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DISCIPLINE – AUTHORITY
- Who has the overall discipline authority in schools?
The Georgia School Board has the ultimate authority over disciplinary matters in Georgia schools; however, the “Local Educational Agency” (the local school district) is responsible for creating a code of conduct and setting discipline procedures that each school’s teachers and principals will enforce.
Creating Rules of Conduct and Discipline
Local School Board
Georgia School Board
Enforcing Rules of Conduct and Discipline
Local School Board
Georgia School Board
See Board of Education Rule (“Board Rule”) 160-4-7.10.
- What must the local school district’s Code of Conduct contain?
What must the local school district’s Code of Conduct contain?
- Standards of student behavior during school hours, at school-related functions, on school buses, and at school bus stops;
- Policies against verbal assault and threats of violence against students, teachers, administrators and other school personnel;
- Policies against physical assault against students, teachers, administrators and other school personnel;
- Policies against sexual harassment against students, teachers, administrators and other school personnel;
- Policies against disrespectful behavior or use of profane language toward other students, teachers, administrators, school personnel, and persons attending school- related functions;
- Consequences for not complying with attendance requirements;
- Consequences for purposely damaging school property or the personal property of any person at school, including marking or defacing property (such as “tagging”);
- Policies against encouraging others to break school rules or any other laws;
- Consequences for carrying a weapon;
- Consequences for using or possessing alcohol or illegal drugs;
- Policies against bullying;
- Consequences for students who continue to purposely violate school rules and the Code of Conduct.
- Consequences of any behavior, whether at school or not, that could result in the student being criminally charged with a felony that might make the student a potential danger to people or the property of the school or that disrupts education. See Board Rule 164-4- 18.18
- What type of discipline is permitted?
The Georgia Board of Education expects the schools to use a “progressive discipline process” that matches the severity of the discipline to the severity of the improper behavior, and takes into account the student’s disciplinary history and other relevant information about the improper behavior. See O.C.G.A. § 20-2-735.
Although each school district is responsible for setting its own disciplinary procedures, the state of Georgia does not permit schools to use most forms of long-term seclusion or physical or mechanical restraint as punishment. See O.C.G.A. § 160-5-1.35.
The following is a chart of a discipline procedure published by the Georgia Department of Education as an example of what a school might choose to use:
Progressive Discipline Chart
Type of Offense
Phone call home
Teacher Handles with note home
1 hour detention
2 hours detention
Saturday Work with Behavior Contract
Out of class without permission
Saturday work with Behavior Contract
Failure to serve detention
Saturday Work and Behavior contract.
- What if I disagree with the discipline given to my child? How do I appeal the decision?
What if I disagree with the discipline given to my child? How do I appeal disciplinary decisions?
If you disagree with a decision of the school you may request that the local school board have a “formal hearing” to review the decision of a school or school district. Parents should write a letter to the local school superintendent stating the reasons why they believe there has been a violation of state law or the rules of the Georgia Board of Education in making the disciplinary decision and asking that a formal hearing be held.
If you request a formal hearing, here is what will happen:
1. The local board will tell you and the school when and where the hearing will take place.
2. The local board will give anyone who has to be at the hearing (such as witnesses or anyone involved in the disciplinary decision) a document called a “subpoena”, which is an order that the person has to come to the hearing.
3. The hearing will be recorded, either electronically or by a court reporter.
4. At the hearing, anyone who makes an official statement or is asked questions must be under oath.
5. Each side will have the opportunity to ask questions of each witness.
What if the school board refuses to let me have a formal hearing?
If a local school board refuses to grant a formal hearing or doesn’t follow the proper rules, parents should consult with a private attorney about how to proceed, because the Georgia Board of Education, Georgia School Superintendent, and the Georgia Department of Education cannot make the local school board hold a hearing, only a court can do that.
What happens after the formal hearing?
After the hearing, the local board of education must make a decision and let the parties know what it is within 15 days.
What if I still disagree?
GEORGIA ELL & DISCIPLINE PARENT GUIDE
The local board must also let you know that you have the right to appeal its decision to the Georgia Board of Education if you still disagree. If you want to appeal again, you must again file a written request for an appeal with the local school superintendent within 30 days of the decision. This request must say:
1. What the dispute is about;
2. What the decision of the local school board was; and
3. Why that decision was wrong.
When the local school superintendent gets the new appeal he or she will give it to the Georgia School Superintendent within 10 days, along with the official decision of the local school board and the recording of the formal hearing that was held. From there, the Georgia School Superintendent will take over and let the parties know what they should do next. See Board Rule § 160-1-3.04.
- What is detention and when is it permitted?
Are there specific state laws about detention?
No. Detention policies are covered in each school district’s student Code of Conduct and other discipline policies.
SUSPENSION AND EXPULSION
- What is the difference between suspension and expulsion?
Student is not permitted to attend his or her regular school for a period of less than 10 school days in a row.
Student is not permitted to attend his or her regular school for a period of more than 10 school days in a row but less than the remaining time in the school quarter or semester.
Student is not permitted to attend his or her regular school for more than the remaining time in the school quarter or semester.
See O.C.G.A. § 20-2-751.1.
- Under what circumstances can a student be suspended?
Whenever possible, the school should try to put disruptive students in alternative educational settings instead of suspending or expelling them.
If a student commits a “first level” act of physical violence (intentionally making aggressive physical contact) against a teacher, school bus driver, school official, or school employee, he or she must serve at least short-term suspension, and may be required to serve a long-term suspension or be expelled, depending on the circumstances around the improper behavior.
If a student commits a “second level” act of physical violence (intentionally making aggressive physical contact which causes physical harm to someone) against a teacher, school bus driver, school official, or school employee, the student must be expelled from the public school system for the rest of the years the student would have attended public school. The school district may choose whether to allow the student to attend an alternative school for the remaining years the student would have attended public school. If the student committed the second level act of physical violence while he or she was in kindergarten through eighth grade, the school district may choose to allow the student to return to public school for ninth through twelfth grade. See O.C.G.A. § 20-2-751.6
If a student brings a firearm to school, the student must be expelled from school for at least one calendar year. See O.C.G.A. § 20-2-751.1.
ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES
- Is there a “zero-tolerance” policy?
Is there a zero tolerance policy?
It depends on the school district. There are no state laws or regulations defining “zero tolerance,” but the local school district may choose to have zero tolerance policies. If the school district does have zero tolerance policies, they will be in the student discipline policies.
DRESS CODE AND UNIFORM
- Does Georgia have a dress code or school uniforms policy?
Does Georgia have a dress code or school uniforms policy?
The state of Georgia does not have a state-wide dress code policy. Each local board of education is responsible for creating and enforcing guidelines regarding dress codes. School uniforms may be required if the local board of education decides to have them
- Is Corporal punishment at schools permitted?
Is corporal punishment at schools permitted?
It depends on the local school district. Each district is responsible for determining whether and when corporal punishment is an appropriate means of discipline.
Is there a state policy on bullying?
Yes! Georgia is serious about stopping bullying at schools. Bullying means:
- Any intentional attempt to injure another person or any threat to do so if it is clear the person making the threat could in fact injure the victim;
- Any intentional display of force that gives the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm; or
- Any intentional written, verbal, or physical act that gives a reasonable person reason to think the person doing so intended to threaten, harass, or intimidate the victim, if the bully’s action:
- Causes the victim substantial physical harm or visible bodily harm;
- Substantially interfering with a student’s education;
- Is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment; or Substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school.
- Any severe or continuous physical or verbal act, including writings, that is likely to:
- Create a fear of harm to a person or his or her property;
- Cause substantial harm to a student’s physical or mental health;
- Substantially interfere with a student’s academic performance; or
- Substantially interfere with a student’s education.
Does each school have to have a policy against bullying?
Yes. Each school must develop and post in the school the following:
1. A written policy prohibiting bullying;
2. A requirement that any teacher or other school employee who reasonably suspects that someone is a target of bullying shall immediately report it to the school principal;
3. A requirement that each school have a procedure for the school administration to promptly investigate in a timely manner and determine whether bullying has occurred;
4. An age-appropriate range of consequences for bullying which shall include, at minimum and without limitation, disciplinary action or counseling as appropriate under the circumstances;
5. A procedure for a teacher or other school employee, student, parent, guardian, or other person who has control or charge of a student, and anonymously if that person chooses, to report or otherwise provide information on bullying activity; and
6. A statement prohibiting retaliation following a report of bullying.
Any student guilty of bullying three times in the same school year must be transferred to an alternative school. ee O.C.G.A. § 20.2.751.4