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  • What are the types of suspension and under what circumstances can a student be suspended?

    Suspension is exclusion from school for a period of from 1 to 10 consecutive school days

    Suspensions may be given by the principal or the person in charge of the public school


    Suspension process:

    A student may not be suspended until the student has been told ofthe reasons for the suspension and given an opportunity to respond.  However, prior notice of the intendedsuspension does not have to be given when it is clear that the health, safetyor welfare of the school community is threatened.

    The parents or guardians and the superintendent of the districtshall be notified immediately in writing when the student is suspended. Whenthe suspension exceeds 3 school days, the student and parent shall be giventhe opportunity for an informal hearing consistent with the requirements in 22 Pa. Code § 12.8(c).

    Suspensions may not be made to run consecutively beyond the 10school day period.

    Students are responsible for making upexams and work missed while being disciplined by suspension and will be allowedto complete assignments within guidelines established by the governing board.



  • Does Pennsylvania allow schools to have a zero tolerance policy?

    Pennsylvania law gives governing boards flexibility to determine their own “zero tolerance” policies.

    “Zero tolerance” of a behavior by a school means that the school’s response is pre-determined and required and includes severe consequences or punishment (most often suspension or expulsion) for a specific offense.

    In one instance, the board of school directors was found to have exceeded its authority in adopting its ‘‘zero tolerance policy,’’ where the policy failed to provide the superintendent with discretion to recommend a modification to the policy’s 1-year expulsion requirement for possession of a weapon.   (Lyons v. Penn Hills School District, 723 A.2d 1073 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1999); appeal denied 740 A.2d 235 (Pa. 1999)) 


  • Under what circumstances can a student be expelled?

    Expulsion is exclusion from school by the governing board for a period exceeding 10 school days and may be permanent. The governing board defines and publishes the types of offenses that would lead to exclusion from school. (22 Pa. Code § 12.6)

    Expulsion process:

    Expulsions require a prior formal hearing. (22 Pa. Code § 12.8)

    During the time before the hearing and decision of the governingboard in an expulsion case, the student shall be placed in his or her normalclass. 

    • Exception: if it isdetermined after an informal hearing that a student’s presence in his or hernormal class would be a threat to the health, safety or welfare of others andit is not possible to hold a formal hearing within the period of asuspension, the student may be excluded from school for more than 10 schooldays. A student may not be excluded from school for longer than 15 schooldays without a formal hearing unless mutually agreed upon by both parties.Any student who is excluded shall be provided with alternative education,which may include home study.

    Students who are under 17 years of age are still subject to requiredschool attendance even though expelled and shall be provided an education. (22 Pa. Code § 12.6(e))

    The initial responsibility for providing the required education restswith the student’s parents or guardians, through placement in another school,tutorial or correspondence study, or another educational program approved bythe Superintendent of the District. (22 Pa. Code § 12.6(e)(1))

    Within 30 days of action by the school board, the parents orguardians must submit to the District written evidence that the requirededucation is being provided as described above or that they are unable to doso. If the parents or guardians are unable to provide the required education,the school, within 10 days of receipt of the notification, will makeprovisions for the student’s education. A student with a disability shall beprovided educational services as required by the Individuals WithDisabilities Education Act. (22 Pa. Code § 12.6(e)(2))

    If the approved educational program is not complied with, the schoolmay take action to ensure that the child will receive a proper education. (22 Pa. Code § 12.6(e)(3))


  • Can Pennsylvania schools create dress codes rules?

    While not required to do so, school boards in Pennsylvania may implement dress codes. Under Pennsylvania law, school boards may require students to wear a school uniform. (22 Pa. Code § 12.11(a))

    Students have the right to govern the length and style of their hair. Any school limitation of this right must include evidence that the length or style causes disruption of the educational process or constitutes a health or safety hazard. (22 Pa. Code § 12.5(b))


  • What is “Bullying”?

    Pennsylvania law includes an anti-bullying provision. 24 PS 13-1303.1A (2009)

    According to the above statute, “bullying” means an intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical “act,” or a series of “acts”, where the “acts”:

    • are directed at another student or students
    • occur in a school setting( in the school, on school grounds, in school vehicles, at a designated bus stop or at any activity sponsored, supervised or sanctioned by the school)
    • are severe, constant or all-encompassing or
    • have the effect of doing any of the following:
      • substantially interfering with a student’s education
      • creating a threatening environment
      • substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school 


  • Who is considered an ELL?

    According to federal law (20 U.S.C. § 7801(25)), an English Language Learner is a student:

    • was not born in the United States or whose native language is other than English and comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant;
    • is a Native American or Alaska Native who is a native resident of the outlying areas and comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on such an individual’s level of English language proficiency; or
    • is migratory and whose native language is other than English and comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; and
      • has sufficient difficulty speaking, reading, writing or understanding the English language and whose difficulties may prevent the student from learning successfully in classrooms where the language of instruction is English or to participate fully in our society.


  • Process for the identification of ELLs

    Process for the identification of ELLs:

    – Administer the Home Language Survey to all students in the Districtfor the first time

    – Students must be placed in a grade level that is age-appropriate (Highschools will make placements based on transcript evaluations)

    – For students who qualify as students whose primary or home language isother than English (PHLOTE), assess students using the WIDA ACCESS PlacementTest (W-APT);

    – New ELL Data must be entered into the School Computer Network (SCN)S21 screen by the English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher,including W-APT results; and

    – Parents will be notified of the placement.

  • What instructional programs are available for ELL students?

    Every school district in Pennsylvania must provide a program for each student whose dominant language is not English facilitate the student’s achievement in English proficiency and the academic standards required by Pennsylvania law. (22 Pa. Code § 4.26)


  • What is ability grouping?

    Pennsylvania law requires that children with disabilities shall be provided an education which enables them to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum. (22 Pa. Code § 4.28)

    Students who are gifted shall be provided an education that enables them to participate in acceleration or enrichment, or both, as appropriate. (22 Pa. Code § 4.28)

  • Gifted & Talented Programs
    • Each school district identifies students within that district who are thought to be gifted and in need of specially designed instruction.  (22 Pa. Code § 16.21(a))
    • Pennsylvania law defines “mentally gifted” as “outstanding intellectual and creative ability the development of which requires specially designed programs or support services, or both, not ordinarily provided in the regular education program.”  (22 Pa. Code § 16.1)
    • Pennsylvania law requires students who are gifted to be provided an education that enables them to participate in acceleration or enrichment, or both, as appropriate, and to receive services according to their intellectual and academic abilities and needs. (22 Pa. Code §§ 4.28, 16.2)
    • The term “mentally gifted” includes a person who has an IQ of 130 or higher, when multiple criteria as set forth in the Department Guidelines indicate gifted ability. Determination of gifted ability will not be based on IQ score alone. The determination shall include an assessment by a certified school psychologist. A person with an IQ score lower than 130 may be admitted to gifted programs when other educational criteria in the profile of the person strongly indicates gifted ability. (22 Pa. Code § 16.21(d))
  • Identification of Special Education Needs

    Each Pennsylvania school district is required to:

    • adopt and use a public outreach awareness system to locate and identify children thought to be eligible for special education within the school district’s jurisdiction;
    • conduct awareness activities to inform the public of its early intervention and special education services and programs and the manner in which to request services and programs; and
    • provide annual public notification, published or announced in newspapers or other media, or both, with circulation adequate to notify parents throughout the school district of child identification activities and of the procedures followed to ensure confidentiality of information pertaining to students with disabilities or eligible young children.

    Disability or Special Education Needs Identification Process:

    Initial Screening – Identify and provide initial screening of students to identify any withacademic, social/emotional or sensory (vision/hearing) or speech/languagedifficulties. The hearing and vision screening are to be conducted inaccordance with Section 1402 of the Public School Code of 1949 (24 Pa. Code § 14.1402)for the purpose of identifying students with hearing or vision difficulty

    Peer Support –assistance for teachers and other staff members to assist them in workingeffectively with students in the general education curriculum.

  • Common Core Standards
    • Pennsylvania adopted the Common Core State Standards for English, language, arts, and mathematics. The standards for K-12 were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. They are based on the idea that all students should have certain education and skills within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in work-force training programs.
    • The English language arts standards cover reading –literature, information text and foundational skills -­as well as speaking and listening, writing, and language.
    • At the high school level, the standards address reading, history and social studies as well as science and technical material. However, they don’t address particular content students should master in those areas.
    • The math standards are divided by grade level from kindergarten through eighth grade. For high school, the standards cover six areas: number and quantity, algebra, functions, modeling, geometry and statistics and probability. In addition to grade-level standards, the common core includes a section called “Standards for Mathematical Practice.” Those standards include five practices: making sense of problems and persevering in solving them, reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, making viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others, modeling with math and using appropriate tools strategically.
    • The Common Core State Standards are available at:

    Pennsylvania law establishes the minimum requirements for graduation from Pennsylvania high schools. (22 Pa. Code § 4.24)

    Through the 2013-2014 school year:

    Each school district, including a charter schools, shall specify requirements for graduation, which must include:

    • Course completion and grades.
    • Completion of a culminating project.
    • Results of local assessments aligned with the academic standards.
    • Demonstration of proficiency in Reading, Writing and Mathematics on either the State assessments administered in grade 11 or 12 or local assessment aligned with academic standards and State assessments at the proficient level or better to graduate.

    Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year:

    Each school district and Area Vocational Technical School (AVTS), including charter schools, shall specify requirements for high school graduation, which must include:

    • Course completion and grades.
    • Completion of a culminating project in one or more areas of concentrated study under the guidance and direction of the high school faculty.
    • Demonstration of proficiency as determined by the school district or AVTS, including charter schools, in each of the State academic standards not assessed by a State assessment.
    • Demonstration of proficiency or above in each of the following State academic standards: Reading, Writing and Mathematics; Science and Technology; and Environment and Ecology, as determined through any one or a combination of the following:
      • Successful completion of secondary level coursework in English Composition, Literature, Algebra I and Biology in which a Keystone Exam serves as the course final exam.
        • A student’s Keystone Exam score shall count as one-third of the final course grade.
        • A school district or AVTS, including a charter school, may, at its discretion, elect to have the Keystone Exam count for more than one-third of the course grade.
        • A school district or AVTS, including a charter school, at its discretion, may allow students who score at the advanced level on a particular Keystone Exam prior to taking the course to be granted course credit for the course without having to complete the course.
        • Locally approved and administered, independently validated assessments (which shall be independently and objectively validated once every 6 years in conjunction with submission of the school district’s strategic plan).
          • Local assessments may be designed to include a variety of assessment strategies and may include the use of one or more Keystone Exams.
        • Advanced placement or international baccalaureate exams that include academic content comparable to the appropriate Keystone Exam at a score established by the Secretary to be comparable to the proficient level on the appropriate Keystone Exam.
          • Successful completion of an advanced placement course and test may be used for one or more of the courses required for graduation without the student being required to take the related Keystone Exam.
          • Successful completion of an international baccalaureate program and tests may be used for one or more of the courses required for graduation without the student being required to take the related Keystone Exam or local assessment.

    Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year:

    • History and Civics and Government are added to the academic standards in which the students must demonstrate proficiency or above.
    • In addition, students must complete secondary level coursework in which a Keystone Exam serves as the course final exam in English Composition and Literature; two of three Mathematics (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II), one of two Sciences (Biology or Chemistry), and one of three Social Studies (American History, Civics and Government or World History).

    Helpful documents or links

    Pennsylvania statute regarding graduation, available at: