Student Rights and Responsibilities Important Topics to Discuss with Your Child

Helpful Information for a Successful School Experience

This section covers topics that parents and students frequently ask about.  The regulations found in the appendices explain many of the items in detail.

Other information, such as dress code and cell phone use at school, is intended to help you and your child better understand expectations for conduct that will contribute to a positive, rewarding school experience.

The charts (located on the Interventions and Disciplinary Procedures page) outline interventions and possible consequences by offense for elementary and secondary students.

Admission from Another School District or Private School
FCPS may postpone or refuse admission to a student who has been expelled or suspended for more than 30 days from another school district or whose private school has withdrawn admission.  School officials carefully review records in order to recommend the best placement for the student.

Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs
A healthy learning environment is free of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, inhalants, and look-alike or synthetic drugs.  This includes prescription and nonprescription medications that a student is not authorized to have in school (see Medications).  The School Board prohibits the possession, use, distribution, or sale of these substances in any form on school property.  Students suspected of being under the influence are subject to breath sample or drug tests.  Consequences vary according to the student’s age, the nature, and number of offenses, and Fairfax County and Virginia law.

Assault, Fighting
Students who become angry or upset with anyone are encouraged to resolve conflicts peacefully.  Teachers, counselors, and other school personnel can help students find civil, nonviolent ways to handle disagreements.  A student who threatens to harm or physically attacks another student or staff member—or is part of a group that does this—is subject to consequences.  

Attendance
Students who attend school regularly and arrive on time are more likely to perform well academically.  FCPS expects students to be in school and follow their assigned schedules unless their absence is excused due to illness, a death in the family, a medical or dental appointment, or religious obligations.  Parents must give the school a written explanation for any student absence or late arrival.  Parents are asked to call or e-mail the school attendance line if their child will be late or miss school.  If school officials do not receive notice, parents will get a call and an e-mail through the 
e-Notify system notifying them that their child has not arrived at school as expected.  Absence or tardiness is unexcused if the parent does not inform the school in advance or supply a note when the student returns to school.  Students are required to make up missed work. 
 
Bus Conduct
FCPS bus transportation is an extension of the school day, and the same student behavior standards that apply in the classroom apply on the bus and at the bus stop.  Riders are expected to respect the driver’s authority, remain in their seats, keep their hands to themselves and their voices low, keep the aisles clear, and generally behave in a way that contributes to a safe, pleasant trip to and from school.  A driver may report a student’s misconduct to the principal for discipline, and in serious situations, bus privileges may be taken away.  See Standards of Conduct for Students Riding School Buses for details.

Cell Phones, Laptops, Tablets, Other Portable Devices
FCPS is committed to assisting students and staff members in creating a 21st century learning environment.  To support this progress, with classroom teacher approval, students may use their personal devices (smartphones, laptops, netbooks, tablets, etc.) to access the Internet and collaborate with other students during the school day.  FCPS is not responsible for loss or damage of students’ devices.

Cheating, Plagiarism
Honorable school citizens take credit only for work that is their own.  Deliberately copying or using the work of others is considered cheating, plagiarism, or forgery.  Students are prohibited from sharing work or discussing assessments with others.

Disruption
A student who willfully disturbs a class or disobeys the teacher makes it difficult for the rest of the class to stay on task and continue learning, and may put others at risk.  This is also true at events such as athletic competitions and field trips.  Disruptive behavior includes defying staff authority, using offensive language or gestures, making threats, and fighting.  Laser devices, fireworks, matches, and lighters are also not permitted at school and other school-sponsored activities.

Dress Code
FCPS respects students’ right to express themselves in the way they dress.  It is important, however, that their appearance is tasteful and appropriate for a 
K-12 school setting. 
 
Clothing and accessories should not:
•    Display vulgar, discriminatory, or obscene language or images
•    Promote illegal or violent conduct
•    Contain threats or gang symbols
•    Promote the unlawful use of weapons, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or drug paraphernalia
•    Expose cleavage, private parts, the midriff, or undergarments, and in the case of pants, the waistband should not fall below the hips 
•    Contain studs
•    Be see-through or sexually provocative
•    Include caps or other head coverings unless required for religious or medical reasons.

Expression
Students have the right to express themselves through speech, assembly, distributing literature, and other ways.  They are expected to communicate their opinions in ways that do not interfere with the rights of others, cause disruption or harm, damage another’s reputation, or break the law.  Middle and high school students should submit materials they want to display or distribute to the student government for review. 

Gambling
Gambling—betting, wagering, playing games of chance—is not allowed in the school environment.

Gang-related Activities
All FCPS students deserve to attend school without concern for their welfare or exposure to undesirable peer pressure.  Staff members are alert to students whose appearance or behavior indicates they may be involved in a gang that supports intimidation or illegal activities.  Signs include certain clothing, tattoos, accessories, trademarks, and suspicious group activities.  Consequences are serious for students whose appearance or behavior creates a disruption or actively promotes gang affiliation.

Medications at School
To ensure that students take prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medications safely, the school health room must administer the medications.  The parent must bring the medication to the school health room for storage and provide documentation for administering it. 
 
Pledge of Allegiance, One Minute of Silence
Students are expected to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and to observe one minute of silence each day, unless the student or his or her parent objects to participation in such exercises.  Nonparticipating students are expected to sit quietly, or to stand silently, and to refrain from engaging in any disruptive or distracting activity.  A student’s decision to participate or not to participate should be respected.

Police Involvement
Under the Code of Virginia, principals must immediately report certain violations to the police.  These include assault and battery that results in bodily injury, sexual assault, wounding or stalking a person, conduct that involves alcohol or drugs, threats against school personnel, and conduct involving weapons, bombs, or other explosive devices.  Under these circumstances, the principal may contact the school resource officer (SRO) who may take the lead in the investigation by questioning the student and taking necessary action.  If there is immediate risk of danger, the SRO will act to alleviate the risk and may question the student without advance notice to parents.  The principal will contact parents as soon as possible.  

Property Violations
FCPS expects students to respect school property.  Damaging or threatening to damage, stealing, and vandalizing—as well as being on school property when not authorized—are subject to discipline. 

Restitution 
A student who damages, destroys, or steals another’s property, including property owned by FCPS, is responsible for compensating the owner for the loss by restoring the property to its original condition or paying for it to be repaired or replaced. 

Search, Seizure
FCPS depends on students to help keep schools safe and drug-free.  School officials may conduct random inspections of lockers, desks, and other areas on school property.  If they have reason to believe a student has a weapon, alcohol, drugs, stolen property, or similar evidence, they may search his or her backpack, purse, pockets, outer garments, electronic device, or vehicle parked on school property.  Items that do not belong at school, or are being misused, may be taken away from the student and returned to the parent.
 
Student Activities
School is more meaningful and enjoyable when a student becomes involved in activities such as clubs, teams, performing groups, yearbook, drama, student government, and safety patrols.  Participation in these activities is a privilege, and students who participate are expected to maintain good grades and behavior.

Student Advisory Councils
Participation in a high school Student Advisory Council gives students an opportunity to advise the School Board about issues that impact them.  

Student Government
By participating in student government at their schools, students experience the rights and responsibilities of self-government and have an active role in managing school affairs.  Student governments are required to operate according to established guidelines and direction from school staff.  An activity that does not meet guidelines may be cancelled or restricted.

Student Records
FCPS maintains student records in accordance with federal and state laws, under carefully prescribed conditions.  Parents have the right to review their children’s official records, and eligible students aged 18 years or older may review their own records.  Directory information—such as yearbooks, honor rolls, commencement programs, and sports statistics—may be released without parent consent. 

Students Aged 18 and Older
With some exceptions, students aged 18 and older are considered adults under Virginia law.  They are still subject to school rules and regulations.  They may sign a declaration if they want to act in place of their parent in certain situations, such as field trips and questioning by police.  Parents will continue to be contacted regarding academic performance, emergency matters, and disciplinary action. 

Technology Use
FCPS’ Internet network and computers allow students access to vast resources and a creative outlet to pursue writing, art, music, science, math, and many other subjects.  With that opportunity comes responsibility.  Students are expected to use the technology ethically, respect the privacy and work of others, leave the workstation in good condition for the next user, and generally follow established rules for safety and security.  The same expectations apply to the use of student owned devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.  See Acceptable Use Policy for Student Network Access in Appendix section.

Virginia High School League Eligibility  
A student earns the privilege to participate in interscholastic athletics by meeting certain standards set by the Virginia High School League, the school district, and the school.  Participation is dependent on positive conduct and citizenship.  Meeting the intent and spirit of League standards will prevent the athlete, the team, the school, and the community from being penalized.  It is the responsibility of the student and parent to know the rules. 

Visitors
Schools welcome parents and other visitors who want to know more about our programs, meet staff members, and tour the facilities.  All visitors must register at the school office upon arrival and may be required to wear an identification badge.  Meetings and classroom visits should be arranged in advance.  People who enter school buildings without reporting to the office or who disturb or interfere with school activities will be prohibited from remaining on school property and may be reported as trespassers.

Weapons 
Students are not permitted to possess any gun, knife, explosive device, ammunition, object that is capable of discharging a projectile, or other weapon on school property.  This includes starter and paintball guns, blades, brass knuckles, mace, and similar devices, as well as objects that look like weapons.  Consequences are strict and aligned with the Federal Gun-Free Schools Act. 
 

Bullying

The definition of bullying according to the Virginia Department of Education is:

Any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate, or humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma. 

“Bullying” includes cyberbullying.

“Bullying” does not include ordinary teasing, horseplay, argument, or peer conflict.

Some key elements of bullying are: 
•    Intentionally aggressive behavior designed to inflict harm
•    Repetitive behavior planned into the future
•    Interpersonal relationship marked by an imbalance of power

Discriminatory Harassment

Verbal, electronic, or physical action that denigrates or shows hostility toward an individual because of his or her race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identification, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by federal and/or state law.  Harassment may create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning environment, and/or interfere with an individual’s academic performance.

Sexual Harassment

Harassment that includes unwelcome sexual advances, regardless of sexual orientation; requests for sexual favors; and other inappropriate verbal, electronic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

All students have the right to attend school and not fear the interruption of their education by others who intimidate, humiliate, or cause harm.  FCPS has programs and activities throughout the K-12 curriculum to address bullying and harassment to include disciplinary consequences if they are required.  FCPS believes that staff members, parents, and students are the key to help stop bullying and harassment when it occurs.    

To learn more on how FCPS addresses bullying and harassment, contact 571-423-4270. 

The Student Rights and Responsibilities document conveys the expectations for student behavior in our schools so that all students can experience a conducive learning environment.