December 28, 2000
SCHOOL SUSPENSION IN OTHER STATES
By: Jennifer Gelb, Research Attorney
You wanted to know about other states' laws regarding school suspension and alternative education programs. You also wanted literature on suspension and the alternative programs.
Most states have statutes addressing school suspension. Many southern states focus on in-school suspension and alternative education programs. North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee require local boards of education to establish alternative education programs. A Florida school district created an entire document explaining in-school suspension and giving examples of model programs. Louisiana requires public schools to implement in-school suspension and created an in-school suspension pilot project. Kentucky sets out strict procedures for suspension and expulsion, including an opportunity for hearing and additional standards for the suspension of students with disabilities. Tennessee uses different standards for issuing in-school and out-of-school suspensions.
ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROGRAMS
North Carolina requires each local board of education to establish at least one alternative learning program and to adopt guidelines for assigning students to it. The guidelines must include a description of the services to be provided, a process for ensuring that student assignments to programs are appropriate and involve the student's parents, and strategies for providing suitable alternative learning programs for students subject to long-term suspension or expulsion. The local boards must monitor the alternative education programs to ensure that they incorporate the best practices for improving student academic performance and reducing disruptive behavior. In addition, the programs must be staffed with qualified public school professionals and provide students with rigorous, high quality academic instruction (N.C.G.S. § 115C-47(32a)).
Georgia also prefers to reassign disruptive students to alternative education programs rather than suspending or expelling them from school. Its alternative education programs are intended to meet the educational needs of students who are (1) suspended from their regular classrooms or (2) eligible to remain in their regular classrooms but are more likely to succeed in a nontraditional academic setting. Georgia law requires each local school system to establish an alternative education program that is provided in a setting other than a student's regular classroom. It can be located on or off of a regular school campus and may include in-school suspension that allows for continued progress on regular classroom assignments. Academically, the mission of Georgia's alternative education programs is to enable students to perform at grade level (G.C. § 20-2-154.1).
Tennessee's school boards may establish alternative schools for students in grades one through six, and must establish at least one alternative school for students in grades seven through 12, who have been suspended or expelled from the regular school program (T.C.A. § 49-6-3402). Instruction at these schools must proceed as nearly as possible in accordance with the instructional programs at a student's home school. The State Board of Education must provide a curriculum for alternative schools to ensure students receive specialized attention needed to effectively prevent them from being repeat offenders. The board was also to establish a pilot alternative school program for elementary and secondary school students by January 1, 1997.
All course work completed and credits earned in the alternative schools are transferred to and recorded in the student's home school as if earned in the home school. But no student may graduate based solely on attendance at alternative schools. Students attending an alternative school continue to earn state education funds in their home school districts and are counted for all school purposes as if still in attendance there.
Florida's Leon County schools have developed a document detailing in-school suspension and suggestions for its implementation. It describes in-school suspension as “an in-house program to which a student may be assigned for a short period of time in lieu of out-of-school suspension.” It claims that in-school suspension overcomes the major shortcomings of traditional suspension because it does not deprive students of an educational experience. The county asserts that in-school suspension can help reduce the daytime juvenile crime rate, which it says has been highly correlated with out-of-school suspensions. It gives examples of in-school suspension models to assist other districts in developing their own programs. The document is attached to this report.
Louisiana defines in-school suspension as removing a pupil from his normal classroom setting but maintaining him under supervision within the school (L.R.S. § 416A(2(a))). A pupil participating in in-school suspension may receive credit for work performed during the in-school suspension, but any pupil who fails to comply fully with the rules for in-school suspension is subject to immediate out-of-school suspension. The state required each city and parish school board to adopt rules for implementing in-school suspension by January 1, 1995. Louisiana had already debuted its in-school suspension pilot project in the 1985-1986 school year (L.R.S. § 223.1).
Louisiana law allows a school principal to suspend from school or suspend from riding on any school bus any pupil who is guilty of willful disobedience, treats a school professional with intentional disrespect or makes an unfounded charge against him, uses “unchaste or profane language,” or is guilty of immoral or vicious practices. In addition, a student may be suspended for using tobacco or possessing drugs or alcohol on school property or buses, disturbing the school, vandalizing school property, possessing a weapon, violating traffic or safety regulations, being habitually tardy or absent, or committing any other serious offense (L.R.S. § 416A(3)(i, et seq.))).
Tennessee uses different standards for imposing in-school and out-of-school suspensions. Sufficient reasons for out-of-school suspension include willful and persistent violation of school rules or truancy, immoral or disreputable conduct or profane language; violence or threatened violence against school staff; vandalism; possession of firearms, knives, or drugs on school property; and assaulting school professionals with vulgar, obscene, or threatening language (T.C.A. § 49-6-3401).
Students can receive in-school suspension for behavior which adversely affects the safety and well-being of other pupils; behavior which disrupts a class or school-sponsored activity; and disorderly conduct or lack of discipline in a class, school-sponsored activity, or on the school campus. Tennessee students given an in-school suspension in excess of one day must either go to special classes solely for students guilty of misconduct or be placed in an isolated area appropriate for study. They must complete academic requirements. They are counted as part of the public school attendance in the same way as students who attend regular classes.
Kentucky is one of many states to impose strict due process procedures for suspending students. It requires a pupil to receive oral or written notice of the charges against him, which constitute the cause for his suspension. The pupil must also receive an explanation of the evidence of the charges if the pupil denies them, and must have an opportunity to present his own version of the facts relating to the charges (K.R.S. § 158.150).
These procedures must precede any suspension from the public schools, unless immediate suspension is essential. In such cases, the due process procedures must follow the suspension as soon as possible, but no later than three school days after the suspension. The superintendent, principal, assistant principal, or head teacher may suspend a pupil, but must immediately report the action in writing to the superintendent and the pupil's parent or guardian. Suspension of so-called “exceptional,” or disabled, children for more than 10 days during a school year is considered a change of placement and must be reviewed by an admissions and release committee.