State law requires districts to use alternatives to out-of-school suspension or expulsion, such as in-school suspension, behavioral interventions, or restorative practices.
Code of the District of Columbia 38-236.01. Definitions.
(16) “School-based intervention” means temporarily removing a student from the student’s regular class schedule for the purpose of providing the student with school-based targeted supports, such as behavioral therapy, in response to student conduct that would otherwise warrant an in-school suspension.
Code of the District of Columbia 38-236.03. Establishment of school discipline policies.
(a) Local education agencies shall foster positive school climates that engage all students in learning. (b) Local education agencies shall adopt, in consultation with school personnel, students, and parents, school discipline policies to promote the safety and well-being of students and staff. School discipline policies shall:
- (1) Set high expectations for student behavior and adopt an instructional and corrective approach to school discipline;
- (2) Permit out-of-school suspension or disciplinary unenrollment as a disciplinary action only to ensure safety and in response to the most serious offenses, as set forth in school policy;
- (3) Avoid policies requiring automatic suspension or disciplinary unenrollment for particular behaviors unless otherwise required by law;
- (4) Include a plan for continuity of education for any student subject to a suspension, including a mechanism for modifications to the plan to meet the needs of an individual student, as necessary, to facilitate the student’s return to the classroom, and appropriate measures to ensure the student:
- (A) Continues the student’s studies during the suspension and receives all appropriate assignments for the duration of the suspension;
- (B) Can communicate with school personnel regarding academic work; and
- (C) Upon returning to school, has the opportunity to make up any school work missed during the suspension if the school work cannot be completed by the student during the student’s suspension;
- (5) Require school personnel to seek and facilitate the involvement of parents in response to an incident resulting in a disciplinary action, particularly with regard to the plan for continuity of education, to the degree that a parent is able to participate;
- (6) Identify conduct or categories of conduct, by severity of offense, including conduct that constitutes causing, attempting, or threatening bodily injury or emotional distress, for which a student may be disciplined;
- (7) Identify graduated levels of disciplinary action for misbehavior through a list of options available to teachers and administrators for each level of misconduct; provided, that such a list need not be exhaustive;
- (8) Describe the local education agency’s in-school and out-of-school suspension practice and policy;
- (9) Promote disciplinary actions that are individualized, fair, equitable, developmentally appropriate, proportional to the severity of the student’s offense, and, if appropriate, restorative;
- (10) Provide that school personnel shall consider whether student behavior can be safely and appropriately handled through other disciplinary action before making referrals to law enforcement or seeking school-related arrests in response to student behavior;
- (11) Outline procedures for communicating with students and parents regarding disciplinary actions; and
- (12) Articulate clearly the due process rights and procedures available to students and parents. (c) The school discipline policy of a local education agency that operates a pre-kindergarten program shall be consistent with the requirements of § 38-273.03. (d) A school, or local education agency, as appropriate, shall provide school discipline policies to students and parents and shall provide students and parents with explanations of the policies, including explanations of expectations, rights, and responsibilities of students and parents under the policies. The school, or local education agency, as appropriate, shall make the school discipline policy publicly available, including in a conspicuous place on the school and local education agency’s website. (e) Local education agencies shall proactively evaluate and update school discipline policies and practices to ensure fairness and equity, including by using data and feedback from students, families, and school personnel to identify, reduce, and eliminate discriminatory discipline practices or outcomes and unintended consequences.
Code of the District of Columbia 38–236.06. Support for positive school climate and trauma-informed educational settings.
(a) The Office of the State Superintendent of Education shall provide an array of supports to assist local education agencies and schools to achieve the goals of §§ 38-236.03 through 38-236.05 and to adopt trauma-informed disciplinary practices. The OSSE shall provide local education agencies and schools with, among other supports, the following:
- (1) Guidance and materials that inform local education agencies and school communities about developments in the fields of school climates and behavioral management;
- (2) Regular, high-quality professional development opportunities and technical assistance, and recommendations for further instruction outside of these opportunities, for local education agency and school personnel on:
- (A) Trauma and chronic stress, their effects on students and learning, and effective responses;
- (B) Classroom management, positive behavioral interventions, and fostering positive school climate;
- (C) Disciplinary approaches that utilize instruction and correction;
- (D) Restorative practices and other evidence-based or promising behavioral interventions;
- (E) Implementation of high-quality functional behavior assessments, behavioral intervention plans, and manifestation determination reviews, as those terms are used in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, approved December 3, 2004 (118 Stat. 2745; 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.); and
- (F) Implicit bias and culturally responsive corrective action techniques;
- (3) Opportunities for local education agencies and schools to share promising practices regarding the topics in paragraph (2) of this subsection; and
- (4) Technical assistance and supportive services to assist local education agencies and schools, as needed and in accordance with policies OSSE adopts, in reducing the use of exclusion by addressing the causes of student misconduct and the development and revision of disciplinary plans.
District of Columbia Municipal Regulations 2500 General Policy
2500.1 It is the policy of D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) that a safe environment conducive to learning shall be maintained. To build and maintain this environment, DCPS shall provide students, families, and staff with clear expectations and rules for appropriate school behavior. These rules must balance the responsibilities and rights of individuals and the responsibilities and rights of the school community. These rules must reflect the individual's responsibility for contributing to a safe environment conducive to learning and the need for mutual respect and cooperation among all segments of the school community.
2500.2 DCPS is committed to helping students learn the expectations and rules for appropriate school behavior and the range of disciplinary responses for inappropriate or disruptive behavior. DCPS will recognize and encourage students who exhibit appropriate, non-disruptive behavior. DCPS will encourage prevention and intervention strategies to prevent inappropriate behavior. To that end all available resources, subject to budgetary limitations, shall be utilized, including preventive and responsive interventions that support students' needs.
2500.3 When a student's behavior disrupts the school community's safe learning environment, DCPS will use a range of disciplinary responses intended to change and manage inappropriate behavior. In administering disciplinary responses, DCPS will work with students to correct inappropriate behavior. Students will be enabled and encouraged to reflect on their actions, to learn from mistakes, and to restore any relationships that have been negatively impacted.
2500.4 Whenever possible, prevention, intervention, and remediation strategies shall be used in addition to disciplinary responses at all stages of the disciplinary process, including students transitioning from Suspension or Expulsion.
2500.5 DCPS shall involve family members in efforts to determine the causes of misbehavior and in efforts to support appropriate school behavior.
2500.6 Options for prevention, intervention, and remediation shall include, but not be limited to: (a) Anger management; (b) Attendance intervention plans; (c) Behavior intervention plan; (d) Behavior log/behavior progress report; (e) Behavior redirection; (f) Community conference; (g) Community service; (h) Conflict resolution; (i) Crime awareness/prevention programs; (j) Diverse instructional strategies; (k) In-school program restructuring (schedule change); (l) Individual or group counseling; (m) Intervention by guidance counselor or mental health professional; (n) Mediation, including teacher/student mediation and multi-party dispute resolution; (o) Mentoring; (p) Parent conference; (q) Parent observation of student; (r) Positive feedback for appropriate behavior; (s) Positive behavior supports (t) Problem solving conferences; (u) Referral to community based organizations; (v) Referral to substance abuse counseling service; (w) Rehabilititative programs;
District of Columbia Municipal Regulations 2502 Grounds for Disciplinary Action
2502.1 Tier I behaviors are those behaviors that are insubordinate or cause minor disruptions to the academic environment but do not involve damage to school property or harm to self or others. Tier I behaviors result in classroom-level disciplinary responses that may be elevated to administrative response if they are not successfully abated by the teacher or the appropriate school-level committee.
(a) The following behaviors shall be considered Tier I behaviors: (1) Refusal to present school-issued identification upon request; (2) Attending class without required class materials or assigned work; (3) Off-task behaviors that demonstrate disengagement from classroom learning; (4) Behaviors that disrupt or interfere with classroom teaching and learning; (5) Unexcused lateness for school or class; (6) Inappropriate displays of affection; (7) Excessive noise in the classroom, hall, or school building; (8) Running in the classroom, hall, or school building; (9) Communicating with staff and peers in a manner that is not polite, courteous, or respectful; (10) Directing profanity or obscene/offensive gestures toward peers; (11) Refusal to comply with staff instructions, or classroom or school rules; and (12) Any behavior or other conduct not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that is insubordinate or causes minor disruption to the academic environment but does not involve damage to school property or harm to self or others.
(b) Disciplinary responses for Tier I behaviors shall include: (1) Verbal redirection or reprimand; (2) Teacher/student conference; (3) Parental contact in writing or by phone; (4) Teacher/parent conference; (5) Temporary Removal of Student from Classroom; (6) In-School Disciplinary Action; (7) Behavior contract; and (8) Other school-based consequences as approved by a person designated by the Chancellor.
2502.2 Tier II behaviors are those behaviors not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that cause disruption to the academic environment, involve damage to school property, or may cause minor harm to self or others. Tier II behaviors result in school-based and administrative disciplinary responses.
(a) The following behaviors shall be considered Tier II behaviors: (1) Using computer/office equipment without permission; (2) Intentional Misuse of School Equipment/Supplies/Facilities; (3) Unauthorized use of portable electronic devices during school hours (e.g. mp3 players, cell phones); (4) Non-compliance with approved dress code/uniform policy; (5) Leaving classroom without permission; (6) Unexcused absence from class; (7) Unauthorized presence in hallway during class time; (8) Unexcused absence from school; (9) Inappropriate or disruptive physical contact between students; (10) Directing profanity or obscene/offensive gestures toward staff; (11) Throwing objects that may cause injury or damage to property; (12) Any behavior or other conduct not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that causes disruption to the academic environment, involves damage to school property, or may cause minor harm to self or others; and (13) Documented Pattern of Persistent Tier I Behavior.
(b) Disciplinary responses for Tier II behaviors shall include: (1) Verbal redirection or reprimand; (2) Teacher/student or administrator/student conference; (3) Parental contact in writing or by phone; (4) Administrator/parent conference; (5) Temporary Removal of Student from Classroom; (6) In-School Disciplinary Action; (7) Behavior contract; (8) Other school-based consequences as approved by a person designated by the Chancellor; and (9) In the case of non-compliance with an approved dress code or uniform policy, disciplinary actions described in section 2408.16 of this title.
2502.3 Tier III behaviors are those behaviors not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that cause significant disruption to the academic environment or cause harm to self or others. In addition to lesser consequences, Tier III behaviors may result in either on-site or off-site Suspension. (a) The following behaviors shall be considered Tier III behaviors: (1) Inappropriate Use of DCPS Computer or Network (restricted websites, offensive emails); (2) Sale or Distribution of any item without authorization; (3) Possession or Distribution of obscene or pornographic material on school premises; (4) Possession or Use of tobacco; (5) Use of alcohol; (6) Use of marijuana, controlled dangerous substances, imitation controlled substances, inhalants, other intoxicants, or drug paraphernalia; (7) Unauthorized Possession, Use, or Distribution of over-the-counter medication; (8) Verbal, written, or physical Threat to person or property (including intimidating postures); (9) Obscene, seriously offensive, or abusive language or gestures; (10) Causing disruption on school property or at any DCPS-sponsored or supervised activity; (11) Gambling; (12) Communicating slurs based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, or place of residence or business, including derogatory sexual language; (13) Engaging in Sexual Acts on school premises or at school-related functions; (14) Leaving school without permission; (15) Academic Dishonesty; (16) Forgery; (17) Lying to or giving misleading information to school staff; (18) Posting or distributing material or literature that is disrespectful, demeaning, humiliating, or damaging to students and/or staff. This includes posting material on internet or sending material electronically (via email or cell phone); (19) Engaging in behavior that demonstrates Gang/neighborhood crew affiliation (displaying clothing or gestures associated with Gangs); (20) Hazing; (21) Bullying, or using humiliating, or intimidating language or behavior, including Internet Bullying; (22) Possession of tools or instruments which school administrators deem could be used as weapons; (23) Engaging in reckless behavior that may cause harm to self or others; (24) Extortion; (25) Fighting where there is no injury and no weapon; (26) Trespassing; (27) Any behavior or other conduct not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that causes significant disruption to the academic environment or causes harm to self or others; (28) Documented Pattern of Persistent Tier II Behavior
(b) Disciplinary responses for Tier III behaviors shall include: (1) Verbal redirection/reprimand; (2) Teacher/student conference or administrator/student conference; (3) Parental contact (written or by phone); (4) Parent conference; (5) Temporary Removal of Student from Classroom; (6) Behavior contract; (7) In-School Disciplinary Action; (8) Grade reduction for Academic Dishonesty; (9) On-site Short-Term Suspension with provision of appropriate intervention services; (10) Off-site Short-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence; and (11) Off-site Medium-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence.
2502.4 Tier IV behaviors are those behaviors not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that cause disruption to the school operation, destroy school property, or cause significant harm to self or others. Tier IV behaviors result in off-site Suspension.
(a) The following behaviors shall be considered Tier IV behaviors: (1) Acts of vandalism, destruction of property, or graffiti (tagging); (2) Documented theft of school or personal property without force; (3) Interfering with school authorities or participating in a major disruption of the school's operation. (4) Tampering with, changing, or altering an official record or document of a school; (5) Persistent Harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, or place of residence or business; (6) Lewd or indecent public behavior or sexual misconduct; (7) Sexual Harassment; (8) Retaliation for reporting Harassment and Sexual Harassment; (9) Fighting which creates substantial risk of or results in minor injury; (10) Inciting others to violence or disruption; (11) Activating False Alarm; (12) Contaminating food; (13) Possession of a weapon or replica or imitation of a weapon (including water guns), other than weapons subject to the requirements of the Gun-Free Schools Act; (14) Using an article that is not normally considered a weapon to intimidate or threaten another individual; (15) Any behavior or other conduct not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that causes disruption to the school operation, destroys school property, or causes significant harm to self or others; and (16) Documented Pattern of Persistent Tier III Behavior enumerated at 2502.3(a)(1) through (27).
(b) Disciplinary responses for Tier IV behaviors include: (1) Off-site Short-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence; (2) Off-site Medium-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence; and (3) Off-site Long-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence.
2502.5 Tier V behaviors are those behaviors not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that are illegal, cause significant disruption to the school operation, or cause substantial harm to self or others. Tier V behaviors result in off-site Suspension or Expulsion.
(a) The following behaviors shall be considered Tier V behaviors: (1) Acts of Exceptional Misconduct at other schools; (2) Vandalism/destruction of property over $ 500; (3) Selling or Distribution of marijuana, prescription drugs, controlled dangerous substances, imitation controlled substances, inhalants, other intoxicants, controlled or drug paraphernalia; (4) The Possession or Distribution of alcohol; (5) The Possession of drug paraphernalia or controlled substance, irrespective of the amount or type, pursuant to the criminal statutes of the District of Columbia, codified at D.C. Official Code § 48-1101 et seq. (2001) (6) Causing serious disruption or damage to school's computer systems, electronic files, or network; (7) Possession of fireworks or explosives; (8) Theft or attempted theft using force, coercion, intimidation, or Threat of violence; (9) Assault or physical attack on student or staff; (10) Fighting which results in a serious physical injury; (11) Participating in group fight which has been planned, causes major disruption to school day or results in substantial bodily injury; (12) Using an article that is not normally considered a weapon to injure another individual; (13) Use, threatened use, or transfer of any weapon; (14) Use, Possession, or bringing to school a loaded or unloaded firearm, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921 (2000), including but not limited to pistols, blank pistols, starter pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns. (15) Any behavior that violates the Gun-Free Schools Act; (16) Deliberate acts that cause severe physical injury to another person (s). (17) Assault with a weapon; (18) Commission or attempted commission of any act of sexual assault or sexual aggression; (19) Arson; (20) Biohazard; (21) Bomb threat; (22) Any other intentional use of violence, force, coercion, Threats, intimidation, or other comparable conduct which causes or attempts to cause severe physical injury, substantial disruption, or obstruction of any lawful mission, process, or function of the D.C. Public Schools; (23) Any behavior or other conduct not specifically enumerated in any other tier in this chapter that is illegal, causes significant disruption to the school operation, or causes substantial harm to self or others; and (24) Documented Pattern of Persistent Tier IV Behavior.
(b) Disciplinary responses for Tier V behaviors include: (1) Off-site Long-Term Suspension, except in response to unexcused tardiness or absence; and (2) Expulsion. (c) Weapons include, but are not limited to: (1) Weapons enumerated in D.C. Official Code § 22-4514 (2001); (2) Firearms as enumerated in 18 U.S.C. § 921 (2000); (3) Knives (e.g. bowie, dirk, lock-blade, hunting, pen, pocket, switchblade, utility, boxcutter, etc.); (4) Martial arts devices (e.g. Chinese stars, 'nunchucks', etc.); (5) Air gun, bb gun, paintball gun; (6) Other weapons or instruments designed to be or commonly used as weapons (e.g., chains, clubs, knuckles, night stick, pipes, studded bracelets); (7) Mace, pepper spray, tear gas; (8) Explosives; (9) Slingshot; (10) Bullets; (11) Chemical weapon; and (12) Razorblade or razor.
Non-Regulatory Guidance: School Discipline
This document provides non-regulatory guidance around discipline. OSSE encourages LEAs to include limits to seclusion and restraint, school-wide behavior management systems, student codes of conduct, bullying prevention policies, referral to law enforcement procedures, appeals processes for discipline actions, and more in their discipline policies. The guidance further provides additional guiding principles on student discipline and examples of promising alternative practices, such as restorative practices and positive behavior interventions and supports systems approach.