Northern Mariana Islands School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Due Process

Discipline Compendium

Northern Mariana Islands School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Due Process

Category: Exclusionary Discipline: Suspension, Expulsion, and Alternative Placement
Subcategory: Due Process
State: Northern Mariana Islands

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LAWS

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REGULATIONS

§ 60-20-448. Suspension.

(e) When a student is suspended, the principal/designee shall attempt to reach the student's parent/guardian to inform them of the school's action and to request that they come to school for the student. If the parent/guardian is unable to come for the student, the principal/designee may ask the parent/guardian for permission to send the student home. If the parent/guardian cannot be reached or if the above request is refused, the student must remain on school property until the close of the school day.

(f) The student's parent or guardian shall also be notified, in writing, on the day the

suspension decision is made of the reason(s) for the suspension and the right of the student or parent or guardian to appeal the suspension to the Commissioner of Education within ten calendar days of the notification. Copies of all notifications shall be sent to the Commissioner of Education and the PSS legal counsel.

(g) The appeal procedures for suspensions of less than ten days are described in section (h) of this section (below). The appeal procedures for suspensions of ten days or more are described in § 60-20-452.

(h) If the parent and/or student wishes to appeal a suspension of ten days or less, the Commissioner of Education or a designee who shall be someone other than a principal, administrator or teacher in the suspended student's school, shall meet with the student and/or the parent or guardian to discuss the suspension. If the Commissioner of Education or designee finds that the student was suspended unfairly or unjustly, or that the suspension was inappropriate given the nature of the alleged offense, or that the student suffered undue consequences or penalties, the suspension may be overturned and any reference to the suspension in school records will be expunged. Such findings shall be made in writing within ten school days of the conference.

§ 60-20-450. Expulsion.

(a) Expulsion is permanent exclusion from public school attendance, school activities and school property. Expulsion shall be used only in severe cases, or where other means of corrective disciplinary action have failed, or where no other reasonable alternatives are available. An expulsion may be recommended if the student persistently engages in conduct that warrants suspension, or if the student by means of a single action evidences behavior that is serious enough to warrant removal to protect the rights or safety of others.

(b) Only the Commissioner of Education may expel a student. The principal recommending expulsion shall prepare written documentation in justification of such action.

(c) The Commissioner of Education reserves the right to exclude students for other than disciplinary reasons if the expulsion is deemed in the best interest of the student or the operation of the school (i.e. student with a contagious health problem).

(d) In the event of criminal conduct or other serious action committed by a student, the Commissioner of Education may expel the student immediately and for an unlimited period with a hearing to be held in accordance with § 60-20-452.

(e) Prior to any expulsion ordered by the Commissioner of Education, the student shall be advised by the principal or his designee of the specific conduct resulting in the action, the student shall be given the opportunity to explain his or her version of the facts surrounding the alleged misconduct and the student shall be advised of the applicable hearing procedures.

§ 60-20-452. Hearing procedures.

(a) A due process hearing will be held if requested by the student parent/guardian for suspensions of more than ten days and expulsions. The hearing will be closed unless the student, parent/guardian or others having custodial care requests an open hearing.

(b) Upon a determination by the principal or the Commissioner of Education that a suspension of more than ten days or an expulsion is necessary, the student and his/her parents or guardians must be sent on the same day the suspension or expulsion recommendation is made, a copy of PSS's student disciplinary policy and written notice of the following:

(1) The Public School System's intent to suspend the student for more than ten days or to expel the student;

(2) The charges that necessitate the suspension or expulsion;

(3) That a full and fair hearing will be held before an impartial adjudicator if requested, in writing, within ten days of notification; and

(4) Failure to request a hearing, in writing, within ten school days after being notified of the Public School System's intention to suspend or expel the student shall constitute a waiver of the right to a hearing.

(c) In the event that a hearing is requested, the student may not be suspended for more than ten consecutive school days before the hearing is held and written notice of the following will be sent to the parents or guardian of the student:

(1) The place, date and time of the proposed hearing (allowing sufficient time for a defense to be prepared);

(2) The student's right to legal counsel at his/her own expense;

(3) That the student will be given the opportunity to present evidence at the hearing including the testimony of witnesses;

(4) That the student will be given the opportunity to cross-examine opposing witnesses at the hearing; and

(5) The availability of a written record of the hearing. This section shall not be construed to prohibit the use of a recording device to record the hearing.

(d) Within ten school days, if practicable, after a hearing is requested in writing, the hearing shall be held. The hearing shall be an informal proceeding where relaxed evidence rules will apply.

(e) The Commissioner of Education or his/her designee shall preside and ensure that all of the aforementioned rights are afforded the student.

(f) If, based on the evidence presented at the hearing, the Commissioner of Education or his/her designee finds that the student has committed an act which warrants disciplinary action, he or she may order any appropriate disciplinary action, including, but not limited to, suspension or expulsion.

(g) When determining whether the disciplinary action and/or the length of

suspension/expulsion is appropriate, the Commissioner of Education or his/her designee may consider the severity of the offense, prior disciplinary actions taken against the student by the Public School System and any other prior bad acts of the student.

(h) Within ten school days after the conclusion of the hearing, the Commissioner of

Education or his/her designee shall inform the student, parent or guardian of his/her decision. The decision must be in the form of a final, written opinion regarding whether or not any disciplinary action, such as expulsion or suspension, is warranted.

§ 60-20-454. Appeal to the Board of Education.

(a) The student and/or his or her parent or guardian shall have the right to appeal to the Commissioner of Education's or his/her designee's decision regarding a suspension of more than ten days or an expulsion to the Board of Education.

(b) The Board of Education must be notified, in writing, of the student's and/or parent or guardian's desire to appeal within ten school days from the date the student, parent or guardian was informed of the disciplinary decision.

(c) Once a disciplinary decision is appealed, the Board shall meet to review the decision within thirty calendar days of when the written notice of the appeal is received by the Board.

(d) The disciplinary decision of the Commissioner of Education or his/her designee shall remain in effect until the Board issues its own decision.

(e) The Board's decision on appeal shall be based solely on the record developed at the expulsion or suspension hearing and the Commissioner of Education or designee's written opinion. The Board shall review the suspension or expulsion solely on the record of the hearing and decision of the Commissioner of Education or his/her designee. The Board shall receive no new evidence.

(f) At the hearing the sole issue for the Board to determine is whether the Commissioner of Education's or his/her designee's decision to suspend or expel the student constitutes an abuse of authority. The Board of Education shall render its decision by a majority vote of those members in attendance.

(g) The Board does not have the authority to modify the Commissioner of Education's or his/her designee's expulsion decision. In such cases, the Board may either uphold the Commissioner of Education's decision, overturn it completely, or overturn it and order that a new hearing be conducted in compliance with their order.

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