Student Rights and Responsibilities Interventions and Disciplinary Procedures
FCPS is committed to working with parents to help children develop the characteristics of responsible citizenship.
Principals, teachers, and parents work together to teach students what behavior is expected in school. Students learn throughout the year that caring for and helping others in the school, and working together can make school a positive place to learn, to make mistakes, and to explore new ideas. Students are taught to understand that their actions can affect another person, and that every person in the school has a responsibility to express his or her ideas and emotions in a respectful manner.
CPS uses a Positive Behavior Approach (PBA) to teach and reinforce expected behavior. PBA uses three steps, or tiers, of support, to help students behave in school:
- Teaching expected behaviors to all students, and recognizing and encouraging students when they are following the rules and being good citizens of the school.
- Providing additional lessons and practice for students who do not behave as expected.
- Working with an individual student and his or her parents and/or guardians and teachers to help the student learn new behaviors or new ways to express strong emotions.
Teachers and school administrators use careful judgment and consider many factors including the age of the child, how the child has responded to past interventions, and whether an action hurt another person in determining when students need help with behavior, and if so, what administrative responses are appropriate. Fairfax County Public Schools uses a Multi-Tiered System of Support to support the individual needs of each student using a whole-child approach. MTSS is a framework through which teams make decisions based on data to provide differentiated classroom instruction and the necessary academic, behavior, and social-emotional wellness supports for all students across all schools.
FCPS is committed to the consistent and equitable implementation of discipline policy, regulations, and practices across all schools and educational programs. The charts in Chapter II of Appendix D outline leveled responses, typically utilized by administrators as a guide, when addressing student behavior. The levels include social-emotional, behavioral, and academic supports provided by the school, working with you. In any given situation, based on unique circumstances, the principal may provide responses and interventions from other levels to best address student needs.
The school principal determines appropriate responses to most forms of misconduct and will work with you and your child’s teacher to determine what interventions might be needed to help ensure the problem behavior does not happen again.
Responses Without Suspension from School
FCPS officials work to help each student understand school rules and how his or her misconduct may affect others. In most situations, teachers and administrators first use responses that take place at school before considering out-of-school suspension. These responses may include:
- Use of a positive behavior approach
- Reteach desired behavior
- Restructure classroom practices based upon needs
- Address social skills and emotional skills that may contribute to behavior
- Private admonition and counseling by the teacher
- Counseling by another member of the staff
- Parent/Teacher/Administrator/Student conference
- Change in seating
- Restorative practices or conference
- Behavior contract/chart
- After-school detention
- Lunch detention
- Temporary removal of privileges such as parking, senior privileges, teams, clubs, and other school-sponsored activities
- Temporary removal from class
- Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)/Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)
In chronic or very serious situations, such as bringing a gun, distribution, repeated possession, or use of drugs on school grounds, the principal must submit a referral to the Division Superintendent. The principal may also make a referral to the Division Superintendent for other serious offenses, depending on the circumstances of the situation. The principal also includes information about the student’s past grades, attendance, behavior, and information provided by teachers, counselors, and others who know the student. By law, certain types of behavior are strictly prohibited and require that the principal make a referral to the Division Superintendent who will determine if additional disciplinary consequences should be imposed.
The following procedures apply when a student is involved in serious misconduct which may result in a suspension up to 10 days, with a referral to the Division Superintendent:
- The principal will take action to stop the incident, including calling the police or SRO when necessary to ensure student and staff safety.
- The principal will attempt to contact the parents as soon as possible and before questioning the student.
- Students will have a chance to talk with the principal about what happened. The SRO is not present while the principal speaks to students, unless there is a safety concern. The principal will not ask the student for a written statement or continue with questioning the student before notifying a parent. After notifying parents, the principal may ask the student to write down what happened in his or her own words. The student will be told that he or she does not have to write this statement.
- The principal will give parents information to help them understand the nature of the offense and the discipline process.
- Students and parents who disagree with staff decisions may present complaints to teachers, counselors, school administrators, and the regional assistant superintendent.
- Parents may appeal all disciplinary decisions that would cause the student to be kept out of school.
- FCPS and local law enforcement agencies have a signed agreement that outlines the role and responsibilities of SROs in the schools. This agreement can be found at https://www.fcps.edu/node/36886.
- For some serious, dangerous situations, the law requires that the principal immediately notify the police.
- An SRO may be called by an administrator to provide security, protection, or handling of contraband.
- If the principal is not required by law to immediately notify the police, but believes a law may have been broken, he or she will attempt to notify parents before calling the SRO or the police.
- Unless there is an immediate risk of danger, the SRO shall take immediate steps to contact parent before any questioning of a student.
Full information about each of the following procedures is found in Regulation 2601.34P, located in the Appendix.
Suspension from School
A principal may remove a student from school for up to ten days (short-term suspension) or recommend to the Division Superintendent that the student be removed for more than ten days (long-term suspension), when a student violates school rules. During suspension from school, the student may not participate in teams, clubs, and other school-sponsored activities, and may also be required to attend an intervention seminar. The student will be assigned work to be completed. The parent will be asked to come to school and get the assignments, or to make arrangements for another student to pick up the work. Completed assignments should be returned to school for grading. A staff member may call to see how the student is doing.
A student whose presence poses a continuing danger or disruption may be removed from school immediately. The student and parent will receive notice and have an opportunity to respond as soon as possible.
Referral to the Division Superintendent
When a student commits a serious violation, the principal may submit a referral to the Division Superintendent to determine whether the student will remain at his or her school, be long-term suspended, reassigned to a different school or program, or recommended to the School Board for expulsion. When a referral to the Division Superintendent is made, the parents and student have a right to participate in a hearing before the Division Superintendent’s hearing officers, who will determine the disciplinary outcome.
When a student is suspended from school pending his or her hearing, the student is assigned a teacher who will act as a case manager to help the student stay on track with assignments. Other direct support may also be provided.
A student who commits serious and/or repeated school-related offenses, or who is charged with certain serious crimes related to an alleged community-based incident may be reassigned to a different school or program, including to an alternative educational setting. Before a student can be reassigned, the parents and student have a right to participate in a hearing before the Division Superintendent’s hearing officers, who will determine the disciplinary outcome. Parents may appeal the hearing officer’s reassignment decision to the School Board, which will review the appeal on the written record.
Alternative Education Programs
A student may be referred to a nontraditional FCPS program that provides intensive supports to students with behavioral and academic difficulties, or a history of absenteeism. These programs help students set their own goals and provide a range of academic supports, counseling, behavior management, and related services. The student and parents have the opportunity to tour the programs and talk with staff members about the alternative learning choices available. If the student has significant mental health or substance abuse problems, the principal may also give parents information about appropriate programs offered in the community where school services are also available. A teacher, the counselor, or principal may recommend that the parent consider an alternative program, and will help make the referral for voluntary placement if agreed upon.
Students who bring certain weapons or illegal drugs to school must be expelled under Virginia law unless special circumstances are found. Principals may also refer students to the Division Superintendent for other serious violations. Before a student can be expelled, the parents and student have a right to participate in a hearing before the Division Superintendent and the School Board, where it is determined whether there are special circumstances and whether a different consequence might be more appropriate. If expelled, a student is not permitted to attend any school in FCPS for 365 calendar days, unless the School Board permits the student to attend an alternative educational setting during the expulsion. Expelled students may petition for readmission after one year.
A student who has been suspended or referred to the Division Superintendent may have ongoing consequences when he or she returns to school. Probationary conditions, community service, drug testing, and restitution are among the measures designed to provide an opportunity for the student to demonstrate that he or she is taking positive steps as a returning member of the school community.