When a high school student is accused of a disciplinary violation, it can be easy to write it off as inconsequential. However, what may seem like a small-scale incident can come with lifelong consequences for young learners. One of the most common disciplinary violations to be accused of is “classroom disruption.”
If your child has been accused of causing classroom disruption at the secondary level, it is best to seek legal counsel at the sign of the first accusation. In this article, we'll go over what a classroom disruption allegation is and the effects it can have. We'll also go over when you should contact legal support and the ways that legal counsel can help so that you can ensure that you are doing all you can to protect your child's future.
What are High School Disciplinary Violations?
A high school violation can be broadly defined as any form of disciplinary action that is brought against a student by the public or private school that they attend. Disciplinary action is a common part of the schooling system in the United States and is usually handed out as a result of behavior that a school sees as a violation of its code of conduct. Some of the most common reasons that schools seek out disciplinary action against students include:
- Classroom disruption
- Online misbehavior (i.e., “cyberbullying”)
- Academic dishonesty (such as cheating)
- Vandalism/destruction of property
- Drug possession
- Physical assault
- Bullying/threatening student safety
- Sexual harassment
- Uttering threats
- Other suspected criminal behavior
This list is not exhaustive—it's important to note that sometimes the reason given for a violation can be quite vague, which can leave students vulnerable to overstated disciplinary reactions.
What is a High School Code of Conduct?
A code of conduct is a set of standards that determines the behavior that is expected by every member of a school community, including students, teachers, administrative workers, and volunteers. Most codes of conduct will include a section on classroom disruptions.
What are the Common Punishments for High School Disciplinary Violations?
A school's response to the above violations can vary depending on the institution's policies. The most common punishments in the high school-level school system include:
When a student is handed a short-term suspension, they will be ordered to stay home from school for a predetermined period. This can range anywhere from half a day to half a week.
Long Term Suspension
A long-term suspension is a more serious version of the short-term suspension and can last for as long as several weeks.
An expulsion is considered to be the most serious of all high school violations. When a student is expelled, they are unable to continue to attend their school.
If a student is placed on probation, they will be monitored closely and expected to stay clear of any kind of trouble. If they do commit a transgression, they may face serious consequences such as expulsion.
Activity Participation Ban
Some schools may exclude students from participating in certain extracurricular activities as a form of punishment. This can include things like sports teams as well as clubs and societies.
In some cases, a student may be instructed by their school to perform acts of volunteering or community service in response to a charge of misconduct.
Exclusion from Class
Students may be excluded from a particular class in the case that misconduct has been determined. In this case, they will be permitted to attend the rest of their classes.
Detention is a common punishment for high school students. This involves the retaining of a student during lunchtime, a class period, or after school.
Extra Course Work
In some cases, a teacher or other authority figure may assign a student an extra set of course work as punishment, such as an apologetic or educational essay.
In some rare cases, a high school may decide to press criminal charges against a student. If this happens, it is imperative that you and your child speak to a lawyer immediately, even before speaking to any school employees or campus law enforcement personnel.
What is a Classroom Disruption Disciplinary Violation?
A “classroom disruption” is a common type of high school disciplinary violation, broadly defined as a student interrupting or interfering with the conduct of a classroom. Due to their broad definition, what is and isn't considered a classroom disruption may leave room to teacher interpretation, which can lead to unfair accusations for students.
For example, some teachers may consider students frequently leaving and entering the room to be a classroom disruption, regardless of whether or not a student has a known medical problem or otherwise valid reason for leaving class. Other classroom disturbances can include things like making loud noises, uttering threats, using a cell phone or failing to place a cell phone on silent, or even speaking without being addressed.
If a teacher is accusing your child of classroom disruptions, make sure to keep notes of the dates and times at which these accusations occur. They will likely do the same on their end, so it is important to have evidence on your end in the event that you need to dispute a teacher's accusations.
A pattern of classroom disruption could lead educational authority figures to make a note on you or your child's school record.
What is a School Record?
Every high school student in the United States has what is known as a “school record.” A school record includes an assortment of information about a student's enrolment in an educational institution, including information like grades, transcripts, course schedules, health records, and of course, disciplinary records.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of the educational records of all educational institutions that receive federal funding of any kind (this includes all public schools and most private schools). However, despite these efforts to make high school records private, students who experience misbehavior incidents in high school are not free from long-lasting repercussions. According to a study produced by the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA), 55% of high schools disclose student disciplinary records to colleges and universities. What's even more troubling is that the same study pointed out that 89% of colleges and universities then use this information in their admission decisions.
What are the Consequences of Classroom Disruption Disciplinary Violations?
While once a rarity reserved for the most extreme of student behaviors, high school discipline has become much more commonplace since the 1990s—according to the CCA report mentioned above, more than 3 million children are suspended from school every year, and more than 100,000 are expelled.
While these numbers are staggering on their own, their consequences make it clear just how problematic this rise is. The CCA cited how these harsh forms of punishment at the high school level are responsible for an uptick in decreased graduation rates, dropout rates, and even a higher prevalence of youth crime.
Perhaps the most dangerous consequence of a high school violation, though, is the way that it can affect college admissions. Not only does this have a direct impact on a child's future, but it also causes alarming questions regarding the true purpose of high school discipline, which is at its core supposed to be rehabilitative and encourage a child's individual growth. These serious consequences make it clear that misbehavior accusations in high school must be fought against at all costs.
What Rights Do High School Students Have if Accused of a Classroom Disruption Violation?
The rights that a high school student has will depend on the nature of the violation. This leaves a wide range of interpretation when it comes to classroom disruption. In the Goss v. Lopez ruling of 1975, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that students do have a right to “due process” if they are banned from public school for misconduct for an extended period of time. This means that students are allowed to defend themselves and have a fair hearing. If school officials determine that students pose a serious danger to their school and to the community, they have the option of suspending the student immediately and offering a hearing at a later date.
If a student is facing a lesser charge, they still have certain rights as per the Supreme Court. These include the ability to be notified of the exact charge that they are facing, the punishment that is being ordered, and a show of proof of the charges against the child. They also have the right to informally defend themselves against an authority figure.
If you or your child has a disability, they are also protected by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This act seeks to ensure that students are not handed out punishment as a result of their disability.
Obviously, this is a lot of responsibility for a young student. Instead of relying on your child to defend themselves effectively, it is best that you entrust the help of a legal professional.
How Can an Attorney-Advisor Help With Classroom Disruption Disciplinary Violations?
As young members of society, high school students are especially vulnerable and are likely not aware of their rights or equipped with the right tools in order to stand up for themselves. Therefore, many high school students are often pressured to “confess” to their transgressions. Sometimes the pressure can be so great that they will confess to crimes that they were not involved with at all. While a student may be told that “coming clean” about an incident will lead to a lenient punishment, this is not necessarily the case. Sometimes, confessing liberally can even lead to more serious criminal charges.
Some states will not allow high school students to have a lawyer present at their disciplinary hearing, and a student does not technically have the right to a lawyer unless they are facing criminal charges. However, there are still many ways that legal counsel could help a student facing a disciplinary violation charge, including:
A lawyer will be able to take a deep dive into the accusations that the school has made against your child and provide recommendations that protect the student's rights.
Clarification of Rights
Many people may think that high school students that are accused of misconduct do not have the same rights as adults who are accused of a crime. However, high school students that are under suspicion of misbehavior still have their basic constitutional rights. If a student is being questioned by a member of law enforcement, they will need to be read their Miranda rights, which informs them of their right to remain silent.
High school discipline procedures involve unique stipulations, which can be confusing. A lawyer can help you navigate the process to ensure that you or your child's rights are being respected at all times, and can help you determine whether or not a violation has occurred.
According to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, students of color are more likely to face punishment within the school system compared with their white counterparts. If you believe that your child has been the target of a racially motivated disciplinary charge, you should seek the help of an attorney-advisor immediately.
If you are the parent of a high school student or a high school student over the age of majority who would like to press charges as a result of treatment by a high school administration, a lawyer can help you with this process.
Contact the Best Attorney-Advisor for High School Disciplinary Violations
The rules and legal territory surrounding high school violations, including classroom disruptions, can vary widely by state and territory and can be quite daunting for students and parents to navigate. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have unparalleled experience working with students across the country in a variety of jurisdictions and can help you demystify the charges that your child is being faced with. Don't let a high school incident take hold of your child's future. Get in touch today at 888 535 3686.