State law encourages districts to operate alternative school programs or to ensure access to educational services to expelled students in an alternative setting.
South Carolina Code of Laws 59-63-1300 Alternative school programs established
The General Assembly finds that a child who does not complete his education is greatly limited in obtaining employment, achieving his full potential, and becoming a productive member of society. It is, therefore, the intent of this article to encourage district school boards throughout the State to establish alternative school programs. These programs shall be designed to provide appropriate services to students who for behavioral or academic reasons are not benefiting from the regular school program or may be interfering with the learning of others. It is further the intent of this article that cooperative agreements may be developed among school districts in order to implement innovative exemplary programs.
South Carolina Code of Laws 59-63-1320. Referral or placement of students in alternative school programs.
Eligible alternative school programs shall be provided for, but not limited to, students in grades 6-12 as follows:
(1) Students referred for voluntary attendance at the alternative school program and meeting the district criteria to attend based upon a documented need for the attention and assistance beyond that of a traditional program as established by the academic history of the student, including the student’s academic plan as required in Section 59-18-500, and following other policies and procedures for documenting need established by the district board of trustees.
(2) Students referred for voluntary attendance at the alternative school program and meeting the district criteria to attend based upon a documented need for the program due to habitual exhibitions of disruptive behavior in violation of the student conduct policies and behavior codes approved by the school board of trustees.
Districts must establish clear guidelines and procedures for the referral of any student into an alternative school program and before a decision is made to assign a student to an alternative school program, a determination must be made that the written and distributed academic and disciplinary policies of the district have been followed.
(3) Students placed in an alternative school program by the district board of trustees as an option to suspension or expulsion or by the dispositive order of a family court judge, with the consent of the local board of trustees. However, before a student may be placed in an alternative school program, a determination must be made by the local board that the written and distributed disciplinary policy of the district has been followed. Districts must establish clear guidelines and procedures for the placement of any student into an alternative school program and at a minimum they shall prescribe due process procedures for placement actions.
When students are being considered for placement in an alternative school program, districts must consider the requirements of the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
If a student placed by the board of trustees in an alternative school program enrolls in another school district before the expiration of the period of placement, the board of trustees of the district requiring the placement shall provide to the district in which the student enrolls, at the same time other records of the student are provided, information concerning the student’s placement in an alternative school program. Upon review of the information, the district in which the student enrolls may continue an alternative education program placement or may allow the student to attend regular classes without completing the period of the placement.
South Carolina Code of Laws 59-63-1330 Discretion of school board
Nothing in this article shall abrogate the authority of any public school district and its governing board to take such disciplinary action as it is otherwise empowered by law to take against any student for misconduct including, but not limited to, expulsion, and nothing in this chapter shall require that any student be assigned to such an alternative school. These decisions shall rest solely in the discretion of the district and school board, regardless of the offense, record of the child, or other information presented from any source.
South Carolina Code of State Regulations 43-279. Minimum Standard of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Enforcement Procedures to be Implemented by Local School Districts.
I. Expectations for Student Conduct in South Carolina Public Schools The mission of the SCDE is to provide leadership and support so that all public education students graduate prepared for success in citizenship, college, and careers as envisioned by the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. Students in the public schools of South Carolina enjoy the same basic rights of United States citizenship as do other United States citizens. The rights of students are supported by the responsibility to insure that the rights of others are respected. This regulation is adopted with the intent to better assure that the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of public education is available to all those attending the public schools of the state of South Carolina.
II. Previously Adopted School District Discipline Policies This regulation is established as a uniform system of minimum disciplinary enforcement for the school districts of South Carolina. School districts that previously have adopted discipline policies that are consistent with and contain the elements included in this regulation may retain their local policies as adopted.
III. Levels of Student Misconduct A. The levels of student misconduct considered in this regulation are arranged by degrees of seriousness. The levels are arranged from the least serious to the most serious. B. Three levels of student misconduct are identified: behavioral misconduct, disruptive conduct, and criminal conduct. The levels are defined in this regulation. C. This regulation includes a listing of possible consequences and/or sanctions for the three levels of student misconduct. As the levels increase in seriousness, the severity of possible disciplinary consequences and/or sanctions increases. D. Suggested consequences within the Level I misconduct category range from verbal reprimand to detention. Level II misconduct includes sanctions ranging from temporary removal from class to expulsion. Level III misconduct includes sanctions ranging from out-of-school suspension to appropriate action within the criminal justice system. E. A local school board, in its discretion, may authorize more stringent Standard and consequences than those contained in this regulation.
IV. Minimum Standard A. Behavioral Misconduct-Level I
- Behavioral misconduct is defined as those activities engaged in by student(s) which tend to impede orderly classroom procedures or instructional activities, orderly operation of the school, or the frequency or seriousness of which disturb the classroom or school. The provisions of this regulation apply not only to within-school activities, but also to student conduct on school bus transportation vehicles, and during other school-sponsored activities.
- Acts of behavioral misconduct shall include, but are not limited to:
- a. Classroom tardiness;
- b. Cheating on examinations or classroom assignments;
- c. Lying;
- d. Abusive language between or among students;
- e. Failure to comply with directives from school/district personnel or agents (to include volunteer aides or chaperones);
- f. Use of forged notes or excuses;
- g. Cutting class;
- h. School tardiness;
- i. Truancy (three consecutive unlawful absences from school or a total of five unlawful absences);
- j. Possession of an electronic communication device (including, but not limited to, cell phones, tablets, computers, and iPods) inconsistent with school board policy. An electronic communication device is a device that emits an audible signal, vibrates, displays a message, image or otherwise summons or delivers a communication to the possessor;
- k. Other acts of behavioral misconduct as determined and communicated by local school authorities.
- The basic enforcement procedures to be followed in instances of behavioral misconduct are:
- a. Upon observation or notification and verification of acts of behavioral misconduct, the staff member shall take immediate action to rectify the misconduct. The staff member shall impose an appropriate consequence, and maintain a record of the misconduct and the consequence.
- b. If, either in the opinion of the staff member or according to local school board policy, a certain misconduct is not immediately rectifiable, the problem shall be referred to the appropriate administrator for action specified by local school board policy.
- c. The administrator shall meet with the reporting staff member, and, if necessary, the student and the parent or guardian, and impose the appropriate consequence and/or establish an intervention plan and/or behavioral contract.
- d. A complete record of the procedures shall be maintained.
- Possible consequences to be applied in cases of behavioral misconduct may include, but are not limited to:
- a. Verbal reprimand;
- b. Withdrawal of privileges;
- c. Demerits;
- d. Detention (silent lunch, after school, weekends, or another time that does not interfere with the instructional day);
- e. Other consequences as approved and communicated by local school authorities.
B. Disruptive Conduct-Level II
- Disruptive conduct is defined as those activities engaged in by student(s) which are directed against persons or property, and the consequences of which tend to endanger the health or safety of oneself or others in the school. Some instances of disruptive conduct may overlap certain criminal offenses, justifying both administrative sanctions and court proceedings. Behavioral misconduct (Level I) may be reclassified as disruptive conduct (Level II) if it occurs three or more times. The provisions of this regulation apply not only to within school activities, but also to student conduct on school bus transportation vehicles, and during other school-sponsored activities.
- Acts of disruptive conduct may include, but are not limited to:
- a. Violation of a Level I intervention plan and/or behavioral contract;
- b. Use of an intoxicant;
- c. Fighting;
- d. Vandalism (minor);
- e. Stealing;
- f. Threats against others;
- g. Trespass;
- h. Abusive language to staff;
- i. Repeated refusal to comply with directives from school personnel or agents (such as volunteer aides or chaperones);
- j. Possession or use of unauthorized substances, as defined by law and/or local school board policy;
- k. Illegally occupying or blocking in any way school property with the intent to deprive others of its use;
- l. Unlawful assembly;
- m. Disrupting lawful assembly;
- n. Inappropriate use of technology (e.g., bullying, harassing, or intimidating other students or district employees, plagiarizing copyrighted materials, and accessing inappropriate websites);
- o. Other acts as determined and communicated by local school authorities.
- The basic enforcement procedures to be followed in instances of disruptive conduct are:
- a. Upon observation or notification and verification of an offense, the administrator shall investigate the circumstances of the misconduct and shall confer with staff on the extent of the consequences.
- b. The administrator shall notify the parent or guardian of the student’s misconduct and related proceedings. The administrator shall meet with the student and, if necessary, the parent or guardian, confer with them about the student’s misconduct and impose the appropriate disciplinary action. Verification shall be defined as the following:
- (1) self-admittance by the student
- (2) witnessed involvement of the student by school administrators staff
- (3) parental admission of student involvement
- (4) evidence obtained through investigation by school administrators and staff
- c. The administrator may refer the student to the appropriate intervention team to establish behavioral management strategies (e.g., restorative justice, counseling, service learning projects) and propose the appropriate disciplinary action.
- d. The administrator or other school officials may refer Level II misconduct to the School Resource Officer or other local law enforcement authorities only when the conduct rises to a level of criminality, and the conduct presents an immediate safety risk to one or more people or it is the third or subsequent act which rises to a level of criminality in that school year.
- e. A complete record of the procedures shall be maintained.
- Possible sanctions to be applied in cases of disruptive conduct may include, but are not limited to:
- a. Temporary removal from class;
- b. Alternative education program;
- c. In-school suspension;
- d. Out-of-school suspension;
- e. Transfer;
- f. Referral to outside agency;
- g. Expulsion;
- h. Restitution of property and damages, where appropriate, shall be sought by local school authorities;
- i. Other sanctions as approved and communicated by local school authorities.
C. Criminal Conduct-Level III
- Criminal conduct is defined as those activities engaged in by student(s) which result in violence to oneself or another’s person or property or which pose a direct and serious threat to the safety of oneself or others in the school. When school officials have a reasonable belief that students have engaged in such actions, then these activities usually require administrative actions which result in the immediate removal of the student from the school, the intervention of the School Resource Officer or other law enforcement authorities, and/or action by the local school board. The provisions of this regulation apply not only to within-school activities, but also to student conduct on school bus transportation vehicles, and during other school-sponsored activities.
- Acts of criminal conduct may include, but are not limited to:
a. Assault and battery that poses a serious threat of injury or results in physical harm;
c. Threat of the use of a destructive device (bomb, grenade, pipe bomb or other similar device);
d. Possession, use, or transfer of dangerous weapons;
e. Sexual offenses;
f. Vandalism (major);
g. Theft, possession, or sale of stolen property;
i. Furnishing or selling unauthorized substances, as defined by law and/or local school board policy;
j. Furnishing, selling, or possession of controlled substances (drugs, narcotics, or poisons);
k. Illegal use of technology (e.g., communicating a threat of a destructive device, weapon, or event with the intent of intimidating, threatening, or interfering with school activities and maliciously transmitting sexual images of minors other than images of the student or images transmitted with the uncoerced consent of the individual in the images).
- “Acts of criminal conduct,” for purposes of defining Level III conduct, do not include acts that only amount to disturbing schools, breach of peace, disorderly conduct, or affray under South Carolina law.
- The basic enforcement procedures to be followed in instances of criminal conduct are:
a. Upon observation or notification and verification of a criminal offense, the administrator shall contact the School Resource Officer or local law enforcement authorities immediately.
b. An administrator shall notify the student’s parent or guardian as soon as possible.
c. An administrator shall impose the appropriate disciplinary action. If warranted, the student shall be removed immediately from the school environment.
d. Established due process procedures shall be followed when applicable.
e. A complete record of the incident shall be maintained in accordance with district policy.
- Possible sanctions to be applied in cases of criminal conduct may include, but are not limited to:
a. Out-of-school suspension;
b. Assignment to alternative schools;
d. Restitution of property and damages, where appropriate, shall be sought by local school authorities;
e. Other sanctions as approved by local school authorities.
D. Extenuating, Mitigating or Aggravating Circumstances
- A local school board may confer upon the appropriate administrator the authority to consider extenuating or mitigating circumstances which may exist in a particular case of misconduct, excluding criminal conduct. Such circumstances shall be considered in determining the most appropriate sanction to be used.
- A local school board may confer upon the appropriate administrator the authority to consider aggravating circumstances which may exist in a particular case of misconduct or criminal conduct. Such circumstances shall be considered in determining the most appropriate sanction to be used.
V. Discipline of Students with Disabilities For additional information regarding Disciplinary Procedures for students with disabilities, see Reg.43-243.
VI. Other Areas of Student Conduct Which May Be Regulated by Local School Board Policy A. Other areas of student conduct which are subject to regulation by local school boards include, but are not limited to:
- School attendance;
- Use of and access to public school property;
- Student dress and personal appearance;
- Speech and assembly within the public schools;
- Publications produced and/or distributed in the public schools;
- The existence, scope and conditions of availability of student privileges, including extracurricular activities and rules governing participation;
- Other activities not in conflict with existing state statutes or regulations as approved and communicated by the local school authorities.
B. Rules of student conduct are required by state and federal law to be reasonable exercises of the local school board’s authority in pursuance of legitimate educational and related functions and shall not infringe upon students’ constitutional rights.