Avoiding Disciplinary Placement in the Kentucky High School System

High school can be turbulent for students, each of whom is maturing, learning, and transitioning in roles and relationships. The challenges of high school in Kentucky and elsewhere aren't simply academic. The biggest challenges may not even be learning the rules to avoid high school academic misconduct charges. While high school academics can be rigorous, requiring effort and perseverance, meeting the school's behavioral expectations can be even more challenging. Conforming to the school's behavioral norms can be especially tricky when considering the challenges and temptations that peers present. No small wonder, then, that Kentucky high school officials will often initiate disciplinary charges against students to preserve school order and discourage disruptive behavior. School disciplinary charges, though, can result in more than just a slap on the wrist. School discipline can include suspension and placement in an alternative education program. Don't underestimate the risk and impact of alternative disciplinary placement. Retain premier school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento to defend disciplinary charges and preserve your student's traditional Kentucky high school placement. Your student's future is worth it.

Kentucky High School Discipline

Kentucky law requires high schools to discipline, suspend, and expel students when necessary to maintain the educational environment. Kentucky Revised Statute 158.150 requires each local school board to adopt a discipline policy. Under the statute, the discipline policy must provide for suspension or expulsion for students who either possess prescription drugs or controlled substances for the purpose of sale or distribution at the school or who commit physical assaults or batteries or abuse school personnel or other students at the school or a school function. Drugs and assaults, among many other forms of misconduct, can get your student kicked out of your student's Kentucky high school. But drugs and violence are only the state-mandated grounds for suspension or expulsion. Kentucky high schools add many other grounds for suspension or expulsion in their student codes of conduct. Suspension or expulsion is a real risk for Kentucky high school students. Students and even parents may mistakenly assume that high schools tolerate immaturity and growth, even a substantial degree of horsing around. But be wary if your student faces disciplinary charges. Suspension or expulsion may well be the school's goal.

Example Kentucky High School Disciplinary Codes

Kentucky Revised Statute 158.148 further requires each school district to adopt a student discipline code, including “the type of behavior expected from each student [and] the consequences of failure to obey the standards….” In these state-mandated codes, Kentucky high schools add all manner of misconduct forms to the state-mandated drugs and violence forms. School districts in Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, and other cities and regions adopt elaborate student codes of conduct governing their high school students. Those student codes of conduct can be so broad as to reach and prohibit much conduct that many high school students would consider to be customary, non-threatening, and inoffensive. Don't underestimate the willingness of high school officials to suspend your student for conduct that your student may have considered to be merely joking or horseplay and in which many high school students routinely engage. The Student-Parent Handbook for the Louisville Public Schools, for example, prohibits students from engaging in any of the following:

  • Possession, use, or distribution of drugs or alcohol
  • Possession or use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes
  • Possession of weapons, explosives, or facsimiles of weapons
  • Willful disobedience of reasonable requests from school officials
  • Violence, harassment, threats, intimidation, force, or coercion
  • Damaging or attempting to damage school property
  • Extorting money or other advantages from students
  • Public indecency or sexual conduct
  • Bullying
  • Sexual assault and attempts
  • Endangering students
  • Interfering with school purposes
  • Truancy or failure to attend classes and complete assignments
  • Profane or abusive language or gestures
  • Lewd, indecent, or offensive dress or demeanor
  • Misuse of electronic devices, including sexting
  • Inappropriate public displays of affection
  • Misuse of computers or the internet

Kentucky School Discipline Statistics

Official Kentucky school discipline statistics for the most recent available year show that about fifteen percent of all students, or nearly 100,000 students, suffered a behavioral incident in that year. Kentucky schools taught around 650,000 students but reported nearly 300,000 behavioral incidents, meaning that many of the nearly 100,000 students facing behavioral disciplinary charges were involved in more than one incident. About half of the nearly 100,000 students facing behavioral charges were involved in just one incident. But around 5,000 students were involved in more than ten incidents. Just over 60,000 of the 300,000 behavioral incidents resulted in out-of-school suspensions. Most of the rest of those 300,000 incidents resulted in in-school removals from regular instruction. About eighty percent of Kentucky behavioral incidents occur in the classroom. Another seven percent occur in school hallways and stairwells. The rest occur in smaller percentages in gymnasiums, cafeterias, restrooms, and other locations on and off school grounds. Lots of misconduct goes on in Kentucky high schools. Don't let your student get caught up in the net. Fight disciplinary charges effectively by retaining national school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento.

Kentucky Alternative Disciplinary Placement

When a Kentucky high school kicks a student out of school, the high school must generally provide the student with an alternative education program. Schools don't generally relieve themselves of the obligation to educate the student simply by kicking the student out of school. Instead, Kentucky Revised Statute 158.150 requires each local school board “that has expelled a student from the student's regular school setting” to “provide or assure that educational services are provided to the student in an appropriate alternative program or setting….” Only if the school board determines by clear and convincing evidence that the expelled student poses a threat to the safety of other students or school staff does the statute relieve the school from providing alternative education. Under Kentucky Revised Statute 158.150, threatening behavior relieving the school of the alternative education obligation includes physical assault, battery, or abuse of others, the threat of physical force, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the use, possession, sale, or transfer of drugs or alcohol, the carrying, possessing, or transfer of weapons or dangerous instruments, and any other endangering behavior.

Kentucky Alternative Education Programs

Kentucky regulations require school boards to establish specific policies for their alternative education programs. If your student faces a Kentucky alternative education placement, the school board's policy will state how your student will get there, who will develop your student's success plan, and how your student can transition back out of the program. Far better not to suffer an alternative placement at all. But Kentucky regulations do provide some process and assurances for what may happen if your student faces that formidable challenge. Under 704 Kentucky Administrative Regulation 19:002, the school board's alternative education policy must state:

  • The alternative program's purpose
  • The alternative program's eligibility criteria
  • The process the program will follow to accept entering students
  • That the student in the program must meet all state standards for graduation
  • The makeup of the team, including the student and parents that will develop the student's success plan in the program
  • How the alternative program collaborates with agencies, including courts or other social service agencies, involved with the student's involuntary placement
  • The process the program will follow to transition students out of the program

Kentucky Alternative High Schools

Kentucky has alternative high schools at many locations around the state, even if those locations may not be as close to your home as your student's traditional high school. Those alternative schools include Louisville's Brook-Dupont School, Breckinridge Metro High, Minor Daniels Academy, and Bellewood School; Lexington's Success Academy, Audrey Grevious Center, and Fayette Regional Juvenile Detention Center; and Bowling Green's Lighthouse Academy, Warren County Day Treatment Center, and Jackson Academy High School. While the alternative schools generally share high hopes for and commitments to their students, parents, education advocates, and often the school officials themselves acknowledge the challenges alternative-ed students face. A Louisville Courier-Journal report focusing on Jefferson County Public Schools' Breckinridge Metro High alternative school paints a sad picture of thousands of students disappearing from the state's alternative-ed system, either pushed out, dropping out, or both. The report notes special problems with getting students into and out of the alternative schools in a reliable, helpful fashion. Kentucky's alternative schools, like alternative schools elsewhere, serve an already troubled student population. Too often, those schools don't help the students adequately. Sometimes, the schools even hurt. Kentucky alternative education isn't a pretty picture. Don't let your student become a part of that sad story.

Kentucky High School Disciplinary Procedures

Kentucky Revised Statute 158.148 requires the state Department of Education to publish student disciplinary procedure guidelines for local districts to adopt to ensure that they comply with state law, rules, regulations, and best school practices. The statute requires that the school board's adopted student disciplinary code include “[p]rocedures for identifying, documenting, and reporting incidents … of violations of the code” together with “[p]rocedures for investigating and responding to a complaint or a report of … a violation of the code….” Federal constitutional law requires that Kentucky high school disciplinary procedures give the accused student due process including fair notice of the charges and an opportunity for the student to present the student's side of the story to an unbiased decision maker. These procedures recognize that school suspension and removal can seriously impede the student's education, giving the student a substantial right to fight unfair charges. One senior education researcher notes abundant research and a national consensus that school suspensions do more harm than good. Don't let that be your student.

Example Kentucky High School Disciplinary Procedures

Kentucky high schools generally adopt disciplinary procedures that provide the accused student with due process. For example, the Lexington High School Student Handbook expressly states that “students will be afforded appropriate due process prior to discipline being imposed. The student should be informed of the charges against him/her and given an opportunity to present his/her account of the events.” The Student-Parent Handbook for the Louisville Public Schools contains similar assurances. For suspensions of more than ten days, Lexington High School's disciplinary procedures promise these protective procedures:

  • Written notice of the charges to the student and parents or guardian
  • The student's opportunity to review the school's evidence of misconduct
  • The student's right to have an attorney representative participate
  • The student's right to attend the discipline hearing with counsel
  • The student's right to present witnesses and other evidence in defense
  • The student's right to cross-examine adverse witnesses at the hearing
  • That the school record the hearing
  • The student's right to appeal any adverse decision imposing suspension

Representation at Kentucky School Disciplinary Proceedings

A Kentucky high school's promise of fair disciplinary procedures is one thing. Invoking those procedures effectively is quite another thing. Disciplinary procedures like Lexington High School's listed above are not generally self-executing. Just because the procedures are there doesn't mean the school will follow them. On the contrary, if you and your student leave the matter entirely to the school without taking any affirmative action in defense, chances are good that the school will default your student. The school may construe your inaction as agreement with the charges, leaving your student facing alternative disciplinary placement. Instead, you need to retain skilled and experienced school discipline defense attorney advisor representation. When you retain national school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento, he will promptly answer the school's charges while helping you evaluate the school's evidence, gather exonerating and mitigating evidence, and make a compelling defense of the charges. Academic administrative procedures differ markedly from court procedures. Don't retain a local criminal defense attorney who doesn't know school procedures. Instead, hire the premier national school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento for a winning defense.

Informal Resolution of Kentucky Disciplinary Proceedings

As important as formal procedures can be to the defense of Kentucky high school disciplinary proceedings, informal resolution of the charges has much to prefer over formal proceedings. At the same time that attorney advisor Lento pursues your student's formal procedural rights, attorney advisor Lento will also communicate informally with school officials toward prompt dismissal of the charges. From having successfully defended hundreds of students nationwide against all forms of disciplinary charges, attorney advisor Lento has learned what assurances and compromises high school officials will generally accept to preserve your student's traditional placement. School officials often accept assurances, especially those involving tutoring, counseling, monitoring, and other interventions that could benefit your student even if your student faced no disciplinary charges. School officials also typically appreciate hearing the student's side of the story, including compelling outside, private, medical, or other confidential circumstances affecting your student's behavior. Attorney advisor Lento knows how to sensitively and diplomatically advocate your student's interests in line with the school's own interests for win-win resolutions. Your student needs and deserves an advocate who has both the formal administrative skills and the informal negotiation skills for the best possible outcome, avoiding disciplinary placement.

Appealing Kentucky High School Discipline

Academic disciplinary procedures often have two stages occurring before different decision makers. First comes the hearing stage, often before the local school officials. Second, comes the appeal stage, when a student suffering a suspension or expulsion can bring the matter before the district superintendent or the district school board. The Bowling Green High School Student Handbook is an example, offering parents the opportunity to appeal their student's suspension to the district superintendent or the superintendent's designee. Appeals give the accused student a second chance at a fair and favorable decision reinstating the student to the traditional high school. Local school officials can sometimes be too close to the student and too involved in the disciplinary charges to make a fair decision. On appeal, cooler heads can prevail. Appeals, though, generally require keen advocacy, much more than a simple letter. A winning appeal must cite the hearing record, showing the appeal officer or panel the initial decision's substantial error. Retain national school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento for your student's winning appeal. Don't give up on your student's future. Exhaust all administrative avenues.

Kentucky Disciplinary Placement Alternative Relief

You've seen above that Kentucky law, rules, regulations, codes, and customs give your high school student several paths to pursue a favorable outcome to disciplinary charges. School disciplinary officials may recommend to you that you and your student accept alternative disciplinary placement. But that outcome may not hold if you take effective action. You may yet have a conference, hearing, or appeal to pursue. Indeed, even if you have exhausted all apparent administrative procedures, you may have one more route to pursue. National high school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento has won special alternative relief for many students nationwide, through their school's general counsel, outside retained counsel, ombudsman, or other oversight official. School districts often employ oversight officials to reduce the school's regulatory and liability risks. Your student's high school doesn't want to get sued or fined because of a legal violation. Attorney advisor Lento has the national reputation and relationships to reach and advocate with oversight officials who have the power to reverse a suspension decision. Don't give up until you have retained attorney advisor Lento for a thorough review and to exhaust all avenues.

Kentucky Disciplinary Placement Harms

You have already seen from the above some of the hazards of Kentucky's alternative disciplinary placement. Disciplinary removal from the traditional school in favor of a special program for at-risk students places your student in a deeply challenged student population. It also removes your student from the peer support and instructional structure that keeps students engaged and on track toward graduation. Alternative schools are necessarily flexible in their programs, but that flexibility can also be the student's worst enemy when the student thrives on accountability structures. The harm, though, can extend well beyond the immediate high school learning. Disciplinary placement can close doors to college, university, and vocational programs. Disciplinary placement can also prevent students from later earning professional licenses or vocational certifications. Disciplinary placement also burdens or destroys peer, friend, teacher, counselor, mentor, and even family relationships. Finally, disciplinary placement can so distress your student as to cause significant mental and emotional harm, even depression and suicidal ideation. Don't underestimate the potential short-term and long-term harms from disciplinary placement. Fight disciplinary placement to preserve your student's traditional high school enrollment.

Your Student's Future May Be on the Line

To put it frankly, your student's future may be on the line when facing high school disciplinary charges. Some parents and students assume that high school is just a very early stage toward adult development, where people expect students to flail and stumble. The public probably does tolerate high school mistakes and shenanigans more than misconduct occurring in college, jobs, and careers. But high school is nonetheless the launching pad for college, university, and vocational success. Earnest students pour their efforts into, and devoted parents pour their resources into the student's high school studies to ensure that the student has prepared academically and socially for the rigors of higher education and the workplace. High school disciplinary charges undermine all those efforts. A general equivalency diploma (GED) just doesn't have the same value in proving a graduate's fitness for the most valuable future opportunities. The time to make a stand on your student's behalf is now, when your student faces high school disciplinary charges. Your student will never forget your commitment. For a student to get on in life, the student sometimes needs to see a parent or other concerned adult show greater belief in the student's future than the student presently believes.

Retain premier school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team now for a winning defense of your Kentucky high school student disciplinary matter. Help your student avoid alternative high school disciplinary placement. Call 888-535-3686 or go online now.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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