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The Dallas School District’s Plan For School Suspension Reform

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Aug 15, 2021 | 0 Comments

Amid the calls to redress racial disparities in institutions nationwide, the Dallas Independent School District (“DISD”) is leading the charge to re-imagine school suspensions.

Nationally, across all grades, 23 days of instruction are lost for every 100 students due to suspensions. Black students disproportionately face suspension. In Dallas specifically, though Black students only make up 21.6% of student enrollment, they represent roughly 52% of out-of-school suspensions. Statistics show that students who experience suspension are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school, and end up in jail.

Because of this, Dallas educators recently proposed a new student code of conduct that removes both in-school and out-of-school suspensions as a potential consequence for non-severe misconduct allegations. However, students accused of severe violations like drug possession or terroristic threats may still face suspension or expulsion.

Dallas' New Disciplinary Procedures

Under the new disciplinary protocols, teachers would rely on a menu of other repercussions as an alternative to suspension. These alternative consequences include sending students to Reset Centers or classrooms where students may complete their classwork remotely while addressing their behavioral issues.

The Reset Centers incorporate intervention strategies designed to teach students more appropriate ways to handle their behavior. These strategies include self-control, social and emotional learning, restorative practices, problem-solving skills, and replacement behavior support. DISD plans to house these Reset Centers in more than 50 middle and high schools.

Traditional School Suspension Protocols

Students at all public schools have a constitutional right to due process in disciplinary matters. This means that when a school accuses a student of wrongdoing, it must follow specific procedures to protect student rights. Though the disciplinary process isn't the same at every school, those procedures generally include the following:

  • The school must notify the student and their parents or guardians in a language they understand of the misconduct allegations;
  • The school must then investigate the alleged wrongdoing;
  • School authorities, the students, and their parents or guardians must discuss the outcome of that investigation and may schedule a formal hearing, if necessary;
  • After the discussion or hearing, school authorities must determine whether the student violated the school's code of conduct and decide on any penalties; and
  • Finally, the student usually has an opportunity to appeal the school's decision before it becomes finalized.

The Legal Concerns With DISD's New Code Of Conduct

Though DISD's attempt to redress racial disparities when it comes to suspension is noble, what hasn't been reported is how the new protocols will affect students' rights to due process. Even if the penalties no longer involve formal removal from the classroom, students still have a right to defend themselves against misconduct accusations, particularly if those accusations can affect their access to future opportunities.

What To Do If Your Child Is Facing Misconduct Allegations

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have extensive experience helping high school and college students defend themselves against misconduct allegations. The Lento Law Firm provides compassionate counsel to students and their parents nationwide and works tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome in each case. Don't leave your future to chance; call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Mr. Lento represents students and others in disciplinary cases and other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Mr. Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he has sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address school-related issues and concerns anywhere in the United States.

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