Click on a heading to expand or collapse that heading’s content.

To download this information as a PDF

Please click here.

Who has the overall discipline authority in schools?

School administrators and local school boards have authority to discipline, suspend and expel students.  N.J.S.A. 18A:37-1, et seq.

What type of discipline is permitted?

Disciplinary responses are established by each school district and included in each district’s code of student conduct.  The types of discipline must vary according to the severity of the offenses and must be consistent with New Jersey law.  N.J.C.A. 6A:16-7.1.

Some examples of common disciplinary actions include:

Not allowing the student to participate in extracurricular activities, schools functions and/or sports or graduation ceremonies;

Removing the student from the classroom/detention;

In-school or out-of-school suspension;


See Advocates for Children of New Jersey Education FAQs at:

What is detention and when is it permitted?

Detention policies can be found in each local school district’s codes of conduct or student handbooks. Parents should carefully review their local school district’s code of conduct to determine their district’s policies on detention.

What is the difference between suspension and expulsion?

Short-term suspension, long-term suspension, and expulsion are defined by New Jersey law, Subchapter 6A:16-1.3, Administrative Code of New Jersey.

Short-term suspension means removal of a student for 10 continuous school days or fewer, but the student’s access to all educational services (including classroom instruction, school lunch services, health services, counseling services, etc.) provided by the school will continue.

Long-term suspension means removal of a student for more than 10 continuous school days, but the student’s educational services continue.

Expulsion means the student’s educational services will end or the payment of educational services for a student will end.

When can a student be suspended or expelled?

Behavior that leads to suspension or expulsion includes:

Continued and willful (deliberate and voluntary) disobedience;

Open defiance of (not listening to) the authority of any teacher or other person having authority over the student;

Behavior that puts the physical well-being of other students in danger;

Physically assaulting another student;


Damaging or attempting to damage school property;

Occupying or causing others to occupy the school building without permission;

Incitement (or encouraging others) which results in unauthorized occupation by any group of students or others of any part of a school or other facility owned by any school district;

Incitement (or encouraging others) intended to and resulting in truancy (intentional unauthorized absence from schooling) by other students;

Possessing, using, or being under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol in the school building or on school grounds;

Harassment, intimidation, or bullying;

Trying to injure or injuring another student, a teacher, someone who works for the school, or a school board member;

Conviction or being found guilty for possession of a gun, or committing a crime while armed with a gun on school property, on a school bus, or at a school function;

Knowingly possessing a gun while on school property, on a school bus, or at a school function.

N.J.S.A. 18A:37-218A:37-2.1; 18A:37-8.

What are the types of suspension and the processes for each?

Short-term Suspension (Suspension of 10 days or less) – N.J.C.A. 6A:16-7.2

Informal Hearing: An informal hearing must be led by a school administrator or another designated person before the suspension may begin.  During the hearing, the student has the opportunity to present his or her version of events leading to the short-term suspension.  The informal hearing should take place even when a school staff member has witnessed the behavior which caused the suspension.

Removal of Student if he or she still Poses Danger or Threat: If the student’s presence poses a continuing danger or an ongoing threat to the educational process, the student may be immediately removed from the student’s educational program and the informal hearing must be held soon after the suspension.

The School Must Provide Notice: The parent must receive oral or written notice of the student’s removal before the end of the school day on which the school administrator makes the decision to suspend the student, including:

the specific charges,

the facts on which the charges are based,

the part of the code of student conduct the student is accused of violating,

the student’s due process rights (legal rights and protections to ensure a fair determination), and

the terms and conditions of the suspension.

Appropriate Supervision: The student must receive appropriate supervision while waiting for the student’s parent to pick up the student from school during the school day.

Report Suspension to Chief School Administrator: The principal must immediately report the suspension to the chief school administrator, who is required to report it to the district board of education at its next regular meeting.

Long-term Suspension (Suspension of more than 10 days) and Expulsion – N.J.C.A. 6A:16-7.3

The School Must Immediately Notify the Student of the Charges: The school must immediately give the student written notice of the charges before removing the student from school.

The School Must Hold Informal Hearing: An informal hearing must be held before the suspension in which the student has the opportunity to present the student’s version of events leading to the long-term suspension.

The School Must Give Immediate Notice: The parent must receive immediate notice of the student’s removal from school.

Appropriate Supervision: The student must receive appropriate supervision while waiting for the student’s parent to pick up the student from school during the school day.

The Chief School Administrator Must Provide Notice: Within two school days of the suspension, the chief school administrator or a  designated person must provide written notice to the parents stating:

the specific charges,

the facts on which the charges are based,

the student’s due process rights (legal rights and protections to ensure a fair determination), and

if the student further engages in conduct that would lead to expulsion, he or she may have knowingly and voluntarily give up his or her right to a free public education.

District School Board Must Request Written Acknowledgment: The district school board of education must request written acknowledgment of the notice from the parents and the student after the student’s removal.

Formal Hearing: A formal hearing with the district board of education must occur within 30 days after the student has been suspended.  The hearing is led by the district board of education or by a board committee, a school administrator or a neutral hearing officer to determine facts or make recommendations.

At least five days before the formal hearing, the student must be provided a list of witnesses and their statements or affidavits, if any.

The formal hearing must include an opportunity for the student to challenge and cross-examine witnesses and present his or her own defense.

The School Must Provide Written Statement: The parents are provided a written statement with the board of education’s decision within five school days after the closing of the hearing.

What is the procedure for appealing a suspension/expulsion?

Who May Appeal: A student has the right to appeal the discipline decision of a school administrator or board of education to the Commissioner of Education, the state board of education, and court.

The child’s parent or legal guardian must file the appeal petition if the child is under 18 years old.  N.J.A.C. 6A:3-1.3(a)(2).

Time to Appeal: An appeal must be made to the Commissioner of Education within 90 days of the school board’s decision.  N.J.A.C. 6A:3-1.3(i).

Steps for Appeal:

(1) An unfavorable decision is first appealed to the Commissioner of Education within 90 days of the decision.  N.J.A.C. 6A:3-1.3(i).

(2) The Commissioner’s decision is the final  decision that, if unfavorable, may be appealed to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division within 45 days of the decision.  N.J.S.A. 18A:6-9.1

Petition of Appeal: A party seeking to appeal the board’s decision must prepare a petition of appeal and deliver this petition to the board of education imposing the discipline.  The party must then file a copy of the proof of service, along with the original petition, with the commissioner at:  State Commissioner of Education, c/o Director of Bureau of Controversies and Disputes, New Jersey State Department of Education, P.O. Box 500, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0500.   N.J.C.A. 6A:3-1.3(f).

A petition must contain the specific charges and facts supporting those charges, explaining why the party appealing is arguing the school board’s decision.

The local board of education will have 20 days from the date the petition is served (delivered to them) to respond. Once the response is served and filed with the Commissioner, the case is scheduled for a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ), who makes the first decision within 45 days of the hearing.

More information and a sample appeal petition can be found in the Education Law Center’s Student Discipline and Procedures Guide.

What does “zero tolerance” mean?

“Zero tolerance” policies punish all offenses, regardless of the individual student’s circumstances, motive or intent, or the actual harm caused by the offense. Student Discipline Rights and Procedures, Education Law Center (2004), available at:

Does New Jersey have a “zero tolerance” policy?

New Jersey’s “Zero Tolerance for Guns Act” requires schools to immediately remove students for a minimum of one year who are found to have possessed a firearm at school, on a school bus, or at a school function, or who have been convicted, or found delinquent, of a firearm offense while at school, on a school bus, or at a school function.  N.J.S.A. 18A:37-8.

Parents should carefully review their local school district’s code of conduct to find out if their district has additional “zero tolerance” rules.

Is corporal punishment at schools permitted?

No.   Under New Jersey law, school staff may not use physical force to discipline a student.  N.J.S.A. 18A:6-1.

Exception – The law does permit the use of force if it is reasonable and necessary:

to stop a disturbance that could physically hurt someone;

to take  weapons or other dangerous objects from a student;

for self-defense; and

to protect people or property.  N.J.S.A. 18A:6-1.

Is there a state policy on bullying? 

Yes.  New Jersey’s anti-bullying law is called the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (ABR) and became law in January 2011.  The ABR includes requirements that public school districts and schools, including charter schools, must follow in preventing and responding to harassment, intimidation, and bullying.

A copy of the ABR is available on the New Jersey Legislature’s website at:


The ABR defines harassment, intimidation, and bullying as:

Any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or a series of incidents, that is reasonably seen as being motivated either by an actual or perceived characteristics, such as:

Race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory disability or by any other distinguishing characteristics; and that

Takes place on school property, at a school-sponsored event, on a school bus, or off school grounds, that substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students; and that

A reasonable person should know will end up physically or emotionally harming a student or damaging the student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm to his person or damage to his property; or

Has the effect of insulting or demeaning any student or group of student; or

Creates a hostile educational environment for the student by interfering with a student’s education or by severely or pervasively causing physical or emotional harm to the student. N.J.S.A. 18A:37-14.

Bullying can be direct (e.g., hitting, teasing, name-calling) or indirect (e.g., excluding from activities) and includes cyber-bullying (e.g., sending insulting or embarrassing e-mail, text messages or photos/video to the student or others about the student).

Schools and school districts have a duty to prevent and investigate bullying by:

appointing a school anti-bullying specialist N.J.S.A. 18A:37-20a;

appointing a district anti-bullying coordinator N.J.S.A. 18A:37-20b;

creating a school safety team or school anti-bullying team, including the anti-bullying specialist, the principal, a teacher, a parent, and other members determined by the principal N.J.S.A. 18A:37-21;

developing an anti-bullying policy that includes the ABR requirements and is approved by the board of education N.J.S.A. 18A:37-15;

including parents and other groups when creating an anti-bullying policy N.J.S.A. 18A:37-15a;

distributing the policy N.J.S.A. 18A:37-15b(11);

implementing anti-bullying prevention programs N.J.S.A. 18A:37-17a;

providing training to school staff members, volunteers, contractors, leaders, and board of education members on preventing and responding to bullying N.J.S.A. 18A:37-17b;

publicly reporting bullying incidents N.J.S.A. 18A:17-46;

posting the district’s anti-bullying grade, as assigned by the NJ DOE, on websites N.J.S.A 18A:17-46.


For additional resources and information on bullying:

What is hazing?

Hazing is behavior that is based on a tradition and is used by members of a group to maintain a hierarchy or “pecking order” within the group.  The lower group member or people who want to join the group may agree and go along with the hazing, which may be physically, psychologically, or socially harmful.  Newcomers let themselves get treated that way to be accepted as members of the group.  Guidance for Parents on the Anti-Bullying Bill of Right Act, New Jersey State Department of Education (2012), available at:

Is there a state policy on hazing?

Hazing is considered a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey.  N.J.S.A. 2C:40-3.  When serious bodily injury results, the offense is “aggravated hazing”, which is a crime of the fourth degree.  N.J.S.A. 2C:40-3.

Hazing may also be considered bullying.

Are there dress code requirements for schools?

In New Jersey, a board of education may write a dress code policy to require students to wear a school uniform if the policy is requested by the principal, staff and parents of a school and if the board determines that the policy will “enhance the school learning environment.”  N.J.S.A. 18A: 11-8.

The school board must hold a public hearing before adopting the policy and must provide at least three months’ notice to parents or guardians of the students.  The principal, staff, and parents of students at individual schools will choose the uniform.   N.J.S.A. 18A: 11-8.

The board may provide a method where parents can choose not to follow the school uniform policy. Students who choose not to wear uniforms may not be penalized academically or discriminated against or denied admittance to school if the students’ parents choose not to follow the school uniform policy.  N.J.S.A. 18A:11-8.


The dress code policy must not prevent students who participate in a nationally recognized youth organization that is approved by the board of education from wearing organization uniforms to schools on days that the organization has scheduled a meeting.  N.J.S.A. 18A: 11-8.

A board of education may write a dress code policy to prohibit students from wearing, while on school property, any gang-related clothingN.J.S.A. 18A:11-9.

Can school uniforms be required?

Yes.  Under New Jersey law, school districts may adopt a dress code policy that requires students to wear a school uniform.  N.J.S.A. 18A:11-8.
Who is considered an ELL (English Language Learner)?

In New Jersey, “limited English proficient (LEP) students” are students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 whose native language is something other than English and who have difficulty speaking, reading, writing or understanding the English language as measured by an English language proficiency test.  Due to their limited English ability, LEP students do not have the opportunity to learn successfully in the classrooms where the language of instruction is English.  N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.4.

A student’s native language is the language first used by the student, the language most often spoken by the student, or the language most often spoken in the student’s home. ..

Free and Appropriate Public Education: The district board of education must ensure that all LEP/ELL students are provided a free, appropriate public education and that their rights are protected by providing them with bilingual education and related services.  N.J.A.C. 6A: 15-1.1.

Notification to Parents:

The parents’ of a student eligible for a bilingual, ESL, or English language services  program must be notified by the school district in writing in the parents’ primary language and in English.

Each district board must also send progress reports to parents of students enrolled in bilingual, ESL, or English language services programs written in English and the native language of the parents.

Finally, district boards must notify parents when students are ready to be placed in a program where English is the only language used.  N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.13.

What is the assessment test used for ELL? What are the procedures for the test?

Screening Procedures: The district board of education must determine the native language of each LEP student at the time of a student’s enrollment, maintain a list of all identified students whose native language is not English; and develop a screening process through a home-language survey, to determine which students must be tested to determine English language proficiency.  This screening must be conducted by a bilingual/ESL or other certified teacher.  N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.3(a)

English Language Proficiency Assessment: The district board of education must determine the English language proficiency of all kindergarten through 12th-grade students who are not screened out and whose native language is not English by:

giving the student a Department-approved English language proficiency test;

measuring students’ level of reading in English;

reviewing the previous academic performance of students, including their performance on standardized tests in English; and

reviewing the advice of teaching staff members responsible for the educational program for LEP students.  N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.3(b).

Students who do not meet the Department standard on a Department-approved language proficiency test and who have at least one other indicator will be considered students of limited English proficiency (LEP).  N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.3(b).

Preschool students: The district board of education must also use age-appropriate methods to identify LEP preschool students in order to determine their individual language development needs.  N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.3(b).

What instructional programs are available for ELLs?

Generally: The district board of education must provide all kindergarten to 12th grade LEP students with all required courses and support to prepare them to meet the Core Curriculum Content Standards for high school graduation.

Additional services may include: tutoring, after school programs, summer programs and remedial services as needed by LEP students.

Preschool Students: All district boards of education must also provide appropriate learning programs to eligible preschool LEP students based on the child’s needs according to the New Jersey Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality (2004).  N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.4(a).

The district board of education must create English language services designed to improve the English language proficiency of LEP Students whenever there are between one and 10 LEP students enrolled within the schools of the district.  English language services must be in addition to the regular school program. N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.4(b). 

The district board of education must create an ESL program that provides up to two periods of ESL instruction based on student language proficiency whenever there are 10 or more LEP students enrolled in the district.

District boards are required to develop and adopt an ESL curriculum that follows the most current version of “WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards.”

The ESL curriculum must be compared to the district’s bilingual education and content area curricula to make sure that ESL instruction is in line with the content areas being taught. N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.4 (c)

The district board of education must establish bilingual education programs whenever there are 20 or more LEP students in any on language classification enrolled in the district. Bilingual education programs shall:

be designed to prepare LEP students to learn English skills and content knowledge to meet the Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS);

include a curriculum that follows the CCCS, the WIDA English language development standards, and the use of two languages; and

include all of the required courses and activities offered to all students within the school district.  N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.4(d)

LEP students must be provided with equal instructional opportunities to participate in all non-academic courses needed to meet the CCCS, including health and physical education, the visual and performing arts, and career awareness programs.  N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.4(e).

In addition to these, district boards shall design additional programs and services to meet the special needs of eligible LEP students, including, but not limited to: remedial instruction through Title I programs; special education; school-to-work programs; computer training; and gifted and talented education services.  N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.4(g).

Parent Involvement

Parents of LEP students must be allowed the maximum possible involvement in the development and review of the goals of the bilingual, ESL or English language services education program.

Each district board of education creating a bilingual education program must create a parent advisory committee on bilingual education. The majority of members on the advisory committee must be parent(s) of LEP students.  N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.15.

ELL Rules and Regulations

New Jersey code on Bilingual Education:

State Board of Education Bilingual/ESL 3-Year Program Plan:

Helpful Resources

New Jersey Department of Education, Bilingual Education at: New Jersey English Language Proficiency Standards at:

Does the state have any state policy on ability grouping?

New Jersey tracks students through special education (described below), bilingual education (described above), and gifted and talented programs (described below).

Special Education Requirements

Free and Appropriate Special Education: Each district board of education is responsible for providing a system of free, appropriate special education and related services to students with disabilities age 3 through 21, which should be free and located in facilities that are accessible to the disabled, and run by appropriately certified and qualified staff members.  N.J.A.C. 6A: 14-1.1(d).

For more information on New Jersey’s Special Education Requirements, see:

New Jersey Department of Education Parental Rights in Special Education (last updated September 2012):

Right to Special Education in New Jersey:

Advocates for Children of New Jersey Basic Guide to Special Education:

Does the state guarantee students access to any specific classes or quality of classes (e.g., college prep, etc.)?

New Jersey has minimum requirements that shall be provided to every student, and that all students receive appropriate standards-based education.  See Common Core Standards below.

Does the state require schools to have Gifted & Talented programs?  Are there any admission requirements?

All New Jersey public schools must have a board-approved gifted and talented program for K-12 students.  District boards must create an ongoing process for identifying gifted and talented students that includes multiple measures, including: achievement test scores, grades, student performance or products, intelligence testing, parent, student, and/or teacher recommendation, and other appropriate measures.  N.J.A.C. 6A:8-3.1.

Gifted and talented students are “those students who possess or demonstrate high levels of ability, in one or more content areas, when compared to their chronological peers in the local school district and who require modifications of their educational program if they are to achieve in accordance with their capabilities.”  N.J.A.C. 6A:8-1.3.

District boards must consider the PreK-Grade 12 Gifted Program Standards of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) in creating programs for gifted and talented students.  N.J.A.C. 6A:8-3.1.

The PreK-Grade 12 NAGC Standards can be found here.

There is no state-level criteria for giftedness. Specific tests are not required to identify gifted and talented students.

However, local schools districts must use identification techniques that are developmentally appropriate, non-discriminatory, and related to the programs and services offered. For example, they must use a math achievement to identify students for a math program.

For more information about Gifted and Talented Programs in New Jersey, see:

New Jersey Department of Education on Gifted and Talented Requirements at

Has the state adopted the Common Core State Standards?

The New Jersey State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010. The standards were fully implemented into classroom instruction during the 2013-2014 school year.

Prior State Standards: New Jersey has had state standards since the 1990s, called the Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS), specifying expectations in 9 academic content areas.  Upon voluntarily adopting the Common Core Standards in 2010, New Jersey replaced the CCCS ELA and math standards with the Common Core versions.

New Jersey maintains its Core Curriculum Content Standards in the remaining 7 content areas, including: visual and performing arts; comprehensive health and physical education; science; social studies; world languages; technology; and 21st century life and careers.

Development of the Standards: The Common Core State Standards were developed by teachers, school administrators, and national experts to make sure all students graduate ready for success in college and career.

What are Common Core State Standards?

Common Core Standards define grade-level expectations from kindergarten through high school for what students should know and be able to do in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics to be successful in college and careers.

Common Core Standards are not a curriculum. New Jersey’s local school districts maintain the responsibility to develop curricula that will assist teachers in ensuring that students meet the Common Core State Standards. Local school districts also make all decisions regarding textbooks, reading lists, and lesson plans.

Helpful Common Core resources:

Resources for parents about Common Core Standards at each grade level can be found here.

A 3 minute video explaining the Common Core Standards can be found here (English and Spanish versions available).

For other information about New Jersey’s Common Core and Core Curriculum Content Standards in general, visit the New Jersey Department of Education website.

Graduation Requirements

New Jersey requires district boards of education to develop, adopt, and implement local requirements for a State-endorsed diploma.  N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1 .  To earn a state-endorsed diploma, a student must enroll in a local program of study with at least 120 credits in courses designed to meet all of the Core Curriculum Content Standards, including, but not limited to, the following credits:

English Language Arts – at least 20 credits aligned to grade 9 to 12 standards

Math  at least 15 credits, including algebra I (effective with the 2008-2009 9th grade class), geometry (effective with the 2010-2011 9th grade class), and a third year of math that builds upon algebra I and geometry and prepares students for college and 21st century careers (effective with the 2012-2013 9th grade class)

Science – at least 15 credits, including laboratory biology (effective with the 2008-2009 9th grade class); chemistry, environmental science, or physics (effective with the 2010-2011 9th grade class); and an additional lab/inquiry-based science (effective with the 2012-2013 9th grade class)

Social Studies – at least 15 credits, including world history and the integration of civics, economics, geography, and global content within course offerings

Economics – at least 2.5 credits in financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy (effective with the 2010-2011 9th grade class)

Health, Safety, and Physical Education – at least 3.75 credits each year

Visual and Performing Arts – at least 5 credits

World Languages – at least 5 credits or student demonstration of proficiency

Technology literacy

21st Century Life and Careers – at least 5 credits or career-technical education.

N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1

State Parent Information Resources

New Jersey State Parent Information & Resource Center (NJPIRC)

103 Church Street, Suite 210

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Telephone: 732-246-8060


Program Goals:

strengthen parents’ skill and understanding of how to support their child’s education in the home by increasing the availability of information on this topic for parents throughout NJ, and by increasing the availability of parent training, information and support programs in NJ, particularly in the Abbott or other high-needs districts;

Improve student achievement in NJ Abbott or other high needs school district throughout the state by providing training & technical assistance to strengthen and/or develop parental involvement policies, programs & activities;

increase parents’ skill and understanding of how to support the development of their child’s literacy skills by providing literacy training programs, particularly in disadvantaged areas in NJ;

improve parents’ understanding of the NJ accountability system and opportunities for supplemental services and public school choice;

further the developmental progress of disadvantaged/special needs children in NJ;

New Jersey State Department of Education

P.O. Box 500

Trenton, NJ 08625-0500

Telephone: 877-900-6960


New Jersey State Board of Education

Telephone: 609-292-0739


New Jersey Parent Link (The Early Childhood, Parenting and Professional Resource Center)