RULES OF CONDUCT AND STUDENT DUE PROCESS:
The MSDWT is governed by laws (IC 20-33-8) which permit school administrators to suspend and expel students for violating school regulations on school grounds; immediately before, during, and immediately after school hours, and at any other time when the school is being used by a school group, off school grounds at a school activity, function, or event, or traveling to or from school or a school activity, function, or event.
All students will be afforded “Student Due Process”. This means that students who violate school rules will be told what they did, what rule was violated, and be given a chance to respond to the allegations being made.
The administration and faculty of the MSDWT consider suspension and expulsion severe forms of discipline. They are used when the student’s behavior is such that harsh punishment is warranted or when necessary to maintain a positive educational atmosphere in the school.
“Suspension” means any disciplinary action that does not constitute an expulsion under IC 20-33-8-7 whereby a student is separated from school attendance for a period of not more than ten (10) school days. The term does not include situations in which a student is:
- Disciplined under IC 20-33-8-25, including short term removal by a teacher or assignment by the principal;
- Removed from school in accordance with IC 20-3-9 for illness; or
- Removed from school for failure to comply with the immunization requirements of IC 20-34-4-5.
“Expulsion” means disciplinary action or other action whereby a student is:
- Separated from school attendance for a period of more than ten (10) school days;
- Separated from school attendance for the balance of the current semester or current year unless a student is permitted to complete required examinations in order to receive credit for courses taken in the current semester or current year; or
- Separated from school attendance for the periods prescribed under section 16, which may include an assignment to attend an alternative school, an alternative educational program, or a homebound educational program.
The term does not include situations when a student is:
- Disciplined under IC 20-33-8-25 including short term removal by a teacher or assignment by the principal;
- Removed from school in accordance with IC 20-34-3-9 for illness; or
- Removed from school for failure to comply with the immunization requirements of IC 20-34-4-5.
Grounds for Suspension or Expulsion
Grounds for suspension or expulsion include student misconduct or substantial disobedience,
IC 20-33-8-14. The following are examples of student misconduct or substantial disobedience. (This list is not intended to be all inclusive.):
- Interference with school purposes or procedures.
- Damage to school property, stealing, or attempting to steal school property.
- Damage to personal property, stealing, or attempting to steal personal property.
- Physical injury to any person.
- Intimidation (threatening anyone) and/or verbal attacks against another person.
- Bullying; defined as overt, unwanted, repeated acts or gestures, including verbal or written communications or images transmitted in any manner (including digitally or electronically); physical acts committed; aggression; or any other behaviors committed by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate, or harm the targeted student, creating for the targeted student an objectively hostile school environment.
- Possession of a firearm or facsimile.
- Possession of a deadly weapon or other device or substance designed to inflict bodily harm.
- Possessing, using, transmitting, manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, being under the influence, or selling of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.
- Criminal law violation, including but not limited to theft and forgery.
- Insubordination (willful failure to comply with directions of school personnel).
- Violation of state law, including habitual truancy.
- Violating or repeatedly violating any rules that are reasonably necessary in carrying out school purposes or an educational function and are validly adopted and published by individual schools within the District.
- Lack of legal settlement within the District.
- Sending, sharing, viewing, or possessing pictures, text messages, emails, or other material of a sexual nature in electronic or any other form, including the contents of a cell phone or other electronic device.
- Academic dishonesty.
A principal may require that a student who (1) is at least 16 years of age; and (2) wishes to re-enroll after an expulsion to:
- Attend an alternative educational program evening classes; or
- Perform 120 hours of service with a nonprofit organization if the parent or guardian approves.
The grounds for suspension or expulsion apply when any student is:
- On school grounds immediately before or during school hours, or immediately after school hours, or at any other time when the school is being used by a school group; or
- Off school grounds at a school activity, function, or event; or
- Traveling to or from school or a school activity, function, or event.
In addition to the grounds specified, a student may be suspended or expelled for engaging in unlawful activity on or off school grounds if:
- The unlawful activity may reasonably be considered to be an interference with school purposes or an educational function; or
- The student’s removal is necessary to restore order or protect persons on school property; including an unlawful activity during weekends, holidays, other school breaks, and the summer period when a student may not be attending classes or other school functions.
“Firearm” and “Destructive Device” has the meaning set forth in IC 35-47-1-5.
A student who is identified as bringing a firearm or destructive device to school or on school property or in possession of a firearm or destructive device on school property; must be expelled for a period of at least one (1) calendar year, with the return of the student to be at the beginning of the first school semester after the end of the one (1) year period. The Superintendent may, on a case-by-case basis, modify the period of expulsion for a student who is expelled under this section. A student with disabilities (as defined in IC 20-35-7-7) who possesses a firearm or destructive device on school property is subject to procedural safeguards under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
“Deadly Weapon” has the meaning set forth in IC 35-31.5-2-86. A student who is identified as bringing a deadly weapon to school or on school property; or in possession of a deadly weapon on school property; may be expelled for a period of not more than one (1) calendar year.
The Superintendent or administrative designee shall notify the Marion County Prosecutor if a student is expelled under either of the above two offenses.
Suspension and Expulsion Procedures
School administrators have the right to suspend or expel students when such removal is reasonably necessary to carry out, or to prevent an interference with the educational function.
When a student is recommended for expulsion by the principal, the student and parent/ guardian will be afforded the opportunity to attend an expulsion meeting before an expulsion meeting examiner designated by the Superintendent. Attorneys are not allowed to be present at expulsion meetings. The expulsion meeting examiner will be responsible for providing the recommendations of appropriate disciplinary action following the expulsion meeting. Appeals of the expulsion examiner’s decision are not heard by the MSDWT Board of Education. Appeals must be made through the county court system.
Procedures for Students with Disabilities
Part of a parent’s/guardian’s role in partnership with the school is to gain an understanding for the school rules their student must follow. When a student with a disability breaks one of the school rules, he/she may be disciplined the same as a student without a disability. However, a student with a disability has additional protections in certain situations.
The MSDWT can suspend and expel students with disabilities in accordance with Article 7 and the following procedures:
If your child’s behavior is interfering with his/her learning or the learning of other students, the Case Conference Committee (CCC) will consider strategies, including positive behavioral interventions and supports, to address the behavior. The CCC may plan (and in certain situations, must plan) for a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA), which is a collection of information and an analysis of your child’s interfering behaviors. An FBA helps the CCC design a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) that will enable your child to learn new strategies and skills so that the unacceptable behavior(s) will not recur. The school/District is authorized to use a range of disciplinary actions if your child violates school rules or our Code of Conduct.
The school may remove a student with a disability for up to ten (10) consecutive school days when the student breaks school rules as long as the same discipline would apply to a student without a disability who broke the same rule. The school may remove the student up to the ten (10) consecutive school days each time the student breaks such rules. If the student is ever removed for only part of a day, it counts as a whole day of removal. The school does not have to provide any services to the student during the first ten (10) school days the student is removed.
After a student has been removed for more than ten (10) cumulative school days in the school year:
- The school principal or his/her designee must decide if this removal is a change of placement (see below), and
- The school must provide special education services to the student during this and any future days of removal.
Actions that constitute a change of placement for a student include:
If a series of suspensions totaling more than ten (10) instructional days forms a pattern, the school/District may continue to use suspensions only if it takes all steps required for a disciplinary change of placement. The CCC must meet, within ten (10) instructional days, for a Manifestation Determination. The CCC will also make decisions regarding the educational services that will be provided during the student’s removal from school.
The school/District may move your child to an Interim Alternative Educational Setting (IAES) for up to 45 calendar days if your child’s behavior involves a weapon, illegal drugs, or your child has inflicted serious bodily injury upon another person while at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the jurisdiction of the school or State of Indiana. The CCC will meet to select the IAES and other matters described under Manifestation Determination.
The school/District may request an expedited due process hearing to move your child to an IAES for up to 45 calendar days if we believe that maintaining your child in the current placement is likely to result in injury to your child or others.
The school/District may expel your child for the balance of the semester, the remainder of the school year, or for a calendar year. In addition to taking the steps described under Manifestation Determination, the school/District must follow all of the usual expulsion procedures including the appointment of a local expulsion examiner. The school/District may use two or more of these disciplinary actions in combination. For example, the principal may suspend a student immediately, until the Superintendent decides whether to initiate an expulsion. The school/District may also suspend a student before moving that student to an IAES.
If the school/District takes disciplinary action that is a change of placement, it must notify you and convene a meeting of the CCC within 10 instructional days to review the relationship between your child’s disability and the misbehavior that prompted the disciplinary action. This is called a Manifestation Determination. The CCC will determine whether your child’s behavior is a manifestation of his/her disability or the result of failure to implement your child’s individual education program (IEP).
The CCC will consider:
- Evaluation and diagnostic results including information provided by the parents/guardians;
- Observations of your child;
- Your child’s IEP and placement;
- Parent/Guardian input and
- Any other relevant information in the student’s life.
If the CCC determines the school/District failed to implement the IEP the school/District will take immediate steps to revise the IEP or consider the appropriateness of the placement or implementation of special education services.
If the CCC determines that any of the steps listed above were not met, the behavior must be considered a manifestation of your child’s disability.
If the CCC determines that your child’s behavior is a manifestation of his/her disability your child may not be suspended or expelled for the behavior. The CCC may review the current educational placement, IEP or current educational evaluation data and may revise the IEP or change the placement.
Even if the behavior is a manifestation of your child’s disability, the school/District may move your child to an IAES for 45 school days if the behavior involved a weapon, drugs, or infliction of serious bodily injury or the school/District may seek an expedited due process hearing to move your child to an IAES for 45 school days if the school/District believes that your child’s behavior is likely to result in injury to self or others.
If the CCC determines that your child’s behavior is not a manifestation of his/her disability, the school/District can proceed with the planned disciplinary action as it would for any nondisabled child engaging in the same behavior.
During a period of expulsion or following ten days of suspension, educational services will be provided to enable your child to progress in the general curriculum and to advance toward his/her IEP goals.
If you disagree with any part of the Manifestation Determination, the disciplinary action, the place selected as the IAES, the type or extent of services provided during a suspension or expulsion, or any other change in your child’s placement, you have the right to request mediation, a due process hearing, or both. When a hearing request relates to a Manifestation Determination or an IAES placement, the hearing will be expedited, which means that the timelines are shortened so that the final decisions can be reached quickly. The hearing will be scheduled within 20 school days and the decision will be mailed within ten (10) school days. Until the IHO decision is received your child will remain in the IAES, unless you and the school/ District agree otherwise.
Protections for Students Not Yet Eligible for Special Education & Related Services
Your child is entitled to the protections that are available to students with disabilities if, before your child violated a school rule or code of conduct:
- You expressed your concerns in writing (unless you are unable to read or have a disability that prevents you from writing) to one of our teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, student programs advisors, principals, or other administrators that your child needs special education and related services;
- Either you or our District has requested an educational evaluation;
- Your child’s teacher or other certified school personnel expressed a concern about your child’s behavior and performance to our Director of Special Services or to other administrators in accordance with our system for Child Find or referral for evaluation.
Your child will not be entitled to these protections if any of the following have occurred:
- The school/District has already conducted an evaluation and a CCC has determined that your child is not eligible for special education.
- The parent/guardian of the student has not allowed an evaluation of the student.
- The parent/guardian of the student has refused services.
If you make a written request for an evaluation of your child when your child is about to be expelled or has been expelled, the evaluation must be completed and the CCC must meet within 20 instructional days. The suspension or expulsion of your child will continue until the CCC meets. If your child is then found eligible for special education and related services, the school/District will provide Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and will reconsider your child’s expulsion by conducting a Manifestation Determination and may construct a behavior intervention plan as necessary.
Disciplining Students with a 504 Plan
Students with a Section 504 Plan are subject to the same disciplinary action as a non-disabled student, provided that the student’s behavior is not a manifestation of his or her qualifying disability. A 504 Team must conduct a manifestation determination whenever a disabled student is subject to out- of-school suspension for 10 consecutive school days or more. If the 504 Team concludes that the violation is a manifestation of the student’s qualifying disability, the discipline process must end and the 504 Team should review the 504 Plan to determine if changes are appropriate. If the violation is not a manifestation, the student is subject to the same disciplinary action that any non-disabled student would receive for the same violation.