State law requires districts to use alternatives to out-of-school suspension or expulsion, such as in-school suspension, behavioral interventions, or restorative practices.
Colorado Revised Statutes 22-32-109.1. Board of education - specific powers and duties - safe school plan - conduct and discipline code - safe school reporting requirements - school response framework - school resource officers - definitions - repeal
(g) "Restorative justice" has the same meaning as set forth in section 22-32-144 (3). […] (B) Include plans for the appropriate use of prevention, intervention, restorative justice, peer mediation, counseling, or other approaches to address student misconduct, which approaches are designed to minimize student exposure to the criminal and juvenile justice system. The plans shall state that a school administration shall not order a victim's participation in a restorative justice practice or peer mediation if the alleged victim of an offending student's misconduct alleges that the misconduct constitutes unlawful sexual behavior, as defined in section 16-22-102 (9), C.R.S.; a crime in which the underlying factual basis involves domestic violence, as defined in section 18-6-800.3 (1), C.R.S.; stalking as defined in section 18-3-602, C.R.S.; or violation of a protection order, as defined in section 18-6-803.5, C.R.S..
Colorado Revised Statutes 22-32-144. Restorative justice practices - legislative declaration
(1) The general assembly hereby finds that:
- (a) Conflicts and offenses arising during the school day interrupt learning, threaten school safety, and often lead to suspensions, expulsions, and an increase in the likelihood of a student dropping out of school;
- (b) Students who drop out of high school face diminished job opportunities, lower lifetime earnings, and increased unemployment and more often require public assistance. They are more likely to participate in criminal activity, resulting in higher incarceration rates, and they face much greater challenges to becoming productive, contributing members of their communities.
- (c) School conflicts can result in offenses that violate school rules and local laws and damage relationships among members of the school and surrounding community;
- (d) Restorative justice, which requires the offender to accept responsibility and accountability for his or her actions, teaches conflict resolution, repairs the harm from the offense, reduces classroom disruptions, suspensions, expulsions, and consequent dropouts, promotes school safety, and enables victims, offenders, and community members to rebuild the community and restore relationships; and
- (e) The general assembly has a vital interest in reducing classroom disruptions, suspensions, expulsions, and dropout rates and in assisting victims, reducing referrals to the justice system, and building safer, more cohesive school communities to promote learning.
(2) (a) Therefore, the general assembly supports and encourages the use of restorative justice as a school's first consideration to remediate offenses such as interpersonal conflicts, bullying, verbal and physical conflicts, theft, damage to property, class disruption, harassment and internet harassment, and attendance issues.
- (b) The general assembly encourages each school district to implement training and education in the principles and practices of restorative justice to ensure that capable personnel and resources are available to successfully facilitate all steps of the restorative justice process.
(3) For purposes of this section, "restorative justice" means practices that emphasize repairing the harm to the victim and the school community caused by a student's misconduct. Restorative justice practices may include victim-initiated victim-offender conferences attended voluntarily by the victim, a victim advocate, the offender, school members, and supporters of the victim and the offender, which program provides an opportunity for the offender to accept responsibility for the harm caused to those affected by the act and to participate in setting consequences to repair the harm. Consequences recommended by the participants may include, but need not be limited to, apologies, community service, restitution, restoration, and counseling. The selected consequences shall be incorporated into an agreement that sets time limits for completion of the consequences and is signed by all participants.
(4) Each school district is encouraged to develop and utilize restorative justice practices that are part of the disciplinary program of each school in the district.
Colorado Revised Statutes 22-33-105. Suspension, expulsion, and denial of admission
(1) No child who has attained the age of six years and is under the age of twenty-one shall be suspended or expelled from or be denied admission to the public schools, except as provided by this article.
(2) In addition to the powers provided in section 22-32-110, the board of education of each district may: ...
(4) The board of education of each district shall establish, as an alternative to suspension, a policy that allows the pupil to remain in school by encouraging the parent, guardian, or legal custodian, with the consent of the pupil's teacher or teachers, to attend class with the pupil for a period of time specified by the suspending authority. If the parent, guardian, or legal custodian does not agree to attend class with the pupil or fails to attend class with the pupil, the pupil shall be suspended in accordance with the conduct and discipline code of the district.
Colorado Revised Statutes 22-33-106.1. Suspension - expulsion - preschool through second grade - definitions
(2) Notwithstanding any provision of this article 33 to the contrary, an enrolling entity may impose an out-of-school suspension or expel a student enrolled in preschool, kindergarten, first grade, or second grade only if: …
- (c) The enrolling entity, on a case-by-case basis, considers each of the factors set forth in section 22-33-106 (1.2) before suspending or expelling the student. The enrolling entity shall document any alternative behavioral and disciplinary interventions that it employs before suspending or expelling the student.
Colorado Revised Statutes 22-33-202. Identification of at-risk students
(1) Each school district shall adopt policies to identify students who are at risk of suspension or expulsion from school. Students identified may include those who are truant, who have been or are likely to be declared habitually truant, or who are likely to be declared habitually disruptive. The school district shall provide students who are identified as at risk of suspension or expulsion with a plan to provide the necessary support services to help them avoid expulsion. The school district shall work with the student's parent or guardian in providing the services and may provide the services through agreements with appropriate local governmental agencies, appropriate state agencies, community-based organizations, and institutions of higher education entered into pursuant to section 22-33-204. The failure of the school district to identify a student for participation in an expulsion-prevention program or the failure of such program to remediate a student's behavior shall not be grounds to prevent school personnel from proceeding with appropriate disciplinary measures or used in any way as a defense in an expulsion proceeding.
(2) Each school district may provide educational services to students who are identified as at risk of suspension or expulsion from school. Any school district that provides educational services to students who are at risk of suspension or expulsion may apply for moneys through the expelled and at-risk student services grant program established in section 22-33-205 to assist in providing such educational services.
Colorado Revised Statutes 22-37-104. Qualification
(1) An eligible participant may submit a proposal to the state board for a grant for the development of a program under this article, which may involve selected grade levels within a public school or facility school.
(2) A program shall:
(a) Provide supervision, discipline, counseling, and continuous education for a suspended student with the goal of maintaining the education of a suspended student and preventing further disruptive behavior, subsequent suspension, or expulsion;
(b) Provide for a transitional stage from in-school or in-home suspension to regular school activities;
(c) Include an agreement by the participating public school or facility school that a student suspended for the reasons specified in section 22-33-106 (1)(a) or (1)(b) shall be included in the program;
(d) Include an evaluation phase based on the collection of data that shall measure effectiveness of the program; and
(e) Include provisions for the dissemination of the results of the program to the state board; the participating facility school; the school board or governing board of the participating public school; the parents, guardians, or legal custodians with students attending the participating public school; and any other interested persons.
(3) A program may include, but need not be limited to, any of the following:
(a) Programs that utilize new instructional, counseling, or disciplinary concepts;
(b) Programs that utilize current public school or facility school staff or other personnel;
(c) Programs that encourage parental participation and involvement;
(d) Programs that employ individualized instruction, computer-assisted instruction, or other automated equipment for instruction;
(e) Programs that provide behavioral modification or anger management techniques.
(4) Each proposal must include a breakdown of all costs that would be incurred upon approval of the program.