2020 General Assembly Session

Conduct & Discipline Related Legislation

2020 General Assembly Summary
Conduct & Discipline Related Legislation
Fairfax County Public Schools, Office of Government Relations

This report describes all of the Conduct & Discipline related legislation considered during the 2020 General Assembly Regular Session.  Bills are listed in one of three categories: Approved, Continued to 2021, or Failed. 

Approved legislation goes into effect on July 1, 2020 unless otherwise specified in the legislation itself.

Bills designated as “Continued to 2021” are effectively “Failed” for purposes of the 2020 Session, but can  still be acted upon by the Committee that recommended continuing the legislation prior to the 2021 Session (by December 3, 2020).  Even if a bill were to be acted upon prior to that deadline (which rarely occurs), it would still have to proceed through the remainder of the legislative process (pass in both chambers, signed by the Governor) during the 2021 Session.

Summaries are linked to the Division of Legislative Services’ web pages for text, up to date summary information, and fiscal impact statements. If a bill of interest is not found in one category, please check another as legislation often can fit under multiple categories.

UPDATED:  March 30, 2020


Alternative School Discipline Process SB 1020 (Stanley) allows a school board to adopt an alternative school discipline process to provide a principal and parties involved in an incident involving assault, or assault and battery without bodily injury, that occurs on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored event an option to enter into a mutually agreed-upon process between the involved parties as an alternative to reporting such incident to law enforcement. The bill provides that a principal in a school division with such an alternative accountability process may attempt to engage the parties involved in such an incident in the process prior to reporting such incident to the local law-enforcement agency and prohibits, if provided for by the school board, a principal from reporting a party who successfully completes the alternative school discipline process.

Chesterfield County School Board; Recovery High School HB 928 (Coyner) permits the Chesterfield County School Board to establish a recovery high school in the school division as a year-round high school (i) for which enrollment is open to any high school student who resides in Superintendent's Region 1 and is in the early stages of recovery from substance use disorder or dependency and (ii) for the purpose of providing such students with the academic, emotional, and social support necessary to make progress toward earning a high school diploma and reintegrating into a traditional high school setting.

Discipline; Suspension; Access to Graded Work HB 415 (Delaney) requires school boards to adopt policies and procedures to ensure suspended students are able to access and complete graded work during and after the suspension.

Disorderly Conduct in Public Places; School Activities HB 256 (Mullin) and SB 3 (McClellan) provide that an elementary or secondary school student is not guilty of disorderly conduct in a public place if the disorderly conduct occurred on the property of an elementary or secondary school, on a school bus, or at any activity conducted or sponsored by any elementary or secondary school. HB 256 incorporates HB 8 (Bourne).

Drug Control Act; Schedule I HB 1263 (Hodges) and SB 538 (Newman) add certain chemicals to Schedule I of the Drug Control Act. The Board of Pharmacy has added these substances to Schedule I in an expedited regulatory process. A substance added via this process is removed from the schedule after 18 months unless a general law is enacted adding the substance to the schedule.

School Boards; Dress or Grooming Codes HB 837 (Carroll Foy) requires the Board of Education to include in its guidelines and model policies for codes of student conduct standards for reducing bias and harassment in the enforcement of any code of student conduct and  standards for dress or grooming codes, which the bill defines as any practice, policy, or portion of a code of student conduct adopted by a school board that governs or restricts the attire of any enrolled student. The bill permits any school board to include in its code of student conduct a dress or grooming code. The bill requires any dress or grooming code included in a school board's code of student conduct or otherwise adopted by a school board to permit any student to wear any religiously and ethnically specific or significant head covering or hairstyle, including hijabs, yarmulkes, headwraps, braids, locs, and cornrows; maintain gender neutrality by subjecting any student to the same set of rules and standards regardless of gender; not have a disparate impact on students of a particular gender; be clear, specific, and objective in defining terms, if used;  prohibit any school board employee from enforcing the dress or grooming code by direct physical contact with a student or a student's attire; and prohibit any school board employee from requiring a student to undress in front of any other individual, including the enforcing school board employee, to comply with the dress or grooming code.

School Principals; Incident Reports HB 257 (Mullin) and SB 729 (McClellan) eliminate the requirement for school principals to report to the local law enforcement agency certain acts enumerated that constitute a misdemeanor offense. The measures also require that when the principal reports any act to the parents of any minor student, the principal shall report whether the incident has been reported to local law enforcement.   HB 257 incorporates HB 695 (Simonds).

Use of Topical Sunscreen SB 44 (Spruill) permits any public elementary or secondary school student to possess and use topical sunscreen in its original packaging on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored event without a note or prescription from a licensed health care professional if the topical sunscreen is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for nonprescription use for the purpose of limiting damage to skin caused by exposure to ultraviolet light.

Youth and Gang Violence Prevention Grant Fund and Program; Creation HB 422 (Price) establishes the Youth and Gang Violence Prevention Grant Fund and Program, to be administered by the Department of Criminal Justice Services, for the purpose of awarding grants to the Cities of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Richmond, and Roanoke for the purpose of performing community assessments for youth and gang violence prevention. Grants are to be awarded in an amount of $25,000 to each city to perform such an assessment. No more than $150,000 per year shall be allocated by the program.



Corporal Punishment of a Child With an Object; Penalty SB 32 (Petersen) would provide that any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a child under 18 years of age who uses an inanimate object to subject a child to corporal punishment, as defined in the bill, would be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Marijuana: Legalization of Simple Possession, Penalties HB 87 (Carter) would eliminate criminal penalties for possession of marijuana for persons who are 21 years of age or older. The bill would also decriminalize marijuana possession for persons under 21 years of age and provides a civil penalty of no more than $100 for possession of two and one-half ounces or less of marijuana or 12 or fewer marijuana plants and a civil penalty of no more than $500 for possession of more than two and one-half ounces of marijuana or 12 marijuana plants. The bill would also modify several other criminal penalties related to marijuana. The bill would impose an additional tax of 10 percent on retail marijuana and retail marijuana products sold by retail marijuana stores and microbusinesses and directs the first $20 million of such revenues, after expenses of the Board are paid, to the Veterans Treatment Fund, established in the bill. The remaining tax receipts would be distributed to the localities in which the businesses operate, toward the state's share of Standards of Quality basic aid payments, and to the Commonwealth Mass Transit Fund.

Public Elementary and Secondary School Students; Suspension and Expulsion; Sufficient cause HB 109 (J.G. Cole) would provide that in no case shall sufficient cause for the suspension or expulsion of a student from attendance at a public elementary or secondary school include only instances of truancy or nonviolent behavior.



Electronic Transmission of Sexually Explicit Visual Material by Minors; Penalties SB 440 (Surovell) would have provided that a minor who knowingly transmits, distributes, publishes, or disseminates to another minor an electronically transmitted communication containing sexually explicit visual material of his own person or knowingly possesses at least one but not more than 10 electronically transmitted communications containing sexually explicit visual material of another minor is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Juvenile Law-Enforcement Records; Disclosures to School Principals SB 59 (Hanger) would have changed from discretionary to mandatory that the chief of police of a city or chief of police or sheriff of a county disclose to a school principal all instances where a juvenile at the principal's school has been charged with a violent juvenile felony, an arson offense, or a concealed weapon offense and adds an offense that requires a juvenile intake officer to make a report with the school division superintendent to the list of such instances that must be disclosed to a school principal for the protection of the juvenile, his fellow students, and school personnel.

Principal Incident Reports HB 1114 (Hudson) would have eliminated the requirement that school principals report certain enumerated acts that may constitute a misdemeanor offense to law enforcement. Note that while this legislation failed, similar legislation (HB 257 (Mullin) and SB 729 (McClellan)) did pass.