Puerto Rico School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Authority to Develop and Establish Codes of Conduct

Discipline Compendium

Puerto Rico School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Authority to Develop and Establish Codes of Conduct

Category: Codes of Conduct
Subcategory: Authority to Develop and Establish Codes of Conduct
State: Puerto Rico

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18 L.P.R.A. § 8. Statement of purpose.

Article II, Section 5, of the Constitution of Puerto Rico guarantees that "[e]very person has the right to an education which shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms."

The Legislature is duty bound to respond with legislation that guarantees the rights and establishes the responsibilities of the components of the school community in order to reduce the problem of violence in the schools. This bill shall create the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities of the School Community for Security in the Schools and sets forth the rights and duties of the school community members in order to maintain a climate of peace in the schools.

This Bill of Rights and Responsibilities integrates the external and surrounding community to the schools, as well as the Commonwealth and municipal government dependencies and the private sector, in seeking to institute various efforts directed toward the reduction of acts of violence within the schools.

18 L.P.R.A. § 13. Department of Education.

(a) To establish and promulgate the General Regulations for the Students of the Puerto Rico Public Education System and the Internal Security Regulations and give notice thereof by means of a copy and orientations to the parents and students of the public education system. Said regulations shall be adopted pursuant to §§ 2101 et seq. of Title 3, known as the "Uniform Administrative Procedures Act of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico", and shall be filed immediately after approval thereof.

(b) The administrative authorities, as well as the teaching and non-teaching personnel, shall have the duty to ensure compliance with the General Regulations for the Student of the Puerto Rico Public Education System and the Internal Security Regulations, especially provisions related to the codes of conduct and behavior.

(c) To establish and promulgate the Crisis Management Strategic Plan for violent incidents in schools to give notice and copy there of to the parents, tutors and students of the Public Education System.

(d) To provide administrative support to achieve compliance with the school security plans established by the student councils. Said school security plans shall include initiatives directed toward:

(1) Identifying the security needs of the schools.

(2) Providing clean physical facilities in a safe environment.

(3) Implementing training programs for the teachers, non-teaching personnel and student groups in the areas of violence prevention and conflict management.

(e) To redesign those physical facilities whose conditions may influence the development of delinquent or violent activities. The schools should be designed in such a manner so as to prevent the free access of unauthorized persons into the schools and to promote that the school authorities be able to visually supervise student activities in all areas.

(f) The Department of Education shall establish guidelines for the school directors to prepare a report on violent and non-violent incidents within the school premises. Using a standard format, the Director shall gather the information and analyze the data. Subsequently, the Director shall prepare a quarterly report of these findings and submit the same to the School Life Quality Program.

(g) School authorities shall be responsible for coordinating with the Puerto Rico Police the installation of security devices such as video cameras and alarm systems in schools that are declared unsafe by the Department of Education.

(h) The Department of Education shall be responsible for the training of the teaching and administrative personnel on how to manage students with discipline and violence problems. This training shall be based upon conflict management and the early identification of violent situations. The Department of Education is responsible for keeping all its personnel duly informed about the rules for security and violence prevention, so they may know which steps to take in a crisis situation.

(i) The Department of Education shall promote the development of rapid response plans for crisis situations. Among these are plans for evacuation in case of fire, earthquakes, gas leaks and bomb or terrorist threats. Each component of the school system shall clearly understand its role in the crisis plan. The plan shall include a strategy for communicating with security agencies such as the Puerto Rico Police, the Firefighters Corps, Medical Emergencies [Corps.] and the Commonwealth Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Agency. Moreover, a plan shall be established for communicating with the parents and the communications media in case of emergency.

(j) The Department of Education shall ensure compliance with the prevention and orientation programs directed toward the reduction of violent incidents and conflict management in the schools. These training programs shall emphasize problem solving, social interaction, peer pressure management, understanding of values and conflict management skills.

(k) The Department of Education shall use alternative educational environments for those students who have faced school violence problems so as to guarantee a safe school community.

18 L.P.R.A. § 17. Elected officers and government agencies.

(a) Elected officers are responsible for promoting legislation directed toward the reduction of school violence and the development of safe schools, provided that the resources of the Commonwealth so allow.

(b) Police officers and School Guards I and II shall be responsible for institutional order within one hundred (100) meters surrounding the school premises and in school sponsored activities, in accordance with the regulations established to such effects. It is necessary that these officers develop positive relationships with the components of the school community and exert maximum efforts to achieve a suitable environment for the development of the habit of responsibility and cooperation, and of sound school discipline.

(c) To give conferences and hold assemblies directed toward discussing topics such as school violence prevention, prevention of drug use in the schools, conflict management in the school environment, etc.

(d) Government agencies shall support and actively participate in school activities in order to promote a safe and wholesome environment.

(e) To support research projects directed toward the study of the school violence problem. The information from these research projects may serve as the foundation upon which to generate legislation or initiatives that reduce violence in our schools.

(f) To provide the necessary funds for the implementation of security initiatives in the schools, such as the installation of security devices, programs for monitoring the statistics of criminal and violent incidents in the schools, etc.

(g) To establish interagency collaborative agreements with federal agencies, municipalities and the private sector in order to promote school security.

18 L.P.R.A. § 141k. Rules and regulations.

The Secretary is hereby empowered to adopt the necessary rules and regulations for the implementation of this chapter, including the requirements that must be met by School Security Corps candidates. These rules and regulations shall include the requirement of undergoing Police Academy training for a period of not less than three (3) months, which shall be a part of the trial period of candidates. Such regulations shall conform to the provisions of present §§ 2101 et seq. of Title 3, known as the "Uniform Administrative Procedures Act of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico".

3 L.P.R.A. § 9802i. Duties and responsibilities of the School Principal.

In addition to the duties and responsibilities established by regulations, the School Principal shall:

(o) Implement disciplinary measures for students in accordance with the public policy, directives, standards, rules, and regulations promulgated by the Secretary.

3 L.P.R.A. § 9809b. Disciplinary measures and sanctions.

(a) The disciplinary measures taken by the school's administrative personnel must be directed at improving student behavior, thereby creating a school environment that is safe and optimal for learning and improving a student's academic performance. The disciplinary process shall be preventive, progressive, just, and reasonable for rehabilitation and re-education purposes, while upholding the rights of the school community in general. For such purposes, if a student undergoes a disciplinary process or an evaluation by a psychologist or a counselor, said process shall be completed within fifteen (15) days from the commencement thereof.

(b) The strategies used to address disciplinary issues or toxic conduct must be directed at repairing the damage done and restoring the respect and peaceful coexistence that must prevail in the school community and, specifically, to reintegrate students into the school community.

(c) Teachers shall be responsible for the school's discipline, both inside and outside of the classrooms, thereby ensuring that students satisfy this requirement. They shall refer disciplinary issues to the School Principal after having exhausted all resources available to them, such as, but not limited to: restorative measures, mediation, interviews, and meetings with the student, his guardian, or the interdisciplinary team, or referring the student to the homeroom teacher, the school's social worker, or a professional counselor, among others.

(d) Before imposing any sanction or taking any disciplinary action, all intervention and counseling resources available to students, parents, custodians, or guardians must be exhausted. These measures must be documented and filed in the student's record. Moreover, the student subject to the disciplinary measures and the affected party shall always be afforded an opportunity to express themselves and be heard in an orderly, timely, and respectful manner.

(e) An out-of-school suspension is an exclusionary discipline practice that should only be implemented under special circumstances and only when the well- being of the students or the school's community is at risk. Under any other circumstances, school principals shall implement practices that are not exclusionary, such as mediation and restorative practices, among others.

(f) The Secretary shall promulgate school discipline regulations in order to ensure that the works of the Public Education System remain uninterrupted, and each Regional Office of Education shall implement the disciplinary practices that are best suited to the particular needs of their students, pursuant to the aforementioned regulations. Such regulations shall be consistent with the applicable laws in our jurisdiction related to minors.

(g) Each Regional Office of Education shall submit a copy of the proposed code of conduct to the personnel of the central offices of the Department, before June 1st of each year, for the review and authorization thereof. The codes of conduct shall not be valid or effective insofar as the aforementioned process has been carried out and the approval thereof has been notified in writing to the Regional Office of Education.

(h) No student shall be prevented from exercising his right to an education. No corrective measures that harm a student's physical integrity or violates his dignity may be imposed.

(i) The disciplinary measures imposed shall be proportional to the offense and must contribute to improving the student's conduct.

(j) The student's personal, family, and social circumstances shall be taken into consideration before choosing the appropriate disciplinary measure.


Regulation Num. 8115. Article IX, B. School security.

1. A committee will be appointed to support the Central level, a Council Support in school districts, and a School Safety Committee in schools, as stated in the Manual for School Safety Support.

2. The primary mission of these committees will be to implement an effective prevention plan to promote a safe environment conducive to learning. If requested by the school community the committees will offer seminars, workshops and other activities related to the prevention and processes, and laws that are carried out for decisions of disciplinary cases.

3. The school principal is responsible for recommending a School Safety Committee composed of school staff that supports students, one (1) student guardian, volunteer teachers with a maximum of three (3), security personnel, and one (1) student. This committee will work with the School Board.

4. The School Safety Committee will be chaired by the Principal, who will call a meeting when necessary.

5. The School Safety Committee will assist in prevention efforts and order, pursuant to the provisions for the purpose established by the Department of Education.

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