Puerto Rico School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Formal Incident Reporting of Conduct Violations

Discipline Compendium

Puerto Rico School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Formal Incident Reporting of Conduct Violations

Category: Monitoring and Accountability
Subcategory: Formal Incident Reporting of Conduct Violations
State: Puerto Rico

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LAWS

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. § 14. Students.

(a) General Regulations for the Students of the Puerto Rico Public Education System.- Students shall try to resolve problems in non-violent ways and through dialogue. Maintain respect for their fellow students, their teachers and the school authorities.

(b) Students shall report any violent act, crime, vandalism and threat of which they become aware to the school director, a teacher or to a parent or guardian.

(c) Students shall actively participate in the crime prevention programs of their school.

(d) Students shall cooperate with the school administration in the identification of places that are conducive to delinquent behavior within the school.

(e) Students shall learn how to avoid becoming victims of a crime within the school. In order to achieve this, they shall stay away from dangerous places with poor lighting and visibility.

(f) Students shall seek help from any member of the school community when they face a situation that may turn out to be dangerous to their physical integrity or safety.

18 L.P.R.A. § 3961e. Protocol to manage cases.

The Department of Education shall design a protocol to manage harassment and/or bullying cases internally which shall be used in public schools.

Every public, private, and higher education institution shall develop and implement an Institutional Protocol for the Management of School Harassment that includes the following factors:

(a) Objective;

(b) Justification;

(c) Definition and Description of bullying and cyberbullying;

(d) Institutional Expectations and Policy;

(e) Responsibilities of the members of the education community in what pertains to bullying in schools;

(f) Prevention Strategies;

(g) Protocol disclosure procedure;

(h) Case documentation, confidentiality, and records management procedures;

(i) Case reporting procedures;

(j) Strategies to investigate reported cases;

(k) Intervention strategies and penalties;

(l) Follow-up strategies; and

(m) Guidelines for referrals to healthcare professionals.

REGULATIONS

Regulation Num. 8115. Article IX, C. Institutional order.

2. Any member of the School Community shall inform the Director of any student or school-related persons’ behavior that involves a possible violation of law, rules, school rules or guidelines, either by personal knowledge of the facts or information obtained. This applies to behavior occurring on school campus, one hundred (100) feet around, school-sponsored activities, in any branch of the Department of Education, and on school transportation.

3. The teacher will be responsible for institutional climate and fostering good student discipline. They will refer discipline issues to the Director of School Discipline, with all the evidence of interventions implemented, after it has exhausted all available resources such as, but not limited to: interviews with the student, with the guardian, with the interdisciplinary team or have referred the student to the classroom teacher, School Social Worker or School Counselor. After having evaluated the disciplinary situation, the Principal will determine those cases which it considers require immediate intervention or the Safety Committee.

Regulation Num. 8115. Article IX, F. Rules and procedures for filing complaints and implementation of corrective actions.

1) Concepts:

a. Complaints are any claim alleging that a student of the Public Education System has violated the rules and/or duties that are imposed by the laws, regulations of the Public Education Department of Puerto Rico.

b. Anyone with knowledge of a student’s violation has standing to file a complaint.

c. Complaints to be addressed through the procedure provided for in this Article shall be classified in informal and formal complaints. Informal complaints will be handled in school by the Principal. Grievances will be settled through an evidentiary hearing, chaired by an Examiner appointed by the Secretary, the process is carried out in the Legal Division of the Department of Education.

d. Disciplinary procedures applicable to special education students shall be governed by the provisions of the Manual of Procedures for Special Education.

e. You can only discipline a student belonging to the Special Education Program through the procedure provided for in this Regulation, if the Committee of Planning and Placement Team (PPT) has determined, pursuant to the process set forth in the Procedures Manual for Special Education that the student's conduct is not related to their condition.

f. To discontinue the complaint process the parties concerned must show that they have no interest in the process.

Regulation Num. 8502. Article IV. Procedure.

1. Teachers will follow the guidelines provided in Circular Letter 16-2013-2014, or the current circular letter, that establishes the procedure to be followed in implementing school retention norms of the Department of Education.

2. The school principal shall require teachers to keep a daily record of the students enrolled in the course and supervise the maintenance of this daily record of student attendance.

3. Next, the actions to follow according to the pattern of unjustified absences by the student.

A. 2 to 4 days

Responsible Person: Teacher

1. Notify the school principal and support staff on the student's unjustified absences.

2. Will carry out an investigation in which the teacher will consult with the team of teachers to check if the student’s behavior is repetitive in other classes and, if deemed appropriate, will interview collaterals.

3. Contact you the parent, guardian, or custodian of the student through various means, such as phone calls, text messages, email, or written notice, among others, to inform of the unjustified absences and discuss the causes, if any, of them.

4. Will meet and discuss with the student alternatives to avoid incurring unjustified absences.

B. 5 to 9 days

Responsible Person: Teacher–Social Worker–School Counselor

1. The teacher will notify the unjustified absences in writing to the school principal and support staff.

2. The support staff will conduct an investigation in which he or she shall consult the team of teachers to see if the behavior is repetitive in their other classes and, if deemed appropriate, interview collaterals.

3. The support staff will contact the parent, guardian, or custodian of the student through various means, such as phone calls, text messages, email or written notice, among others, to coordinate an orientation meeting.

4. If necessary, the support staff will visit the student's home and report the findings to the school principal and the teacher that refers the situation.

5. The support staff will discuss with the parent, custodian, or guardian and the student the causes that have incurred in this pattern of absences, the alternatives to suspend this pattern of absences and ensure school attendance.

6. As a result of the discussion, support staff, parents, custodian, or guardian and the student will prepare a plan of action to prevent the child’s unjustified absences to school. The Intervention Plan Agreement will be signed by the support staff, the parents, guardian or custodian, and the student. Document C, Intervention Plan Agreement, located at the end of this Regulation shall be used for this agreement between the parties.

7. In addition, the support staff will ensure to orient the parent, guardian or custodian of the student on the administrative and legal consequences that may occur in the case of non-compliance with the Intervention Plan Agreement.

8. Similarly, the support staff will provide parents, guardians, or custodians a copy of Section 1.03 of the Law 149-1999, as amended, which provides that school attendance is compulsory and the corresponding actions regarding non-compliance with that Article.

9. Also, the support staff will ensure guidance to parents, guardians and custodians about Article IV subsection (c) and (d) of Regulation 8115 of December 8, 2011, known as General Student Regulations for the System of Education of Puerto Rico, and the public policy regarding the active integration of parents and guardians in the educational process in the schools of the Department of Education.

C. 10 days or more of incurring unjustified absences or cutting class

Responsible Person: Teacher–Social Worker–School Counselor–School Director

1. The teacher will inform in writing to the school principal and support staff on the pattern of unjustified absences by the student.

2. The support staff or the school principal will contact the parent, guardian or custodian of the student through various means, such as phone calls, text messages, email or written notice, among others, to inform the pattern absences and arrange a meeting if necessary.

3. The support staff or the school principal will refer, if necessary, the case to the Program of Interdisciplinary Services for School Coexistence (SICE) of educational region to which it belongs. This action will be taken once all the institutional remedies have been exhausted.

4. The school principal shall report in writing and refer to the corresponding social welfare agencies and the Prosecutor of the Department of Justice those parents, guardians, and custodians who fail to comply with the Intervention Plan Agreement. This process will be done in accordance with the table entitled "Notification of the Agencies."

5. The school principal shall inform the Juvenile Court when students participate in any judicial program (as diversion or dispositive).

4. In the case that the school doesn’t have support staff assigned, in line with the steps set out in the table above and according to the number of absences by the student, the school principal shall be responsible for performing all procedures delegated to the support staff.

5. The teacher will be responsible for registering in the Student lnformation System (SIE) the student has accumulated ten (10) or more unjustified absences or cuts of classes during the school year.

6. In addition, the school principal will register in the SIE relevant information regarding the referral done to the SICE, the social welfare agencies, or the Department of Justice.

7. The school principal will generate a report at the end of each school year about students who incurred in a pattern of unjustified absences and about the cases that were referred to the social welfare agencies and the Department of Justice. This report shall be sent to the Assistant Secretary of Student Support Services.

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