Avoiding Disciplinary Placement in the Ohio High School System

Most parents in Ohio would love for their child to be valedictorian, or at least graduate from high school with strong grades and a clean behavioral record. In reality, countless students struggle through high school. When behavioral issues become chronic, or your child faces serious allegations of misconduct, the Ohio public school system may take drastic action.

Ohio handles disciplinary placement at the local level. The school board in your town, city, or specific district may hold your child's future in its hands. To protect that future, you may hire an attorney to ensure that your child receives the due process they're entitled to.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are familiar with Ohio's alternative education rules and procedures. We'll familiarize ourselves with your child's school district (if we're not already familiar) and form a plan to secure the best outcome for your child.

Young people make mistakes, and most of these mistakes should be dealt with compassionately. If your child's Ohio school district decides to reassign them to an alternative education program, it will cast a stigma upon your student.

Let our team fight for your family. We know the law, and we'll use our experience and resources to seek a resolution that your family can be pleased with.

Code of Conduct for High School Students in Ohio

Because discipline in Ohio high schools falls largely upon individual districts, we'll use Xenia Community Schools' 2021-2022 Student Code of Conduct as an illustrative example. This school district's rules prohibit:

  • Certain public displays of affection
  • Wearing "sexually explicit" clothing
  • Causing damage to school property
  • Skipping school
  • Cheating
  • Gambling
  • Possessing, selling, buying, or even smelling like drugs or alcohol
  • Engaging in disruptive or disrespectful behaviors
  • Extortion
  • Fire-related offenses
  • Possessing weapons, including but not limited to firearms

Depending on the specific school and district, chronic truancy and poor academic performance could lead to suspension, expulsion, or reassignment, too.

Some of these offenses may appear minor, and many are minor—compared with more serious offenses, at least. However, multiple "minor" offenses may compel school districts in Ohio to take disciplinary action that it believes is justified.

If a school district decides that your child has flouted its rules repeatedly, it may even resort to suspension, expulsion, and reassignment of your child to an alternative program.

These outcomes don't have to happen. Our firm will work hard towards an outcome that is not overly punitive, and that keeps your child's future goals intact.

Who Will Discipline My Child for Alleged Code of Conduct Violations?

A superintendent will generally issue any serious discipline towards your child. The superintendent does not have complete authority to issue discipline as they see fit, though, as there are statutory parameters within which they must act.

For example, Ohio Revised Code Section 3313.66 states that "the superintendent of schools of a city, exempted village, or local school district, or the principal of a public school may suspend a pupil from school for not more than ten school days."

Even though the superintendent does not have power to impose a suspension beyond ten days, they may have the authority to:

  • Expel your student for a period of a year or longer
  • Extend disciplinary measures repeatedly, whether the discipline is an expulsion, reassignment, or other measure
  • Readmit your child into the high school system after they've fulfilled their discipline
  • Make other decisions that significantly affect your child's present and future

Never forget this: Due process is central to all high school disciplinary procedures in Ohio. A superintendent may not make any disciplinary decision without adequately informing you of their intent, and allowing you the chance to retain an attorney and defend your child.

Potential Sanctions (Including Alternative School) Your Child May Face for Alleged Misconduct

The Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) explains that students in grades six through 12 may be placed in an alternative education program during a period of expulsion or suspension.

Reassignment to alternative school is one of the most drastic measures that school districts in Ohio can take. Before taking this step, your child is entitled to less heavy-handed forms of discipline, which may include:

  • Detention
  • Removal from a classroom for a brief period of time
  • Meetings between administrator, student, and parent to discuss any behavioral issues
  • Behavioral probation, where the school provides a clear set of rules for your child to follow for a defined period of time
  • In-school suspension, or ISS
  • Tickets, in which students face monetary fines for violating their high school's code of conduct

Out-of-school suspension, expulsion, and reassignment can significantly harm a student's college prospects, which may also harm their professional pursuits. Though these consequences may seem far down the road (depending on your child's age), they are very real.

Can an Ohio School Board Remove Your Child in an "Emergency" Manner?

Under certain circumstances, superintendents and other authority figures in Ohio may take swift disciplinary measures against a student. In certain cases, the student may face permanent expulsion from the Ohio public school system.

For example, Ohio Revised Code Section 3313.662 allows a school district to "issue an adjudication order that permanently excludes a pupil from attending any of the public schools of this state" if they're convicted of certain criminal offenses. The student facing permanent expulsion must be 16 years or older, and may face this consequence if:

  • They possess a firearm, either concealed or expose, or "object indistinguishable from a firearm" in a school safety zone
  • They possess a controlled substance on school property or at a school-sanctioned