State law requires districts to limit use of out-of-school suspension and expulsion based on factors such as student age or offense type.
South Carolina Code of Laws 59-17-135. Character education.
(D) When a public school student is speaking with a public school employee while on school property or at a school sponsored event, the student may be encouraged to address and respond to the public school employee by using terms indicative of or reflecting courtesy and respect for a public school’s employees position of authority including, but not limited to, sir, ma’am, thank you, and please.
(E) Each school district board of trustees is encouraged to provide for incorporation of the requirements of subsections (C) and (D) into any existing discipline policy or policies or any code of conduct of the school district or of each school within its jurisdiction.
(F) No school board may provide suspension or expulsion from school as an appropriate punishment for violation of subsection (D).
South Carolina Code of Laws 59-63-220. Suspension of pupils by administrator.
Any district board may confer upon any administrator the authority to suspend a pupil from a teacher’s class or from the school not in excess of ten days for any one offense and for not more than thirty days in any one school year but no such administrator may suspend a pupil from school during the last ten days of a year if the suspension will make the pupil ineligible to receive credit for the school year without the approval of the school board unless the presence of the pupil constitutes an actual threat to a class or a school or a hearing is granted within twenty-four hours of the suspension.
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.