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DISCIPLINE & AUTHORITY
- Who has the overall discipline authority in schools?
Alabama State Board of Education (“Board”) = Governor of Alabama & eight elected members MEMBERS ROLE Governor President of the Board Elected President (one of the 8 members) Serves in place of the Governor temporarily State Superintendent of Education (“Superintendent”) Secretary and executive officer Carries out/oversees day-to-day duties of the Department of Education Must follow the Board’s rules and policies Reviews actions of city and county boards of education and superintendents. Ala. Admin Code r. 290-010-010-05.
Role of the Board:
Writes policies for and coordinates all the public schools in Alabama
Local boards of education
Role of local boards:
- Submit education plans to the Superintendent
- Develop and distribute student behavior and discipline policies
- Suspensions and expulsions should be specifically listed in conduct codes as possible punishments. Ala. Code §§ 16-1-14 and 16-1-24.1(a).
- What is detention and when is it permitted?
Detention is the lowest level of disciplinary action for a student. During detention, a student is detained in school for disciplinary reasons, to make up school work, or to meet other school obligations. The teacher has the power to require detention of a student. Detention is not part of the state law, but each local school board is allowed to determine disciplinary procedures, including detention. Ala. Code §§ 16-1-14.
- A student can be suspended when
a) he/she creates disciplinary problems in the classroom or other school activity and
b) her/his presence in the class is harmful to the best interest and well-being of the class as a whole
Suspension may NOT deny students their full right to an equal and adequate education
Suspension rules and regulations MUST be approved by the State Board of Education
A school must immediately suspend a student when his/her offense warrants a criminal charge. A hearing must be scheduled within five school days. The decision regarding the student takes into account a review of the student’s exceptional status
- An exceptional child is a one who has been certified by a specialist, under regulations of the State Board of Education, as being unable to be educated in regular classes of the public school e.g. students who are retarded, speech impaired, deaf, crippled, emotionally conflicted, and learning disabled.
- What process is required to suspend a student?
Due Process Procedure for Suspension
i. The school administrator gives oral or written notice of the charges against the student.
ii. The student is allowed to present his/her side of the story.
iii. The school administrator explains the evidence against the student.
a. Each local school board has its own appeals process
- Under what circumstances can a student be expelled?
a) he/she creates disciplinary problems in the classroom or other school activity and
b) his/her presence in the class is harmful to the best interest and well-being of the class as a whole
c) Under Alabama law, a student shall receive a one year expulsion from school for possession of firearms in school buildings. Ala. Code § 16-1-24.3.
- What notice is the student and parent entitled to if the principal recommends expulsion?
Expulsions require at least the following
i. Notice in writing of:
a. the school’s intention to expel the student
b. the place, time and circumstances of the hearing (with sufficient time for a defense to be prepared)
ii. A full and fair hearing before a fair adjudicator (a person judging the matter)
iii. Right to legal counsel or some other adult representation
iv. The right to be fully informed of the proof or evidence
v. The opportunity to cross-examine the witness
vi. Some type of written record proving that the decision was based on the evidence presented at the hearing
Alabama State Board of Education, “Student Issues—Constitutional Rights” http://www.alsde.edu/Academy/Law/59StudentIssues-ConstitutionalRights.pdf
ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES
- What does “zero tolerance” mean?
A “zero tolerance” response to an offense is:
- Includes severe punishment (usually suspension or expulsion)
In Alabama, possession of firearms in school buildings receives a one year expulsion from school.
- HOWEVER, this expulsion may not take away the right of students to an equal and adequate education. Ala. Code § 6-1-14.
- INSTEAD of being expelled, students may be permitted to attend other (alternative) schools designed to provide educational services. Ala. Code § 16-1-24.3 (a).
- When is it permitted?
Corporal punishment is permitted for maintaining order and discipline in school, as long as it does not go against local school board policy.
- Who is allowed to use corporal punishment?
Public school teachers
- Principals, assistant principals, and other school personnel
- For more information on school discipline
Alabama State Department of Education: “Special Education—Discipline” http://www.alsde.edu/html/sections/documents.asp?section=65&sort=20&footer=sections
- Alabama State Department of Education: “Student Issues—Conduct Regulations” http://www.alsde.edu/Academy/Law/49StudentIssues-ConductRegulations.pdf
- Alabama State Board of Education, “Student Issues—Constitutional Rights” http://www.alsde.edu/Academy/Law/59StudentIssues-ConstitutionalRights.pdf
- Is there a state policy on bullying?
Definition of bullying: (2) HARASSMENT. A continuous pattern of intentional behavior that takes place on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored function including, but not limited to, written, electronic, verbal, or physical acts that are reasonably perceived as being motivated by any characteristic of a student, or by the association of a student with For Information Only 2 an individual who has a particular characteristic, if the characteristic falls into one of the categories of personal characteristics contained in the model policy adopted by the department or by a local board. To constitute harassment, a pattern of behavior may do any of the following:
- Place a student in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property.
- Have the effect of substantially interfering with the educational performance, opportunities, or benefits of a student.
- Have the effect of substantially disrupting or interfering with the orderly operation of the school.
- Have the effect of creating a hostile environment in the school, on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored function.
- Have the effect of being sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.
- Are there dress code requirements for schools? Can school uniforms be required?
A school district’s governing board may adopt policies that allow schools to require reasonable dress codes (including dress codes that require students to wear school uniforms).
A dress code would usually be found in the code of conduct of the school or district.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS (ELL)
- How does a student qualify as an ELL and what is the testing procedure?
An English Language Learner (ELL) is a student who has a first language other than English and is in the process of learning English.
- ELL students must be identified at the point of enrollment.
- The enrollment procedure for ELLs must be consistent, facilitate entry into the new school environment and include a Home Language Survey (HLS).
- Schools may conduct an interview with the student and/or parents during the enrollment process. Information from this interview may be helpful to the ELL’s committee when considering proper placement for the student later.
- The assistance of a translator may be required to complete the Home Language Survey.
- The completed survey becomes part of the student’s permanent record and is kept for future reference.
Questions the HLS must (AT LEAST) contain:
1. Is a language other than English spoken at home?
2. Is your child’s first language a language other than English?
A student is considered an English-only speaker when:
- All responses on the HLS indicate that English is the only language used by the student and by individuals in the home. English-only speakers are placed in the general student population through procedures established by the school.
A student is considered a language-minority student when:
- He or she indicates a language other than English on any of the survey questions.
- If any response on the survey indicates the use of a language other than English by the student or an individual in the student’s home, then the student’s English-language proficiency level must be further evaluated.
- The indication of a language other than English on the survey does not automatically label a student as not competent/proficient in English.
Assessment of English language proficiency:
- These initial tests determine the level of English proficiency of the student and facilitate proper instructional and program placement decisions.
- Language-minority students identified through the HLS during registration at the beginning of the school year must be assessed for English-language proficiency within thirty (30) days of enrollment.
- Language-minority students who register after the beginning of the school year must be assessed within ten (10) days of enrollment.
- The test used by Alabama to help place students in a school’s English language development program is called the World-Class
- What instructional programs are available for ELLs?
Rights of language-minority students:
Must have access to instructional programs and related services for special populations, including but not limited to:
i. Pre-school programs
- Career/technical programs
- Special education programs
- Gifted and talented programs
- Extracurricular activities
* All student support programs and services, and extracurricular activities must be available to ELLs on the same basis that they are available to other students.
* Each school board is responsible for making sure ELL students have access to comparable instructional materials, facilities, and other resources as other students.
Advanced Placement Courses:
i. ELLs can participate in advanced placement courses
ii. However, accommodations on AP Exams for ELLs are not permitted
iii. ELLs taking AP courses should receive classroom accommodations
Special Education Programs:
i. Special education programs and services must be provided in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA).
ii. All school boards must include a description for communicating with non-English speaking students/parents in their Individual Education Plan (IEP).
iii. Care should be exercised to make sure that limited-English proficiency is not the basis of referring a student to special education services.
Bilingual instruction is available for ELL students. All bilingual programs use the students’ home language and English for instruction. These programs are most easily carried out in districts with a large number of students from the same language background. Students in bilingual programs are grouped according to their first language, and teachers must be proficient in both English and the students’ home language
Early-exit bilingual programs Purpose: To help children gain the English skills necessary to succeed in an English-only mainstream classroom.
Programs Provide: Early instruction in the students’ first language for reading and clarification.
First language instruction is phased out rapidly.
Most students switch over to mainstream classrooms by the end of first or second grade.
Choosing these programs may simply be a preference of a student’s parent or community
OR it may be the only bilingual program option available in districts with limited bilingual teachers.
Late-exit programs Programs Provide: First language instruction for a longer period of time.
First language instruction lasts throughout elementary school.
Students in these programs receive at least 40 percent of their instruction in their first language, even after they have been classified as fluent-English-proficient.
Two-way bilingual programs (developmental bilingual programs) Programs Provide: Instruction to a mixed group of language minority students from the same language background and language majority (English-speaking) students.
Ideally, there is a 50/50 balance between language majority and minority students.
Instruction is provided in both English and the minority language.
Language may be alternated by day, time of day, or subject area.
Both native English speakers and speakers of another language have the opportunity to gain proficiency in a second language while continuing to develop skills in their native language.
Students serve as native-speaker role models for their peers.
Classes in these programs may be taught by a single teacher proficient in both languages, or by two teachers, one of whom is bilingual.
Alabama recommends that each ELL student have an Individual English Language Plan (I-ELP) which should be updated every year until the student achieves Former Limited English Proficient (FLEP) status.
The ELL Committee should use the following guidelines in implementing the I-ELP:
- Make sure each student’s language background is fully considered before placement in an English language instruction educational program.
- Make sure procedures and protections are implemented to ensure the appropriateness of ELL identification, placement, assessment, instructional and support programs, and program exit.
- Review student’s progress in English language and academic achievement every year.
- Meet as often as necessary to discuss changes or adjustments in the ELLs instructional services.
- Identify accommodations needed on state assessments. Additional classroom strategies and accommodations should be identified as needed.
- Communicate in a timely manner the student’s I-ELP with faculty and staff who interact with and instruct the child.
- Make sure the I-ELP describes how the school will communicate with the student’s parents in their native language.
- Determine and record the date of placement into the ELL program on ACCESS for ELLs Demographics page so that “Length of time in LEP/ELs Program” is established.
Helpful documents or links
Questions and Answers about the Alabama English Language Learners can be found at:
ABILITY GROUPING FOR LEARNING PURPOSES
- Does the state have any state policy on ability grouping?
Alabama schools have three diploma “tracks” for graduation:
- A “standard” high school diploma
- A high school diploma with advanced academic endorsement: The equivalent of an honors degree.
- A high school diploma with credit-based endorsement: Available to students with disabilities.
Ala. Admin Code r. 290-3-1-.02.
STATE PARENT INFORMATION RESOURCE CENTERS
- Contact Information
Alabama Parent Education Center
10520 US Highway 231
Wetumpka, AL 36092
Phone: (334) 567-2252, (866) 532-7660 – Toll Free in Alabama
Fax: (334) 567-9938
Summary of Services: The Alabama Parent Education Center (APEC) is a small non-profit organized by parents in central Alabama formed to provide parents with training and information to help them become meaningful participants in their children’s education.
ALABAMA STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
State Superintendent of Education
50 North Ripley Street
P.O. Box 302101
Montgomery, Alabama 36104
Phone: (334) 242-9700
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
Contact information for the Alabama office
U.S. Department of Education
61 Forsyth Street S.W., Suite 19T70
Atlanta, GA 30303-8927
Telephone: (404) 974-9406
Facsimile: (404) 974-9471