Code of Discipline
The violations of the Code of Discipline enumerated below describe the school-related disciplinary offenses for which a student may be subject to suspension, long term suspension or expulsion. Note that the school has the authority to impose such discipline when violations of the Code of Discipline occur:
- while the student is on school grounds (with the exception of discipline based upon a felony charge pursuant to M.G.L. c 71 § 37H1/2 – (see below);
- during a school sponsored activity;
- while on school-provided transportation en route to or from a school or school-sponsored activity (field trip); or,
- while walking to and from school or waiting for or riding on public transportation to and from school.
Chapter 222 – Student Discipline
In accordance with student discipline laws and regulations, effective July 1, 2014, enacted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts pursuant to Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012 (An Act Relative to Student Access to Educational Services and Exclusion from School), the Falmouth Public School District has modified its student discipline procedures and guidelines so as to be in compliance with Chapter 222, M.G.L. c. 71, §§ 37H, 37H1⁄2 and 37H3⁄4, M.G.L. c. 76, §§ 1, 1B, 18, and 21, and 603 CMR 53.00 (adopted by the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on April 29, 2014). Please refer to Appendix A for details.
All Falmouth High School students are expected to represent the highest ideals of citizenship, academic performance, and sportsmanship. Any behavior that reflects negatively on the school, the student’s club, team, school-sponsored activity, or their community, may result in suspension or removal from participation in school-sponsored events. Such behaviors may jeopardize the student’s ability to participate in the graduation ceremony.
We welcome all visiting teams as our guests. We will accept all decisions of the officials. We do not utter abusive or irritating remarks or attempt to distract an opposing player. We applaud opponents who make good plays or show good sportsmanship. We strive to win fairly without excuses. We ask that all players and fans help us live up to this code. Students participating in athletics will be expected to:
- Exhibit respect for himself/herself, their family, school teachers, community, opponents, and all persons connected with the activity.
- Display upright conduct and the spirit of fair play at all times.
- Develop self-control, self-direction, and sound judgment.
- Refrain from and discourage abusive language and actions at all times.
- Win with glory, and if necessary, lose without bitterness.
- Play hard to win, but with respect for the rules of the game.
- Convince others by example that athletics really promote the physical, mental, social and moral welfare of all concerned.
Students must use reasonable caution and common sense when passing from class to class. Running is not allowed in the building, since it could cause injury in the event of a collision with another student. In addition, students should:
- Use the most direct route in order to avoid being late to class.
- Keep corridors open to traffic by walking to the right. Do not block traffic by standing in groups.
- Pass through corridors quietly. Be considerate of others in the halls and classrooms.
- Discard trash in the containers provided. Keep the school clean by picking up paper from the floors.
- Leave the school building within 15 minutes after dismissal unless under the supervision of a teacher.
- Immature behavior such as yelling, hooting, and whistling is not conducive to a sound learning environment and is not allowed.
Display of Affection
While the teaching of socialization skills is one of the objectives of our high school, students should also recognize that their behavior reflects upon themselves and their family. Students are required to conduct themselves properly. Public displays of affection constitute improper behavior for the teaching/learning environment and general school atmosphere, and will therefore not be tolerated.
Minor infractions of the Code of Discipline are usually addressed initially with detention(s). Some examples are:
- Class cut
- Class disturbance
- Electronic devices used during school/class time
- Failure to report to teacher and/or Assistant Principal
- Failure to sign into school
- Forged note or phone call
- Illegal parking
- Inappropriate or distracting clothing and/or footwear
- Taking food out of the cafeteria, or bringing in hot/cold drinks other than water
- Tardiness to class
- Teacher/Office Detention is from 2:10 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- Administrative Detention is from 2:10 p.m. – 4:10 p.m.
- Late bus departs at 4:15 p.m.
Teacher Detention/Office Detention
When a teacher assigns a teacher detention, students are required to stay with the teacher until 3:30 p.m. The teacher will assign the date of the detention. The teacher will call the parent/guardian to notify them if the student fails to attend the teacher detention. The teacher will need to seek the assistance of guidance and/or the assistant principal if they are having difficulty in communicating with the parent/guardian. The teacher will then write a referral to the administration indicating that the student has cut their detention. The administrator will discuss the issue with the student and if no legitimate reason is given, the student will receive an administrative detention on the next available Wednesday or Thursday from 2:10 p.m. to 4:10 p.m. If the student fails to attend this detention, they will be assigned to In-School Suspension.
- Class cut - Teacher will assign teacher detention and call home.
- Student use of cell phone or other prohibited electronic devices in classroom - detention, teacher has the right to take student’s phone and return phone end of the day.
- Disruptive classroom behavior.
- Leaving class without permission.
- Minor insubordination.
- Misuse of pass.
- 3 tardies to class yields a teacher detention for that class; whereas, 4 tardies to school will result in an office detention.
- Truancy results in an administrative detention for each class missed, or suspension.
Detention begins 7 minutes after dismissal. There is no entrance after this time without authorization from the Assistant Principal. Students entering detention late without authorization may be suspended. All school rules apply, which include no cards, no games, no tobacco. Students are allowed to use electronic devices for educational purposes only during detention. All students must be seated at individual tables (if possible) and may not go to lockers during the detentions. Students are expected to do their schoolwork quietly. No food or drinks are permitted. Students who are asked to leave due to their behavior will be suspended. The detention list will be given to the Assistant Principals’ Office and the Athletic Director and should be posted for all coaches to check.
A major infraction of the Code of Discipline disrupts the school environment and creates an unsafe atmosphere for the school community. Major infractions of the Code of Discipline will result in disciplinary action up to and including expulsion. The following behaviors are considered major infractions of the Code of Discipline:
- Controlled Substances/Illegal Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco Policy Violations
- Bomb scares, fake fire alarms
- Cheating / Plagiarism / Academic Dishonesty
- Failure to identify oneself, defiance
- Major insubordination
- Felony, felony delinquency
- Fireworks possession
- Food fight
- Hate Crime
- Inappropriate use of school technology
- Intimidation, threats, harassment
- Leaving the building and/or school grounds without permission
- Present in an unauthorized area
- Profane, vulgar, obscene behavior
- Repeated violations of the Code of Discipline
- Sexual harassment
- Smoking (tobacco, electronic or vapor cigarettes) or the use of chew
- Theft of school or student property
- Throwing objects to endanger people
- Violation of civil rights and safety
Assault and Battery/Bodily Harm
- Assaults/fights - causes or attempts to cause physical injury or harm to another person, or intentionally acts in a manner that could reasonably place another person in danger of physical damage or harm. (See also M.G.L. c. 71 § 37H included in the Handbook below).
- Food fight — throws food or other objects in the school cafeteria and/or creates a disruptive environment.
- Throwing objects (including snowballs) -- throws an object out of school windows or on school grounds, throws inappropriate objects on the school grounds.
Possession of Firearms, Dangerous Weapons, Dangerous Objects
- Weapons - possesses, uses, handles, sells or transmits any firearms or other weapons on school property or at any school activities. “Other weapons” includes knives, razor blades, tasers, blackjacks, nunchucks, kung fu fighting sticks, and/or other inherently dangerous weapons, including but not limited to mock and toy guns. (See also M.G.L. c. 71 § 37H included in this Handbook).
- Firearms – Firearms of any sort are not allowed on school grounds. The definition of firearms includes any pistol, revolver, rifle, or smoothbore arm from which a shot, bullet, or pellet can be discharged by whatever means. (M.G.L. c. 70 § 10: “Whoever not being a law enforcement officer, and notwithstanding any license obtained by them under the provision of chapter one hundred and forty, carries on their person a firearm as herein defined, loaded or unloaded in any building or on the grounds of any secondary school, college or university without the written authorization of the board or officer in charge of such secondary school, college or university shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year or both. For the purpose of this paragraph “firearm” shall mean any pistol, revolver, rifle, or smoothbore arm from which a shot, bullet, or pellet can be discharged by whatever means.)
- Fireworks - possesses, uses, or causes to explode any firework or chemical. According to the General Law of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: “No person shall set or have in their possession, or under their control, or use, or explode, or cause to explode, any combustible or explosive composition or substance or any other article, which was prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, defloration or detonation.”
“Whoever shall sell or keep for sale any fireworks in violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than ten dollars nor more than one hundred dollars.” These excerpts are taken directly from the Laws of Massachusetts. The public law on fireworks will be strictly enforced within the buildings, at school events and on the grounds of Falmouth High School. Students in violation of the above laws will be suspended immediately and/or referred to the authorities for court action.
Controlled Substances, Alcohol, Tobacco
- Alcohol or Drugs - Knowingly possesses, uses, sells, transports or attends school under the influence of drugs or other related controlled substances. Included as a prohibited practice in this policy is possession of drug paraphernalia, including but not limited to pipes, roach clips, rolling papers, etc. (See also M.G.L. c. 71 § 37H included in this Handbook). Use by a student of a drug authorized by a medical prescription from a registered physician in accordance with the instruction for use as prescribed shall not be considered a violation. Being in the “knowing presence” where alcohol or drugs are being consumed, under the influence of alcohol, transporting, distributing, and/or selling is punishable as a major offense. It is required that students remove themselves from areas or situations where drugs or alcohol are present or in use. The student’s condition will be assessed by the school administrative personnel at the time of the incident and is contestable only at that point in time.
Students suspended for drug or alcohol offenses must submit written proof of negative results from a drug and alcohol screening test prior to being re-admitted to school. The test will be required for any nature of alcohol or drug offense whether it be possession, use, selling, transferring, under the influence of or in the presence of (example: prom vehicles). Costs for tests are borne by the student and/or parent/guardian, and are not reimbursable.
Students suspended for alcohol or drug offenses will not be permitted to attend any school functions and/or activities for the remainder of the year. Students may appeal this portion of the suspension consequence to the school’s Principal no later than 14 days prior to the event. The determination of the Principal is final.
NOTE — MIAA: Drug and alcohol violations under the rules of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association may result in lengthy or permanent exclusion from athletic participation.
- Smoking/Tobacco/Nicotine Use - Possession and/or use of any of the following is prohibited on school grounds and/or at school-sponsored events:
Controlled substances, illegal drugs, tobacco/nicotine, alcohol, and any and all related products and/or paraphernalia, including but not limited to alcohol in any form including alcohol in food and/or candy products, any controlled substance or drug not prescribed by a physician for a student, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, bongs, lighters, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, vape pens, Juuls, Suorins, vaporizers, hookah pens, drip tips, dabs, dab pens, wax pens, vape pods, vape chargers, vape batteries, vape extractors, vape cartridges, vape atomizers, vape cartomizers, vape clearomizers, vape tank systems, marijuana, rolling papers, pipes, clips, marijuana/cannabis oil, hash oil, hemp oil, THC oil, CBD oil, edibles, chemicals, drips, e-juice, e-oils, e-juice and e-oil containers, vials and bottles, and anything with trace controlled substance, illegal drug, tobacco/nicotine, and/or alcohol residue.
Felony or Felony Delinquency Charges
- Student has been charged with a felony (or with a felony delinquency for a student under 18); and the Principal, determines and states in writing that the student’s continued presence in school would have a substantial detrimental effect on the general welfare of the school. This offense may result in a suspension pending adjudication of charges. The student may appeal such a decision to the Superintendent. (M.G.L. c 71 § 37H1/2).
- Student has been convicted of a felony (or upon an adjudication or admission in court of guilt for a felony or felony delinquency); and the Principal determines and states in writing that the student’s continued presence in school would have a substantial detrimental effect on the general welfare of the school. This offense may result in expulsion. The student may appeal such a decision to the Superintendent. (M.G.L. c 71 § 37H1/2)
Falmouth High School cooperates fully with law enforcement agencies regarding felony or other criminal investigations.
Harassment and/or Violations of Civil Rights
- Intimidation — presents any form of behavior that interferes with another person’s sense of safety, dignity, comfort, or productivity in the school environment, such as:
- name-calling (verbal / written), teasing, mimicking, slurs, or other derogatory remarks;
- offensive graffiti, symbols, posters, pictures, cartoons / caricatures notes, book covers, or designs on clothing
- phone calls, e-mails, text messaging, and/or instant messages;
- touching of a person or a person’s clothing;
- words, pranks, or actions which provoke feelings of embarrassment, hurt, or humiliation;
- Threats — suggests verbally and/or physically an intent to harm another person.
- Harassment engages in behavior, unwelcome by the recipient, which threatens a person and impairs the learning process, impinging upon the safe climate of the school. Harassing behaviors include, but are not limited to, behaviors that relate to a person’s: gender, race, color, ethnicity / national origin, religion, age, handicap / disability, sexual orientation, physical appearance, physical / mental capacity. (Please see more specific information on the Falmouth High School policy on harassment and discrimination in this handbook.)
- Hate Crime - commits any criminal act coupled with overt actions motivated by bigotry and bias including, but not limited to, a threatened, attempted, or completed overt act motivated at least in part, by racial, religious, ethnic, handicap or sexual orientation prejudice, or which otherwise deprives another person of their constitutional rights by threats, intimidation or coercion, or which seeks to interfere with or disrupt a person’s exercise of constitutional rights through harassment or intimidation.
- Hazing - willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person. Hazing carries possible penalties as described below. The following sections from the Massachusetts General Laws concern the crime of hazing (M.G.L. c 269 Sections 17-19):
Section 17: “Whoever is a principal organizer or participant in the crime of hazing, as defined herein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than three thousand dollars or by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than one year, or both such fine and imprisonment. The term ''hazing'' as used in this section and in sections eighteen and nineteen, shall mean any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person. Such conduct shall include whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, drug or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any such student or other person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep or rest or extended isolation. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section to the contrary, consent shall not be available as a defense to any prosecution under this action.”
Section 18: “Whoever knows that another person is the victim of hazing as defined in section seventeen and is at the scene of such crime shall, to the extent that such person can do so without danger or peril to himself or others, report such crime to an appropriate law enforcement official as soon as reasonably practicable. Whoever fails to report such crime shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.”
Section 19: “Each institution of secondary education and each public and private institution of post secondary education shall issue to every student group, student team or student organization which is part of such institution or is recognized by the institution or permitted by the institution to use its name or facilities or is known by the institution to exist as an unaffiliated student group, student team or student organization, a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen; provided, however, that an institution's compliance with this section's requirements that an institution issue copies of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen to unaffiliated student groups, teams or organizations shall not constitute evidence of the institution's recognition or endorsement of said unaffiliated student groups, teams or organizations. Each such group, team or organization shall distribute a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen to each of its members, plebes, pledges or applicants for membership. It shall be the duty of each such group, team or organization, acting through its designated officer, to deliver annually, to the institution an attested acknowledgement stating that such group, team or organization has received a copy of this section and said sections seventeen and eighteen, that each of its members, plebes, pledges, or applicants has received a copy of sections seventeen and eighteen, and that such group, team or organization understands and agrees to comply with the provisions of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen. Each institution of secondary education and each public or private institution of post secondary education shall, at least annually, before or at the start of enrollment, deliver to each person who enrolls as a full time student in such institution a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen. Each institution of secondary education and each public or private institution of post secondary education shall file, at least annually, a report with the board of higher education and in the case of secondary institutions, the board of education, certifying that such institution has complied with its responsibility to inform student groups, teams or organizations and to notify each full time student enrolled by it of the provisions of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen and also certifying that said institution has adopted a disciplinary policy with regard to the organizers and participants of hazing, and that such policy has been set forth with appropriate emphasis in the student handbook or similar means of communicating the institution's policies to its students. The board of higher education and, in the case of secondary institutions, the board of education shall promulgate regulations governing the content and frequency of such reports, and shall forthwith report to the attorney general any such institution which fails to make such report.”
Penalties will range in nature from parent/guardian conferences up to, and including, exclusion. All hazing allegations will be reported to the police.
Dishonesty, Stealing, and Vandalism
- Theft of school / student property — Takes school property or the property of another person, with or without force, coercion, intimidation, or threat of violence.
- Vandalism — Cuts, defaces, marks up, or otherwise injures in any way, any part of the school property, books or equipment.
- Inappropriate use of technology — misuses computers or software programs; installs, downloads, and / or prints inappropriate or obscene materials, intentionally misuses another student or staff person’s identification number or password.
- Cheating / Plagiarism — copies prepared material and present it as one’s own copies another student’s work during a test, plagiarizes in term papers or gives false information to teachers.
- Forging Notes or False Phone Calls — forges or falsifies notes, corridor passes, or other authorizing documents. Impersonates a parent/guardian in writing or by any electronic method for the purposes of circumventing school rules.
Disruption to the School Environment
- Inappropriate Use of Technology — Students may not photograph or record teachers, students, administrators, or other school staff without their written permission, post images of staff or classroom activities on the Internet or any other form of electronic communication, including social networking postings such as Snap Chat, Instagram, etc., without written permission. Students may not use any form of electronic communication to harass, intimidate or threaten Falmouth High School students or staff.
Any student who engages in such inappropriate communication causing a member of the school community to feel harassed, intimidated or threatened, or who substantially disrupts the educational mission of the Falmouth Public Schools shall be subject to the following disciplinary consequences depending upon the severity of the misconduct:
- Removal from class or classes
- Community Service
- Long-term suspension (beyond 10 days)
- Bomb Scares — Calls in a false bomb report. This action is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for up to twenty years and by a fine of up to ten thousand dollars (MGL Ch. 169 Sect. 14A). Persons making such report will be suspended and referred to police.
- Failure to Identify, Defiance of Authority, Insubordination — Refuses to comply with lawful orders of administrators, teachers or other authorized school personnel while properly under their authority or supervision; refuses to identify oneself or gives a false name or identity when asked by any faculty/staff member.
- Fire Alarms — pulls a fire alarm when no fire or other emergency exists. Massachusetts Law provides for imprisonment in a jail or House of Correction for up to one year, or for a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) for anyone who causes to be made a false alarm of fire (MGL. Ch. 269 Sect. 13). Anyone apprehended making a false alarm on school property will be suspended and referred to the authorities for court action.
- Gambling — gambles and/or sells or distributes gaming cards, football cards, and other gambling materials. All gambling is prohibited on school grounds or at school functions.
- Leaving School Building Without Permission — leaves the school grounds before the end of the school day without written permission from the Assistant Principal or Principal.
- Present in an Unauthorized Area — is physically present in an area that is off limits to students.
- Profanity, Vulgar Language, Obscene Behavior — uses profanity, vulgarity, obscene behavior or obscenities directed at another student or member of the staff upon school premises or at school related events.
- Failure to Cooperate During a School Emergency — does not conform to established rules regarding leaving the school building or remaining in an assigned location during any emergency or drill for such emergency.
Repeated Violations of the Code of Discipline
Repeat Violations — repeatedly commits one or more of the offenses described in Sections 1 through 7 above. Consequences for repeated and flagrant violations of the Code of Discipline may result in long-term suspension or expulsion, but not until all other consequences and remedial strategies have been attempted. These consequences and strategies may include, but are not limited to, verbal or written warnings, counseling, parent/guardian conferences, restitution, and restrictions from school activities, behavior contracts, weekly progress/ behavior reports, peer mediation, detention, late detention, and short-term suspension.
Procedures for Short-Term Suspension
The Principal or Assistant Principals may suspend students for periods of ten days or less, to be served in and/or out of school.
When a student is suspended, the following procedures will be followed:
- Except where the student’s presence endangers persons or property or threatens disruption to the academic process, no student will be suspended prior to having a meeting before an Assistant Principal and/or Principal. At this meeting, the student will be informed of the reason(s) for the proposed suspension, and will be given an opportunity to respond. In an emergency situation that requires the immediate removal of a student, the meeting will be held as soon after the suspension as possible.
- The Principal or an Assistant Principal will make an effort to notify the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) about the suspension.
- The Principal or Assistant Principal will send a letter to the parent(s) or guardian(s) confirming the suspension. This notification shall contain:
- the number of days of suspension;
- the re-admittance date;
- the reason(s) for suspension as provided in the Code of Discipline;
- a request for the readmission conference, held prior to the student’s return to school, the nature of which will be at the administrator’s discretion (e.g., phone conference, in person meeting, etc.).
Procedures for Long-Term Suspension or Expulsion
- Provide written notice of the following:
- Charges and a statement of the evidence
- Date, time and place of a hearing
- Notice of the right at the hearing to:
- be represented by legal counsel (at the student’s/parent’s/guardian’s own expense)
- present evidence
- confront witnesses
- Provide a written decision setting forth the facts upon which the decision is based.
A parent/guardian/student may appeal any decision by the Principal to suspend a student on a long- term basis or to expel the student pursuant to M.G.L. c.71 §37H, by sending a written request to the Superintendent within 10 days of the notice of suspension/expulsion. The suspension/ expulsion will remain in effect pending completion of the appeal.
Notwithstanding the above, the Principal may suspend or expel a student from school, under the provisions of Chapter 71, Sections 37H and 37H 1/2 of Massachusetts General Laws for the following offenses when they occur on school premises, at a school sponsored or school-related event:
- possession of a dangerous weapon
- possession of a controlled substance as defined in Chapter 94C of General Laws
- assaults upon a Principal, teacher, teacher’s aide, or other educational staff, and
- circumstance in which a student has been charged with or convicted of a felony
- charged/convicted of a felony using the standards and procedures set forth in M.G.L. c.7l, § 37H1/2.
Chapter 71: Section 37H. Policies relative to conduct of teachers or students; student handbooks
Section 37H. The superintendent of every school district shall publish the district's policies pertaining to the conduct of teachers and students. Said policies shall prohibit the use of any tobacco products within the school buildings, the school facilities or on the school grounds or on school buses by any individual, including school personnel. Said policies shall further restrict operators of school buses and personal motor vehicles, including students, faculty, staff and visitors, from idling such vehicles on school grounds, consistent with section 16B of chapter 90 and regulations adopted pursuant thereto and by the department. The policies shall also prohibit bullying as defined in section 37O and shall include the student-related sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plan required by said section 37O. Copies of these policies shall be provided to any person upon request and without cost by the principal of every school within the district.
Each school district's policies pertaining to the conduct of students shall include the following: disciplinary proceedings, including procedures assuring due process; standards and procedures for suspension and expulsion of students; procedures pertaining to discipline of students with special needs; standards and procedures to assure school building security and safety of students and school personnel; and the disciplinary measures to be taken in cases involving the possession or use of illegal substances or weapons, the use of force, vandalism, or violation of a student's civil rights. Codes of discipline, as well as procedures used to develop such codes shall be filed with the department of education for informational purposes only.
In each school building containing the grades nine to twelve, inclusive, the principal, in consultation with the school council, shall prepare and distribute to each student a student handbook setting forth the rules pertaining to the conduct of students. The student handbook shall include an age-appropriate summary of the student-related sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plan required by section 37O. The school council shall review the student handbook each spring to consider changes in disciplinary policy to take effect in September of the following school year, but may consider policy changes at any time. The annual review shall cover all areas of student conduct, including but not limited to those outlined in this section.
Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, all student handbooks shall contain the following provisions:
- Any student who is found on school premises or at school-sponsored or school-related events, including athletic games, in possession of a dangerous weapon, including, but not limited to, a gun or a knife; or a controlled substance as defined in chapter ninety-four C, including, but not limited to, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, may be subject to expulsion from the school or school district by the principal.
- Any student who assaults a principal, assistant principal, teacher, teacher's aide or other educational staff on school premises or at school-sponsored or school-related events, including athletic games, may be subject to expulsion from the school or school district by the principal.
- Any student who is charged with a violation of either paragraph (a) or (b) shall be notified in writing of an opportunity for a hearing; provided, however, that the student may have representation, along with the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses at said hearing before the principal.
After said hearing, a principal may, in their discretion, decide to suspend rather than expel a student who has been determined by the principal to have violated either paragraph (a) or (b).
- Any student who has been expelled from a school district pursuant to these provisions shall have the right to appeal to the superintendent. The expelled student shall have ten days from the date of the expulsion in which to notify the superintendent of their appeal. The student has the right to counsel at a hearing before the superintendent. The subject matter of the appeal shall not be limited solely to a factual determination of whether the student has violated any provisions of this section.
- Any school district that suspends or expels a student under this section shall continue to provide educational services to the student during the period of suspension or expulsion, under section 21 of chapter 76. If the student moves to another district during the period of suspension or expulsion, the new district of residence shall either admit the student to its schools or provide educational services to the student in an education service plan, under section 21 of chapter 76.
- Districts shall report to the department of elementary and secondary education the specific reasons for all suspensions and expulsions, regardless of duration or type, in a manner and form established by the commissioner. The department of elementary and secondary education shall use its existing data collection tools to obtain this information from districts and shall modify those tools, as necessary, to obtain the information. On an annual basis, the department of elementary and secondary education shall make district level de-identified data and analysis, including the total number of days each student is excluded during the school year, available to the public online in a machine readable format. This report shall include district level data disaggregated by student status and categories established by the commissioner.
- Under the regulations promulgated by the department, for each school that suspends or expels a significant number of students for more than 10 cumulative days in a school year, the commissioner shall investigate and, as appropriate, shall recommend models that incorporate intermediary steps prior to the use of suspension or expulsion. The results of the analysis shall be publicly reported at the school district level.
Chapter 71: Section 37H ½. Felony complaint or conviction of student; suspension; expulsion; right to appeal
Section 37H1⁄2. Notwithstanding the provisions of section eighty-four and sections sixteen and seventeen of chapter seventy-six:
- Upon the issuance of a criminal complaint charging a student with a felony or upon the issuance of a felony delinquency complaint against a student, the principal or headmaster of a school in which the student is enrolled may suspend such student for a period of time determined appropriate by said principal or headmaster if said principal or headmaster determines that the student's continued presence in school would have a substantial detrimental effect on the general welfare of the school. The student shall receive written notification of the charges and the reasons for such suspension prior to such suspension taking effect. The student shall also receive written notification of their right to appeal and the process for appealing such suspension; provided, however, that such suspension shall remain in effect prior to any appeal hearing conducted by the superintendent.
The student shall have the right to appeal the suspension to the superintendent. The student shall notify the superintendent in writing of their request for an appeal no later than five calendar days following the effective date of the suspension. The superintendent shall hold a hearing with the student and the student's parent or guardian within three calendar days of the student's request for an appeal. At the hearing, the student shall have the right to present oral and written testimony on their behalf, and shall have the right to counsel. The superintendent shall have the authority to overturn or alter the decision of the principal or headmaster, including recommending an alternate educational program for the student. The superintendent shall render a decision on the appeal within five calendar days of the hearing. Such decision shall be the final decision of the city, town or regional school district with regard to the suspension.
- Upon a student being convicted of a felony or upon an adjudication or admission in court of guilt with respect to such a felony or felony delinquency, the principal or headmaster of a school in which the student is enrolled may expel said student if such principal or headmaster determines that the student's continued presence in school would have a substantial detrimental effect on the general welfare of the school. The student shall receive written notification of the charges and reasons for such expulsion prior to such expulsion taking effect. The student shall also receive written notification of their right to appeal and the process for appealing such expulsion; provided, however, that the expulsion shall remain in effect prior to any appeal hearing conducted by the superintendent.
The student shall have the right to appeal the expulsion to the superintendent. The student shall notify the superintendent, in writing, of their request for an appeal no later than five calendar days following the effective date of the expulsion. The superintendent shall hold a hearing with the student and the student's parent or guardian within three calendar days of the expulsion. At the hearing, the student shall have the right to present oral and written testimony on their behalf, and shall have the right to counsel. The superintendent shall have the authority to overturn or alter the decision of the principal or headmaster, including recommending an alternate educational program for the student. The superintendent shall render a decision on the appeal within five calendar days of the hearing. Such decision shall be the final decision of the city, town or regional school district with regard to the expulsion.
Any school district that suspends or expels a student under this section shall continue to provide educational services to the student during the period of suspension or expulsion, under section 21 of chapter 76. If the student moves to another district during the period of suspension or expulsion, the new district of residence shall either admit the student to its schools or provide educational services to the student under an education service plan, under section 21 of chapter 76.
Details and Ramifications of Suspension
Before being re-admitted from a suspension, the student must report to the designated school official with a parent or guardian for a conference.
Students suspended from the high school are not to be in any school building, on any school grounds, or attend any school function without permission from the Principal or an Assistant Principal.
A student on suspension is excluded from participating in or attending any school- related functions or activities until the first day of classes after the completion of the suspension.
Suspensions prior to a weekend, holiday, or vacation period will render that student ineligible for all athletic participation during that weekend or holiday period. Under normal circumstances a suspension begins immediately on the day it is assigned and ends on the day the student formally is readmitted and in attendance at school. Suspension days do not include holidays, weekends, or snow days, i.e., a three-day suspension must be served on three school days.
If a suspension occurs during senior end-of-year activities, the suspension will be maintained up to and including the loss of participating in the senior banquet, senior trip, senior semi formal, senior awards, other senior activities, and graduation exercises. Any loss of money due to ticket purchases, etc. will not be refunded. The student will receive their diploma at a time established by the Principal.
Students suspended for violation of the school’s alcohol or drug policies will be re-admitted through the office of the Assistant Principal. The student and parent/guardian must attend the re-admittance meeting. Prior to formally returning to school the student must present a written lab report indicating their negative results for alcohol or drugs (including marijuana) within the body. The cost of this test is the total responsibility of the student/family.
A student who misses classes more than three days consecutively because of disciplinary reasons will be allowed to receive assignments and submit their completed work within three days of their return to school. Students should contact the Assistant Principals’ Office to secure their work.
Students who receive an out-of-school suspension of three days or less will be required to submit their completed work within one day of their return. It is the student’s responsibility to request the work.
Due process ensures that when disciplinary action is taken against a student, the student has the right to be treated fairly. The penalty that a student receives must be reasonably related to the regulation that the student has violated and the student is entitled to certain procedural rights when discipline is possible and in appealing disciplinary action once it is taken.
The Supreme Court has established the minimal procedural that must be followed before a student may be disciplined or suspended for less than ten days as follows:
- The student must be informed of what rule the student has broken.
- The student will be given an explanation of why it is believed that they have broken the rule if the student denies it.
- The student will be given a chance to tell their version of what happened.
Ordinarily these procedures are followed before a suspension takes place. However, if the student’s conduct is dangerous to other persons or threatens to disrupt school, the student may be suspended immediately. In such cases, the due process must be provided as soon as reasonable.
When a suspension for a period longer than ten consecutive days, or expulsion is being considered, the student is entitled to more formal due process protections as follows:
- The student must be informed in writing of all the charges and the evidence.
- The student has the right to an impartial hearing. (The person who conducts the hearing will not be the one who seeks to impose the suspension.) The student and their (legal representative/parent/guardian) will be given adequate time to prepare for this hearing.
- The student has the right to be represented by a lawyer and/or advocate at the hearing. The student’s (legal representative/parent/guardian) has the right to confront and to cross-examine witnesses.
- The student will have the right to present a defense of their position.
- The student has the right to a written decision.
A (legal representative/parent/guardian) may appeal any decision by the Principal to suspend the student on a long-term basis, or to expel the student pursuant to M.G.L. c.71 §37H, by sending a written request to the Superintendent within 10 days of the notice of suspension/expulsion.
Notwithstanding the above, the Principal may suspend or expel a student charged/convicted of a felony using the standards and procedures set forth in M.G.L. c. 71 §37H1/2.
In all cases, the suspension/expulsion will remain in effect pending completion of the appeal.
Discipline Levels and Responsibility
Teacher - Disciplinary actions may consist of preventive counseling, and before or after school obligations/detentions. Such obligations may be designed to correct attitudes or counsel on the responsibilities of living in the school community. Student club, sport, organization, or work responsibilities do not excuse the student from a teacher’s discipline. A student’s disciplinary action may be delayed by 24 hours to allow for appropriate notification.