Parents: Discipline Policy

This information is from the 2004-2005 Boston Public Schools Policy Handbook.

Students need a safe and orderly environment in which to learn. To ensure this, all of our schools follow the Boston Public Schools Code of Discipline. At each school, teachers and parents also develop and follow School-Based Rules.

The Code lists offenses for which a student may be suspended and/or expelled from school. For example, a student may be expelled for possession of a dangerous weapon, possession of a controlled substance, or assault on school staff. Expulsion is a serious matter, and it is important that students, especially older students, understand that their actions may have severe consequences.

School-Based Rules
Each school has its own rules, known as "School-Based Rules," that its students are expected to follow. In one middle school, for example, students may be asked to file quietly and in line to their next class; in another middle school, students might be allowed to walk to class in small groups.

If a student breaks one of the School-Based Rules, he or she may be disciplined. The principal might ask the student to sign a contract to change his or her behavior, or keep the student after school for detention.

School-Based Rules are written by a committee of administrators, teachers, and parents at each school and are reviewed each spring by the School Site Council. In middle and high schools, students are also on the committee. School-Based Rules should be posted in every classroom and sent home with students every September.

The Code of Discipline
In addition to following its own School-Based Rules, every school must also follow the Boston Public Schools Code of Discipline. The Code lists rules that all students are expected to follow: No student may bring a weapon to school, for instance, or sell drugs. A student who breaks the rules in the Code of Discipline may be suspended or even expelled.

Both School-Based Rules and the Code of Discipline apply to the behavior of students while they are in school, at school-sponsored activities, and on their way to and from school (on the school bus, at the bus stop, on the MBTA, etc.).

Denial of Transportation
If a student endangers his or her own safety or the safety of others while on a school bus or van, the principal or headmaster may deny school-provided transportation to the student.

Transportation may be denied for up to three days without a hearing. Denial of transportation for four or more consecutive days, or more than six days in a marking period, requires a hearing. In all cases, the principal or headmaster must inform the parent before keeping the student off the bus. The student is expected to come to school on the days when he or she is not allowed on the bus unless the student has also been suspended from school.

Suspension is not being allowed to attend school for a limited number of school days. For a student 15 years old or younger, the suspension can be up to six consecutive school days. For a student 16 years old or older, the suspension can be up to ten consecutive school days.

The Suspension Process
Before a principal or headmaster can suspend a student, he or she must hold a hearing at the school and invite the student and the student's parent/guardian. At the hearing, the principal or headmaster hears the evidence and decides whether the student should be suspended. If the student and the parent/guardian disagree with the suspension, they may appeal the decision to the Superintendent's Hearing Officer within ten school days.

In some instances, a student may be suspended before a hearing. This emergency suspension can be imposed only when a student is disruptive after a serious incident and only for the rest of that school day. Before an emergency suspension, the principal or headmaster must try to notify the parent. A hearing must be held at a later date.

Expulsion is not being allowed to attend school for a minimum of eleven school days and a maximum of one full calendar year. The principal or headmaster may recommend that a student be expelled from school only in the most serious cases.

The Expulsion Process, Step by Step
In some cases, when a student commits an expellable offense, the principal or headmaster may order an emergency suspension for safety reasons.

Next, in most cases, the principal/headmaster or another administrator holds a suspension hearing and suspends the student. The purpose of the suspension is to remove the student from school while the principal/headmaster prepares for the possible expulsion hearing. Therefore, a suspension hearing does not need to take place if the student is already out of school for legal or medical reasons.

During the suspension, the principal/headmaster begins procedures to hold a formal expulsion hearing. He or she also schedules the student for assignment to the BPS Counseling and Intervention Center. The parent must receive notice of the expulsion hearing in writing, in the language of the home. If the parent is not able to attend, he or she may request one postponement.

At the expulsion hearing, the principal or headmaster listens to witnesses and examines the evidence. The student or parent/guardian may bring an advocate or lawyer to the hearing. If needed, the school will provide an interpreter for parents who have limited English-speaking skills. The school must make an audio tape of the hearing, and make the tape available to the parent or student upon request.

Following the hearing, the principal or headmaster sends the written recommendation to the Triad Office for review of due process. If the principal/headmaster decides to expel a student, the student and parent/guardian must be notified in writing. In most cases, a School Safety staff person will deliver the notice to the student's home.

Appealing an Expulsion
If the student and the parent/guardian disagree with the expulsion, they may appeal the decision to the Superintendent, or someone named by the Superintendent, within ten school days. They may also ask the Superintendent to review the case after ninety school days.

After the Expulsion Period
When a student's period of expulsion has ended, the student must go to one of the Family Resource Centers and re-enroll in the Boston Public Schools. The student will not be reassigned to the school from which he or she was expelled unless the principal or headmaster has recommended this at the time of the expulsion.

Disciplinary Transfers
The principal may recommend assigning a disruptive elementary school student to another school.

Disruptive middle school and high school students may be assigned only to alternative programs for disruptive students. This assignment will be until the end of the school year. Then, the principal or headmaster, parent, and director of the alternative program will decide if the student will (1) return to the sending school, (2) transfer to another school, or (3) stay in the alternative program.

For more information, please visit the BPS web site.