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. Expectations for student behavior, as well as skills for resolving conflicts, managing emotions, and getting along in the classroom are taught to students throughout the year. Children are encouraged and coached each day on how to work with others. When you also speak to your child about treating others with kindness, and keeping school a safe, drug free, and caring place, it can have a huge impact on his or her behavior. When there is a problem at school, the principal will try to reach you to work with you to improve the behavior. Please be sure the school has your current phone number at all times.

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who has been expelled or suspended for more than 30 days from another school district or whose private school has withdrawn admission.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. Discussion about dress code violations shall be held privately and maintain the dignity of the student.

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 private parts or show an excessive amount of bare skin.
  • Contain studs
  • 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, including THC-A or cannabidiol oil with authorization from a licensed practitioner, 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). In most situations, the SRO or other police officer will contact the parents before questioning a child. 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. Except as noted above, the SRO is not involved in school discipline matters.

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.

Restorative Justice

A formal process facilitated by trained and skilled facilitators which brings together students involved in wrongdoing and those impacted to discuss the incident, understand who has been affected, and to create an agreement for reparation of harm.

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.

Attendance

School attendance is a critical component in a child’s academic success.

Did you know?

  • Chronic absenteeism (missing 18 or more school days per year) is a primary cause of lower academic achievement even when the absences are "excused" or understandable.
  • Regular school attendance in elementary school improves the chances that your child will read on grade level.
  • Students who attend 90 percent or more of the school year are more likely to graduate from high school on time
  • Absences can be a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with school work, dealing with peer conflicts, or facing some other potentially serious difficulty.

If a student accrues multiple absences school officials will attempt to make contact with the child’s parents and/or guardians to discuss reasons and solutions for the absences.

Help is Available:
Parents and/or guardians are encouraged to contact their child’s school if they are concerned that their child is not regularly attending school.

For additional information on school attendance, please visit www.fcps.edu/attendance.

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

To learn more on how FCPS addresses bullying, contact 571-423-4274.

Discrimination

Discrimination is treating someone unequally based on a certain characteristic in a way that interferes with a person’s education and/or academic performance. Discrimination based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, age, marital status, genetic information, national origin, mental or physical disability, or protected veteran status is strictly prohibited.

Discriminatory Harassment

Discriminatory harassment is verbal, physical, written, graphic, or electronic conduct that disparages or shows hostility toward an individual or group of individuals based on a certain characteristic (referenced above). Examples of discriminatory harassment include: epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, jokes, written, printed, or graphic material that contains offensive, demeaning, or degrading images or comments. Discriminatory harassment may create an intimidating or offensive learning environment that interferes with a student’s education and/or academic performance.

Title IX: Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is a broad term that encompasses a range of sex-based conduct prohibited by Title IX. Title IX is a federal civil rights law the prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding. Sexual misconduct is a form of sex-based discrimination.

Sexual misconduct includes, but is not limited to, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual touching, sexual assault, stalking, and sexual exploitation.

Retaliation

Retaliation against individuals who report or participate as witnesses in the investigation of a discrimination, harassment, and/or sexual misconduct complaint is strictly prohibited. Retaliation means any adverse action taken against a person for making a report of discrimination, harassment, and/or sexual misconduct; or participating in any activity related to the complaint. Retaliation includes threatening, intimidating, harassing, coercing, or any other conduct that would discourage someone from reporting or participating in a discriminatory harassment or sexual misconduct investigation.

FCPS Commitment

FCPS is committed to responding to all complaints of discrimination in a manner that stops the discrimination, prevents it from happening again, and helps support the person who was discriminated against to make sure that any harm done by the discrimination is addressed. All students have a right to attend school and not fear the interruption of their education by others who behave in a discriminatory manner.

For more information about discrimination, the FCPS Title IX response, the FCPS discrimination and sexual misconduct regulations, or to file a complaint, go to: https://www.fcps.edu/equity-and-employee-relations; or call 571-423-3070.

Social Media

Social media is a powerful platform for engaging students and including them in conversations that affect their ability to thrive in school and life.
When using social media to interact with Fairfax County public schools, students are expected to:

  • Be polite.
  • Refrain from using profanity and racial or ethnic slurs.
  • Remain respectful.
  • Only tag @fcpsnews on tweets which contain appropriate messaging.
  • Remember that once a message is online, it can't be taken back.
  • Only represent themselves when messaging. Creating fake FCPS social media accounts is not acceptable.
  • Remain truthful in their messaging.

School administrators may be notified if a student conducts him- or herself inappropriately when communicating with the school division or others via social media.

Administrators and/or other FCPS staff members may be notified if it appears that a student may be in crisis.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please text NEEDHELP to 85511, call 1-800-273-TALK, or dial 911.

Vaping

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse defines vaping as, “the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device.” Though it may look like water vapor, the aerosol actually contains many toxic chemicals which have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart diseases.

E-cigarettes are known by many other names, such as e-hookahs, mods, Juul pens, or vape pens.

The Juul “pen,” which looks like a flash drive, has become very popular with teens. A Juul “pod” contains the nicotine of 20 cigarettes, and rates of addiction to vaping are very high.

Please let your child know that vaping is not safe, and that you do not want them to start.

Vapor products are not allowed on school grounds or at school sponsored activities. Students who are found to possess, use, or distribute vapor products will be subject to discipline as outlined in Regulation 2601.33.

For additional information, please visit https://www.centeronaddiction.org/ or www.cdc.gov or search for “vaping” or “juuling” on www.fcps.edu.

The Student Rights and Responsibilities explains expectations for student behavior and adult responses to enhance school safety and to create a fair, equitable and supportive school environment.