It can be easy to write off a high school disciplinary violation as a normal part of the educational experience that many people go through. However, the benign reputation of code of conduct violations at the secondary level can be deceiving.
Some high school disciplinary violations come with repercussions that can haunt your child for the remainder of their educational career. This is especially true for more serious allegations such as non-verbal abuse or the disrespect of staff. If your child is accused of this serious violation, you may find yourself in need of legal counsel.
In this article, we will go over what a high school code violation is, with special attention paid to the code violation known as “other abuse/disrespect of staff.” We'll also cover why it can cause concern and how to tell whether or not you should seek out legal counsel at the first sign of trouble. Read on to discover the best ways to protect the future of your child.
What Rights Do High School Students Have if Accused of a Disciplinary Violation?
While the exact rights that a student has to depend on the particular violation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1975 ruling of Goss v. Lopez that high school students have the right to “due process” if they are banned from an institution for a disciplinary violation.
Goss v. Lopez states that, for a suspension that consists of ten days or less, schools are required to provide a student with an informal hearing that grants them the chance to present their version of events. A suspension of more than ten days will need a formal process.
It is important to note that, while some states may still allow for corporal punishment to be used in a state setting, it is imperative that this punishment is not deemed excessive. If a school has been found to perform corporal punishment that exceeds the legal allowance, it may be found liable in a court of law.
As most high school students are minors, there is the assumption of adult involvement in any case involving exercising their rights. This is why adults need to take up participation in their student's high school career if their child has been accused of misconduct. Unfortunately, unless you are a legal professional, knowing what rights your child has and when they can exercise these rights can be difficult. That's where an attorney-advisor can help.
The Lasting Consequences of a High School Disciplinary Violation
Every state has its own laws and regulations that determine the kind of punishment that can be handed out to a high school student who is found guilty of disrespecting staff. However, it's important to note that the consequences do not end when a student's punishment has been served. Instead, high school disciplinary violations can follow a student throughout their entire educational and even professional career.
According to a groundbreaking survey conducted by the Center for Community Alternatives, in conjunction with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and the National Association for College Admission Counselling, nearly three-quarters of higher education institutions researched high school disciplinary records when reviewing applications. Of that amount, an overwhelming 89% of schools said they took disciplinary records into account when making admission decisions.
Perhaps what is most upsetting is that, as per the report, only 25% of these schools had any form of written policy advising about how to treat high school discipline records. Also, only 30% of schools surveyed trained their staff to treat high school disciplinary records.
This finding alone makes it quite obvious that a high school violation accusation does not just affect a student at a high school level, as it's a finding that follows them to their post-secondary career. In fact, for many students, it may mean that they do not have a post-secondary career at all—and of course, this itself has many real-life repercussions as it will affect what kind of jobs are available to them in the future.
What is a High School Misconduct Violation?
As a high school attendee, your child is subject to the school's particular code of conduct—this goes for both private and public schools. If they are found to violate this code of conduct at any point, then it is likely that disciplinary action will be taken.
Disciplinary action is ubiquitous within schools throughout the United States. While the individual school sets every code of conduct (or school board) and, as a result, may be unique in some way, some of the most common rules involve:
- Bullying (online or offline)
- Cheating on tests
- Drug or alcohol use or possession
- Harassment (physical, verbal, or sexual)
- Non-physical abuse/disrespect of staff
- Threat utterance
- Tardiness and truancy
- Theft of personal possessions or school property
- Other criminal behavior
This list is not all-encompassing. Sometimes, a school's reason for punishing a student can be pretty vague, simply being known as a “code of conduct violation.” This non-specificity can leave students even more vulnerable to disproportionate punishment.
However, for the sake of this article, we will be focusing on one particular entry on the above list—non-physical abuse and disrespect of staff.
What is Non-Physical Abuse/Disrespect of Staff?
Every high school has teachers and other staff members that make up its faculty. This can include professionals such as guidance counselors, office administrators, principals, nurses, custodians, and more. Written into nearly every school's code of conduct is a policy about students treating authority figures with respect.
The problem is that what this entails can sometimes be blurry. Unlike the case of physical assault—the fact that teachers and students shouldn't be physically harming one another seems pretty cut and dry—what constitutes “non-physical abuse” can be up to interpretation. This is even more so the case with the term “disrespect.”
Due to this, students accused of verbal abuse or disrespect are particularly vulnerable to exorbitant punishments. Not only can every authority figure's interpretation of “abuse” or “disrespect” be different, but most cases of disrespect are not recorded and may not even have witnesses. It is a vague accusation that may frequently be applied to students whose reputation precedes them.
Some of the most common examples of non-physical abuse or disrespect of staff could include things like:
- Speaking during class
- Using electronic devices during lectures
- Eating in the classroom (outside of designated times)
- Making loud noises and disruptions during class
- Uttering insults and swearing (and anything else that could be considered “verbal abuse”)
While the above behavior may seem obviously disrespectful, it's important to note that every teacher or authority figure may have a different interpretation of what is disrespectful.
For example, take the instance of a student yawning during class. While this could undoubtedly be meant as disrespectful, say, if the lawn is exaggerated and meant to convey meaning, but is there something inherently disrespectful about a tired student letting out an involuntary innocent yawn during school hours? It can be hard to tell (or prove) the difference between the two.
Common Punishments at the High School Level
The determined punishment will be different depending on each school, school board, or even teacher. However, there are some common themes among the penalties that are often handed out in high school.
Again — these punishments may vary depending on a school's particular policy. Here are some of the most common sentences handed out to high school students that are accused of disciplinary violations:
Detention refers to the “detainment” of a student either during, before, or after school for a predetermined amount of time.
When a student is suspended, they are unable to attend school for a set period of time. In the case of a short-term suspension, this could be several hours or days. In a longer-term suspension, this could consist of days, weeks, or even months.
Am expelled student is unable to continue attending their school. In some cases, they may be unable to attend a school within a particular school board.
Ban From Activities
In some cases, a school may decide that the best course of action is to ban a student from a club or extracurricular activity.
Students placed on probation are watched closely and have the threat of more severe punishment if a further violation occurs.
If a school believes that the student has performed a criminal act, they may choose to press criminal charges. In these cases, punishment would be determined not by a school official but by a court of law.
Contrary to popular belief, the trouble is that if your child is chastised at the high school level, it will not be a case of a simple discipline sentence and a chance for redemption. High school disciplinary violations can affect your child for many years to come—this is especially true if the violation involves abuse or disrespect of staff.
How Can an Attorney-Advisor Help if You're Accused of Disrespecting Staff or Teachers?
A misconduct accusation can be quite stressful for young students. Not only are they very young members of society who are still learning how to navigate many diverse types of personal matters, but they are likely not to have had any experience before with a serious accusation. As a result, they may unintentionally say things that will hurt their case or cause even more trouble for them than they were initially in.
It is important to note that not every state will allow a high school student to have an attorney present at their informal disciplinary hearing. However, even if a legal professional can not be physically present for the hearing, they can still assist in a vast number of ways, including:
Navigating a high school disciplinary charge can be isolating and confusing. While you may have been led to believe that an attorney is only used during high-profile criminal cases, this is simply untrue. In any case, where your child's future is in jeopardy, you should always enlist the help of an attorney-advisor for advice.
Students of color are much more likely to face punishment in high schools when compared with white students, a fact well-documented by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. If your child has been the victim of racial profiling, you should immediately seek the help of an attorney-advisor.
Discrimination can also occur against students with disabilities. In the United States, children with disabilities are protected under the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). An attorney-advisor can help you determine whether or not your child's school has violated this act.
Clarification of Rights
We know from movies that it is custom for those under arrest to be read their Miranda rights, but did you know that Miranda rights also need to be read during incidents of high school violations in some cases? An attorney-advisor can help you clarify whether or not this applies to your child's circumstances.
Filing of a Lawsuit
If the best course of action moves forward to file a lawsuit against the school or school board, an attorney-advisor who is well-versed in school disciplinary laws can help you move forward.
Contact the Best Attorney-Advisor for Help With High School Disciplinary Violations
If your child's disciplinary violation has you worried about your child's future, you're not alone. A trained attorney-advisor can help you navigate the complicated and vague high school disciplinary system. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience in navigating high school discipline rules and has worked with parents all over the country who are looking out for the best for the future of their child. Your child is full of potential—don't let an incident in high school cloud their future. Reach out today at 888 535 3686.