students in grades 6 through 8, no student may be subject to an out-of-school suspension or disciplinary unenrollment, unless a school administrator determines, consistent with school policy, that the student has willfully caused, attempted to cause, or threatened to cause bodily injury or emotional distress to another person, including behavior that happens off school grounds;

(2) Beginning in school year 2020-2021, no student in grades 9 through 12, except a student over 18 years of age at a school where more than 1/2 of the students are over 18 years of age, may be subject to an out-of-school suspension or disciplinary unenrollment for:

(A) Violating local education agency or school dress code or uniform rules;

(B) Willful defiance; or

(C) Behavior that happens off school grounds and not as part of a school-sponsored activity, unless the student has willfully caused, attempted to cause, or threatened to cause bodily injury or emotional distress to another person.

(b) No student, except a student over 18 years of age at a school where more than 1/2 of the students are over 18 years of age, may be subject to an out-of-school suspension for longer than:

(1) Five consecutive school days for any individual incident in grades kindergarten through 5;

(2) Ten consecutive school days for any individual incident in grades 6 through 12; or

(3) Twenty cumulative school days during an academic year regardless of grade, unless:

(A) The head of a local education agency provides a written justification to the student and parent describing why exceeding the 20-day limit is a more appropriate disciplinary action than alternative responses; or

(B) The student's conduct necessitated an emergency removal, and the head of the local education agency provides a written justification for the emergency removal to the student and parent.

(c) No student, except a student over 18 years of age at a school where more than 1/2 of the students are over 18 years of age, may be subject to an out-of-school suspension or disciplinary unenrollment for an unexcused absence or a late arrival to school; provided, that a student may be unenrolled from a local education agency if the student has accumulated 20 or more consecutive full-school-day unexcused absences.

(d) No student subject to a suspension may be denied the right to continue to access and complete appropriate academic work or to earn credit toward promotion or graduation during a suspension.

(e) The return of a student to school upon conclusion of an out-of-school suspension shall not be made contingent on a parent accompanying the student, attending a conference, or otherwise being present at the school.

(f) Notwithstanding whether a school or local education agency states the reasoning for the removal from school or prohibition from returning to school, no student may be removed from school or prohibited from returning to school for disciplinary reasons, unless the student is subject to an out-of-school suspension or disciplinary unenrollment.

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

§ 38-273.03. Restriction on out-of-school discipline for pre-k age students.

(a) Beginning in school year 2015-2016, no student of pre-k age may receive a disciplinary unenrollment, as defined in § 38-236.01(3), from any publicly funded community-based organization, school in the District of Columbia Public Schools system, or public charter school that provides pre-k care and education services to pre-k age children.

(b) Beginning in school year 2015-2016, no student of pre-k age may receive an out-of-school suspension from any publicly funded community-based organization, school in the District of Columbia Public Schools system, or public charter school that provides pre-k care and education services to pre-k age children, unless it is determined by a school or program administrator that the student has willfully caused or attempted to cause bodily injury, or threatened serious bodily injury to another person, except in self-defense. No student of pre-k age may be suspended for longer than 3 days for any individual incident.

REGULATIONS

5-B2408. Dress codes/uniforms.

2408.13 With the exception of the disciplinary action described in section 2408.16, students violating the mandatory uniform policy shall be subject to progressive corrective measures and disciplinary action. Additionally:

(a) Parents shall be called when a student reports to school out of uniform. The parent shall be asked to bring compliant clothing for the student to school.

(b) If the parents are not reachable or are unable to respond within two hours of the start of the school day, the student may be issued a conforming uniform from the school's uniform bank with directions to return it clean the next school day.

2408.14 Under no circumstance shall a student who fails to abide by a mandatory uniform policy be given out-of-school suspension or otherwise be barred from attending school.

2408.15 A fourth offense of a mandatory uniform policy may subject a student, at the principal's discretion, to on-site suspension.

2408.16 If a student fails to abide by a mandatory uniform policy more than four times, a behavioral contract may be written in which the consequences for not fulfilling the terms of the contract may include a referral to a placement team to determine a more appropriate setting. Any transfer to an alternative setting must be approved by the Chancellor.

5-B2500. General policy.

2500.4 Whenever possible, prevention, intervention, and remediation strategies shall be used in addition to disciplinary responses at all stages of the disciplinary process, including students transitioning from Suspension or Expulsion. […]

2500.9 Disciplinary responses shall be logical, appropriate, and instructive. Disciplinary responses shall consider factors such as:

(a) The nature of the infraction;

(b) Circumstances relating to the infraction;

(c) The age of the student;

(d) The student's previous behavioral history;

(e) Previous participation in counseling or conflict resolution efforts such as peer mediation;

(f) Whether injury occurred;

(g) Whether a weapon or controlled substance was involved;

(h) The safety of other students and staff;

(i) The educational needs of other students;

(j) The educational needs of the student to be disciplined (including those enumerated in an IEP or a plan issued pursuant to § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, approved September 26, 1973 (87 Stat. 355; 29 U.S.C. § 794)); and

(k) Extenuating circumstances.

5-B2502. Grounds for disciplinary action.

2502.1 Tier I behaviors are those behaviors that are insubordinate or cause minor disruptions to the academic environment but do not involve damage to school property or harm to self or others. Tier I behaviors result in classroom-level disciplinary responses that may be elevated to administrative response if they are not successfully abated by the teacher or the appropriate school-level committee.

(a) The following behaviors shall be considered Tier I behaviors:

(1) Refusal to present school-issued identification upon request;

(2) Attending class without required class materials or assigned work;

(3) Off-task behaviors that demonstrate disengagement from classroom learning;

(4) Behaviors that disrupt or interfere with classroom teaching and learning;

(5) Unexcused lateness for school or class;

(6) Inappropriate displays of affection;

(7) Excessive noise in the classroom, hall, or school building;

(8) Running in the classroom, hall, or school building;

(9) Communicating with staff and peers in a manner that is not polite, courteous, or respectful;

(10) Directing profanity or obscene/offensive gestures toward peers;

(11) Refusal to comply with staff instructions, or classroom or school rules; and

(12) Any behavior or other conduct not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that is insubordinate or causes minor disruption to the academic environment but does not involve damage to school property or harm to self or others.

(b) Disciplinary responses for Tier I behaviors shall include:

(1) Verbal redirection or reprimand;

(2) Teacher/student conference;

(3) Parental contact in writing or by phone;

(4) Teacher/parent conference;

(5) Temporary Removal of Student from Classroom;

(6) In-School Disciplinary Action;

(7) Behavior contract; and

(8) Other school-based consequences as approved by a person designated by the Chancellor.

2502.2 Tier II behaviors are those behaviors not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that cause disruption to the academic environment, involve damage to school property, or may cause minor harm to self or others. Tier II behaviors result in school-based and administrative disciplinary responses.

(a) The following behaviors shall be considered Tier II behaviors:

(1) Using computer/office equipment without permission;

(2) Intentional Misuse of School Equipment/Supplies/Facilities;

(3) Unauthorized use of portable electronic devices during school hours (e.g. mp3 players, cell phones);

(4) Non-compliance with approved dress code/uniform policy;

(5) Leaving classroom without permission;

(6) Unexcused absence from class;

(7) Unauthorized presence in hallway during class time;

(8) Unexcused absence from school;

(9) Inappropriate or disruptive physical contact between students;

(10) Directing profanity or obscene/offensive gestures toward staff;

(11) Throwing objects that may cause injury or damage to property;

(12) Any behavior or other conduct not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that causes disruption to the academic environment, involves damage to school property, or may cause minor harm to self or others; and

(13) Documented Pattern of Persistent Tier I Behavior.

(b) Disciplinary responses for Tier II behaviors shall include:

(1) Verbal redirection or reprimand;

(2) Teacher/student or administrator/student conference;

(3) Parental contact in writing or by phone;

(4) Administrator/parent conference;

(5) Temporary Removal of Student from Classroom;

(6) In-School Disciplinary Action;

(7) Behavior contract;

(8) Other school-based consequences as approved by a person designated by the Chancellor; and

(9) In the case of non-compliance with an approved dress code or uniform policy, disciplinary actions described in section 2408.16 of this title.

2502.3 Tier III behaviors are those behaviors not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that cause significant disruption to the academic environment or cause harm to self or others. In addition to lesser consequences, Tier III behaviors may result in either on-site or off-site Suspension.

(a) The following behaviors shall be considered Tier III behaviors:

(1) Inappropriate Use of DCPS Computer or Network (restricted websites, offensive emails);

(2) Sale or Distribution of any item without authorization;

(3) Possession or Distribution of obscene or pornographic material on school premises;

(4) Possession or Use of tobacco;

(5) Use of alcohol;

(6) Use of marijuana, controlled dangerous substances, imitation controlled substances, inhalants, other intoxicants, or drug paraphernalia;

(7) Unauthorized Possession, Use, or Distribution of over-the-counter medication;

(8) Verbal, written, or physical Threat to person or property (including intimidating postures);

(9) Obscene, seriously offensive, or abusive language or gestures;

(10) Causing disruption on school property or at any DCPS-sponsored or supervised activity;

(11) Gambling;

(12) Communicating slurs based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, or place of residence or business, including derogatory sexual language;

(13) Engaging in Sexual Acts on school premises or at school-related functions;

(14) Leaving school without permission;

(15) Academic Dishonesty;

(16) Forgery;

(17) Lying to or giving misleading information to school staff;

(18) Posting or distributing material or literature that is disrespectful, demeaning, humiliating, or damaging to students and/or staff. This includes posting material on internet or sending material electronically (via email or cell phone);

(19) Engaging in behavior that demonstrates Gang/neighborhood crew affiliation (displaying clothing or gestures associated with Gangs);

(20) Hazing;

(21) Bullying, or using humiliating, or intimidating language or behavior, including Internet Bullying;

(22) Possession of tools or instruments which school administrators deem could be used as weapons;

(23) Engaging in reckless behavior that may cause harm to self or others;

(24) Extortion;

(25) Fighting where there is no injury and no weapon;

(26) Trespassing;

(27) Any behavior or other conduct not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that causes significant disruption to the academic environment or causes harm to self or others;

(28) Documented Pattern of Persistent Tier II Behavior

(b) Disciplinary responses for Tier III behaviors shall include:

(1) Verbal redirection/reprimand;

(2) Teacher/student conference or administrator/student conference;

(3) Parental contact (written or by phone);

(4) Parent conference;

(5) Temporary Removal of Student from Classroom;

(6) Behavior contract;

(7) In-School Disciplinary Action;

(8) Grade reduction for Academic Dishonesty;

(9) On-site Short-Term Suspension with provision of appropriate intervention services;

(10) Off-site Short-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence; and

(11) Off-site Medium-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence.

2502.4 Tier IV behaviors are those behaviors not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that cause disruption to the school operation, destroy school property, or cause significant harm to self or others. Tier IV behaviors result in off-site Suspension.

(a) The following behaviors shall be considered Tier IV behaviors:

(1) Acts of vandalism, destruction of property, or graffiti (tagging);

(2) Documented theft of school or personal property without force;

(3) Interfering with school authorities or participating in a major disruption of the school's operation.

(4) Tampering with, changing, or altering an official record or document of a school;

(5) Persistent Harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, or place of residence or business;

(6) Lewd or indecent public behavior or sexual misconduct;

(7) Sexual Harassment;

(8) Retaliation for reporting Harassment and Sexual Harassment;

(9) Fighting which creates substantial risk of or results in minor injury;

(10) Inciting others to violence or disruption;

(11) Activating False Alarm;

(12) Contaminating food;

(13) Possession of a weapon or replica or imitation of a weapon (including water guns), other than weapons subject to the requirements of the Gun-Free Schools Act;

(14) Using an article that is not normally considered a weapon to intimidate or threaten another individual;

(15) Any behavior or other conduct not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that causes disruption to the school operation, destroys school property, or causes significant harm to self or others; and

(16) Documented Pattern of Persistent Tier III Behavior enumerated at 2502.3(a)(1) through (27).

(b) Disciplinary responses for Tier IV behaviors include:

(1) Off-site Short-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence;

(2) Off-site Medium-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence; and

(3) Off-site Long-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence.

2502.5 Tier V behaviors are those behaviors not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that are illegal, cause significant disruption to the school operation, or cause substantial harm to self or others. Tier V behaviors result in off-site Suspension or Expulsion.

(a) The following behaviors shall be considered Tier V behaviors:

(1) Acts of Exceptional Misconduct at other schools;

(2) Vandalism/destruction of property over $500;

(3) Selling or Distribution of marijuana, prescription drugs, controlled dangerous substances, imitation controlled substances, inhalants, other intoxicants, controlled or drug paraphernalia;

(4) The Possession or Distribution of alcohol;

(5) The Possession of drug paraphernalia or controlled substance, irrespective of the amount or type, pursuant to the criminal statutes of the District of Columbia, codified at D.C. Official Code § 48-1101 et seq. (2001)

(6) Causing serious disruption or damage to school's computer systems, electronic files, or network;

(7) Possession of fireworks or explosives;

(8) Theft or attempted theft using force, coercion, intimidation, or Threat of violence;

(9) Assault or physical attack on student or staff;

(10) Fighting which results in a serious physical injury;

(11) Participating in group fight which has been planned, causes major disruption to school day or results in substantial bodily injury;

(12) Using an article that is not normally considered a weapon to injure another individual;

(13) Use, threatened use, or transfer of any weapon;

(14) Use, Possession, or bringing to school a loaded or unloaded firearm, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921 (2000), including but not limited to pistols, blank pistols, starter pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns.

(15) Any behavior that violates the Gun-Free Schools Act;

(16) Deliberate acts that cause severe physical injury to another person (s).

(17) Assault with a weapon;

(18) Commission or attempted commission of any act of sexual assault or sexual aggression;

(19) Arson;

(20) Biohazard;

(21) Bomb threat;

(22) Any other intentional use of violence, force, coercion, Threats, intimidation, or other comparable conduct which causes or attempts to cause severe physical injury, substantial disruption, or obstruction of any lawful mission, process, or function of the D.C. Public Schools;

(23) Any behavior or other conduct not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that is illegal, causes significant disruption to the school operation, or causes substantial harm to self or others; and

(24) Documented Pattern of Persistent Tier IV Behavior.

(b) Disciplinary responses for Tier V behaviors include:

(1) Off-site Long-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence; and

(2) Expulsion.

(c) Weapons include, but are not limited to:

(1) Weapons enumerated in D.C. Official Code § 22-4514 (2001);

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