Handbook » Student Handbook - Appendix A

Student Handbook - Appendix A


MEETINGHOUSE SCHOOL WESTMINSTER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

 

Student Handbook 

2022-2023


APPENDIX A PPENDIX A 

DUE PROCESS and OTHER PROVISIONS RELATING TO STUDENT SUSPENSION OR EXPULSION

 

STATUTORY OFFENSES: CONDUCT THAT MAY LEAD TO EXPULSION UNDER M.G.L. c. 71, §37H and 37H

 

Under M.G.L. Ch. 71, §§37H, students are subject to expulsion (i.e., permanent exclusion) by the Principal for the following conduct:

 

Possession of a controlled substance (such as marijuana, cocaine, or prescription drugs not authorized by the school nurse)

Possession of a dangerous weapon*

Assault on teachers, administrative staff or other educational personnel

 

*This includes not only knives and guns, explosive devices and realistic replicas of such weapons/devices, but also other objects used to assault another person or to otherwise create a dangerous situation, such as a baseball bat, a pair of scissors, matches or a lighter. While such objects would not always constitute “dangerous weapons”, administrators and educational professionals will review the circumstances of each case and make a reasonable determination about whether a particular object in a student’s possession constitutes a dangerous weapon in the school setting. Any illegal weapon will be turned over to the Police Department. Any student who brings a firearm to school must be expelled for a minimum of one school year, with exceptions granted only by the superintendent. (The definition of a firearm includes but is not limited to guns (including a starter gun), bombs, grenades, rockets, missiles, mines and similar devices.)

 

Students are also subject to long term suspension/expulsion by the Principal when charged/convicted of a felony based upon the standards and procedures set forth in M.G.L. c.71, §37H   .

 

Any student who is removed from school for a disciplinary offense under M.G.L. c. 71, §37H or §37H for more than ten consecutive days will have an opportunity to receive educational services and make academic progress during the period of removal under a school-wide education service plan, and will be informed at the time of the suspension/expulsion.

 

Procedures Applicable to Statutory Offenses

 

Removal Pending Disciplinary Hearing for Statutory Offenses

 

For statutory offenses covered by M.G.L. c. 71, § 37H and § 37H1/2 (possession of a dangerous weapon, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a dangerous weapon, assault on school staff and/or felony charges/conviction), the principal may exclude the student from school on a short-term basis (not to exceed 10 school days), pending a formal hearing, if the principal determines the removal is necessary to avoid danger or substantial disruption to the learning environment. Prior to removal pending a hearing, the Principal shall provide written notice to the student and parent/guardian that includes:

  • a description of the offense;
  • the reason for the removal pending hearing;
  • a statement of the duration of the removal pending hearing (not to exceed 10 school day);
  • notice of the formal hearing and due process rights, in compliance with G.L. c. 71, § 37H and/or § 37H1/2, as applicable (see above); and,
  • a statement that the student has the opportunity to earn credits, as applicable, make up assignments, tests, papers, and other school work as needed to make academic progress during the period of removal pending

 

The Principal shall also make reasonable attempts to contact the student and the parent/guardian to describe the offense and give the student and the parent/guardian an opportunity to explain the circumstances, prior to removal of a student pending a disciplinary hearing. If the Principal is not able to contact the student and the parent/guardian to provide this opportunity, the Principal may delay this opportunity to after the issuance of the notice of exclusion pending hearing, if the Principal deems the delay necessary to avoid danger or substantial disruption.

 

Controlled Substances, Dangerous Weapons and Assaults on Education Personnel (M.G.L. c. 71, § 37H)

 

  • 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 his discretion, decide to suspend rather 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 five days from the date of the expulsion in which to notify the Superintendent of his appeal. The student has the right to counsel at a hearing before the Superintendent. The subject matter of the appeal is not 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, such as tutoring or access to an online learning platform, 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 the school or provide educational services to the student in an education service plan, under section 21 of chapter 76.

 

Felony Complaints and Felony Convictions (M.G.L. c. 71, §37H)

 

  • 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 his 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 his request for an appeal no later than five (5) calendar days following the effective date of the suspension. The Superintendent shall hold a hearing with the student and the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) within three (3) 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 his 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 (5) calendar days of the hearing. Such a 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 his 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 his request for an appeal no later than five (5) calendar days following the effective date of the expulsion. The superintendent shall hold a hearing with the student and the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) within three calendar days of the expulsion. At the hearing, the student shall have the right to present oral and written testimony on his 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 a 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. Educational services can include tutoring or access to an online learning platform. 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 the school or provide educational services to the student in an education service plan, under section 21 of chapter 76.

 

 

CONDUCT OTHER THAN STATUTORY OFFENSES

 

Conduct of concern in a school setting that is not covered by M.G.L. c. 71, §37H and 37H may result in disciplinary action up to and including long term suspension (up to 90 days) from school.

The administration will determine the consequences for serious infractions of the Code of Discipline and avoid using long-term suspension from school (i.e., more than ten days cumulative in a school year) as a consequence until alternatives have been tried as appropriate. Alternatives may include the use of evidence-based strategies and programs such as mediation, conflict resolution, restorative justice, and positive behavioral interventions and supports.)

 

If a principal decides to impose an out-of-school suspension on for a student in preschool or in grades K through 3, the principal will send to the superintendent a copy of the written determination and an explanation of the reasons therefore, before the out-of- school suspension takes effect.

 

Any student who is expelled or suspended from school for more than ten (10) consecutive days, whether in school or out of school, shall have an opportunity to receive education services and make academic progress toward meeting state and local requirements, through the school-wide education service plan. Educational services can include tutoring or access to an online learning platform.

 

DUE PROCESS: PROCEDURES THAT APPLY TO DISCIPLINE FOR CONDUCT OTHER THAN STATUTORY OFFENSES

 

In-School Suspension for Less than 10 Cumulative Days During a School Year

 

An in-school suspension is a removal of a student from regular classroom activities, but not from the school premises. The procedure for an in-school suspension of no more than (10) school days (consecutive or cumulatively for multiple infractions during the school year) will be as follows:

 

  1. The administrator will inform the student of the disciplinary offense charged, the basis for the charge, and provide the student an opportunity to respond. If the administrator determines that the student committed the disciplinary offense, the administrator will inform the student of the length of the student’s in-school suspension, which may not exceed 10 days, cumulatively or consecutively, in a school 
  2. On the same day as the in-school suspension decision, the administrator will make reasonable efforts to notify the parent orally of the disciplinary offense, the reasons for concluding that the student committed the infraction, and the length of the in-school suspension. The administrator will also invite the parent to a meeting to discuss the student’s academic performance and behavior, strategies for student engagement, and possible responses to the behavior. Such a meeting will be scheduled on the day of the suspension if possible, and if not, as soon thereafter as possible. If the administrator is unable to reach the parent after making and documenting at least (2) attempts to do so, such attempts will constitute reasonable efforts for purposes of orally informing the parent of the in-school suspension.
  3. The administrator will send written notice to the student and parent about the in-school suspension, including the reason and the length of the in-school suspension, and inviting the parent to a meeting with the administrator to discuss the student’s academic performance and behavior, strategies for student engagement and possible response to the behavior. Such a meeting will be scheduled on the day of the suspension if possible, and if not, as soon thereafter as possible. If the administrator is unable to reach the parent after making and documenting at least (2) attempts to do so, such attempts shall constitute reasonable efforts for purposes of orally informing the parent of the in-school 

An in-school suspension of more than 10 cumulative days in a school year will be subject to the procedures for long-term suspension found under Section C below.

 

Procedures for Short-Term, Out-of-School Suspensions (10 Cumulative Days or  Less in a School Year)

 

Except in the case of an Emergency Removal as provided under Section D below, prior to imposing a short-term out-of-school suspension (i.e., 10 days or less in a school year), an administrator will provide the student and his/her parent oral and written notice and an opportunity to participate in a hearing before imposing suspension as a consequence for misconduct. The Principal shall provide both oral and written notice to student and parent in English and in the primary language of the home if other than English. The notice shall include the rights enumerated in law and regulation. To conduct a hearing without a parent present, the Principal must be able to document reasonable efforts to include the parent.

  1. Notice: The written notice to the student and the parent will be in English and in the primary language of the home if other than English, or other means of communication where appropriate and will include the following:
    • The disciplinary offense;
    • The basis for the charge;
    • The potential consequences, including the potential length of the student’s suspension;
    • The opportunity for the student to have a hearing with the administrator concerning the proposed suspension, including the opportunity to dispute the charges and to present the student’s explanation of the alleged incident, and for the parent to attend the hearing;
    • The date, time, and location of the hearing;
    • The right of the student and the student’s parent to interpreter services at the hearing if needed to participate;
 

Written notice to the parent may be made by hand delivery, first-class mail, certified mail, or email to an address provided by the parent for school communications, or any other method of delivery agreed to by the school and parent.

  1. Efforts to Involve Parent: The administrator will make reasonable efforts to notify the parent of the opportunity to attend the hearing. To conduct a hearing without the parent present, the administrator must be able to document reasonable efforts to include the parent. The administrator is presumed to have made reasonable efforts if the administrator has sent written notice and has documented at least two (2) attempts to contact the parent in the manner specified by the parent for emergency notification.
  2. Format of Hearing: The administrator will discuss the disciplinary offense, the basis for the charge, and any other pertinent information. The student also will have an opportunity to present information, including mitigating facts, that the administrator should consider in determining whether other remedies and consequences may be appropriate. The administrator will provide the parent, if present, an opportunity to discuss the student’s conduct and offer information, including mitigating circumstances, that the administrator should consider in determining consequences for the student.
  3. Decision: The administrator will provide written notice to the student and parent of his/her determination and the reasons for it, and, if the student is suspended, the type and duration of suspension and the opportunity to make up assignments and such other school work as needed to make academic progress during the period of removal. The notice of determination may be in the form of an update to the original written notice of hearing.

 

 Procedures for Long-Term Suspension

 

Except in the case of an Emergency Removal provided under Section D below, prior to imposing a   long-term   suspension   (more than 10 days of suspension, whether in-school or out-of-school, whether consecutive or cumulative for multiple offenses during a school year), an administrator will follow the procedures for  short-term suspension plus additional procedures as follows:

 
Notice: The notice will include all of the components for a short-term suspension in Section B above, plus the following:

 

  • In advance of the hearing, the opportunity to review the student’s record and the documents upon which the administrator may rely in making a determination to suspend the student or not;
  • The right to be represented by counsel or a lay person of the student’s choice, at the student’s/parent’s expense;
  • The right to produce witnesses on his or her behalf and to present the student’s explanation of the alleged incident, but the student may not be compelled to do so;
  • The right to cross-examine witnesses presented by the school district;
  • The right to request that the hearing be recorded by the administrator, and a copy of the audio recording provided to the student or parent upon request; and
  • The right to appeal administrator’s decision to impose long-term suspension to the superintendent.

 

Format of Hearing: The Hearing will afford the rights set forth in the notice above. The administrator will also provide the parent, if present, an opportunity to discuss the student’s conduct and offer information, including mitigating circumstances, that the administrator should consider in determining consequences for the student.

 

Decision: Based on the evidence, the administrator will determine whether the student committed the disciplinary offense, and, if so, after considering mitigating circumstances and alternatives to long-term suspension, what remedy or consequence will be imposed, in place of or in addition to a long-term suspension. The administrator will send the written determination to the student and parent by hand-delivery, certified mail, first-class mail, email to an address provided by the parent for school communications, or any other method of delivery agreed to by the school and the parent. If the administrator decides to suspend the student on a long-term basis, the written determination will:
    • Identify the disciplinary offense, the date on which the hearing was held, and the participants at the hearing;
    • Set out the key facts and conclusions reached;
    • Identify the length and effective date of the suspension, as well as a date of return to school;
    • Include notice of the student’s opportunity to receive education services to make academic progress during the period of removal from school (if more than 10 consecutive days);
    • Inform the student of the right to appeal the administrator’s decision to the superintendent or designee. Notice of the right of appeal will be in English and the primary language of the home if other than English, or other means of communication where appropriate, and will include the following information stated in plain language: 
  • The process for appealing the decision, including that the student or parent must file a written notice of appeal with the superintendent within

five (5) calendar days of the effective date of the long-term suspension; provided that within the five (5) calendar days, the student or parent may request and receive from the superintendent an extension of time for filing the written notice for up to seven (7) additional calendar days; and that

  • The long-term suspension will remain in effect unless and until the superintendent decides to reverse the administrator’s determination on appeal.

 

No long-term suspension will extend beyond the end of the school year in which such suspension is imposed.

 

Exception for Emergency Removal

 

Notwithstanding the provisions for short or long-term suspension set forth above, a student who is charged with a disciplinary offense may be removed temporarily from school if the continued presence of the student poses a danger to persons or property, or materially and substantially disrupts the order of the school, and, in the administrator’s judgment, there is no alternative available to alleviate the danger or disruption.

 

The administrator will immediately notify the superintendent in writing of the removal and the reason for it, and describe the danger or disruption by the student.

 

The temporary removal will not exceed two (2) school days following the day of the emergency removal, during which time the administrator will provide the following, as applicable to the length of suspension:

 

  • Make immediate and reasonable efforts to orally notify the student and the student’s parent of the emergency removal, the reason for the need for emergency removal, and other applicable matters;
  • Provide written notice to the student and parent as provided in Section B or C above, as applicable;
  • Provide the student an opportunity for a hearing with the administrator, as applicable, and the parent an opportunity to attend the hearing, before the expiration of the two (2) school days, unless an extension of time for hearing is otherwise agreed to by the administrator, student, and parent.
  • Render a decision orally on the same day as the hearing, and in writing no later than the following school day.

 

An administrator may not remove a student from school on an emergency basis for a disciplinary offense until adequate provisions have been made for the student’s safety and transportation.

 

Appeal to the Superintendent

If a decision by an administrator, following the parent meeting, results in suspension of a student for more than 10 cumulative school days for the school year, the student may appeal the decision to the superintendent. In order to do so the student or parent must file a notice of appeal with the superintendent within five (5) calendar days with a seven (7) day postponement option. The superintendent must hold the hearing within three (3) school days of the student’s request, unless the student or parent requests an extension of up to seven (7) additional calendar days. If the appeal is not filed within this time frame, the superintendent may deny the appeal, or may allow the appeal in his or her discretion, for good cause.  The following apply:

 

  • The superintendent will make a good faith effort to include the parent in the hearing. The superintendent will be presumed to have made a good faith effort if he or she has made efforts to find a day and time for the hearing that would allow the parent and superintendent to participate.
  • The superintendent will send written notice to the parent of the date, time, and location of the hearing.
  • The superintendent will conduct a hearing to determine whether the student committed the disciplinary offense of which the student is accused, and if so, what the consequence will be. The superintendent will arrange for an audio recording of the hearing, a copy of which will be provided to the student or parent upon request.
  • The superintendent will inform all participants before the hearing that an audio record will be made of the hearing and a copy will be provided to the student and parent upon request.
  • The student will have all the rights afforded the student at the administrator’s hearing for long-term suspension as described in Section C above.
  • The superintendent will issue a written decision within five (5) calendar days of the hearing which meets the requirements for a long-term suspension as described in Section C above. If the superintendent determines that the student committed the disciplinary offense, the superintendent may impose the same or a lesser consequence than the administrator, but will not impose a suspension greater than that imposed by the administrator’s decision. 

 

The decision of the superintendent constitutes the final decision of the school district.