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 the behavior, social, and emotional skills needed to be successful in schools and in life. School is a positive place to learn, to make mistakes, and to explore new ideas. Students learn to collaborate, develop empathy for others, manage and express their emotions and behaviors in healthy ways, and take responsibility for their actions. Skills including self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making are taught in various ways throughout a student’s academic career.

Fairfax County Public Schools use a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) framework to support students’ academic, behavior, social-emotional, and wellness needs. These needs are connected and, as a result, schoolwide practices must support a whole-child approach. School teams make decisions based on data to provide differentiated classroom instruction and teach the necessary skills for all students. FCPS uses the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) within the MTSS framework to design, teach and reinforce necessary skills.

  • Tier 1: Teach social, emotional, and behavioral skills to all students. Recognize and encourage students when they demonstrate these skills and are responsible citizens of the school.
  • Tier 2: Provide additional instruction and practice in small groups, in collaboration with families, for students who have not yet developed identified skills.
  • Tier 3: Develop an individualized intervention, which emphasizes the teaching of new skills, in collaboration with the family and school staff.

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 impact on others in determining when students need help with behavior, and if so, what administrative responses are appropriate.

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 Regulation 2601 -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 Student and Staff Behavior Support Flowchart begins with a list of preventions, which are approaches that build relationships, teach and encourage behaviors, and promote learning. Strategies such as teaching expectations and routines, instruction of behavior and social and emotional learning skills, high rates of positive feedback, use of preventative prompts, and holding Morning Meeting or Advisory are recommended. Next, the flowchart addresses when a behavior interferes with learning. Strategies that may be used by the teacher in the moment to stop the behavior are listed. Using a calm, neutral tone, staff may use one or more strategies with the goal of returning to teaching, encouraging, and building relationships as quickly as possible. Strategies are presented from the quickest and easiest to implement such as offering positive feedback or reinforcing language focused on what should be occurring while using planned ignoring of the problem behavior, moving in proximity to the student, using a signal or non-verbal cue, or a reminder or verbal prompt.

More intensive strategies may be needed for a student to calm and self-regulate or fix what has been broken or interrupted. In these cases, a logical consequence, one that fits the situation, may be applied such as making an amends, loss of a privilege, or positive time out/take-a-break. Lastly, if a student needs time away from the setting to calm and re-establish self-control, taking a brief time out in class or in another classroom with a Buddy Teacher is appropriate.

If after trying three strategies, the problem behavior does not decrease in intensity and/or frequency, ask for an administrator's support by completing an Office Discipline Referral (ODR). It is always best practice to conference with a student to truly understand and hear their perspective, insert their voice and restore the relationship. These conversations are likely to determine solutions and identify possible academic, behavioral, social, and emotional skills that require support.

Disciplinary Procedures

Positive approaches to student discipline and collaboration among a parent, teachers, and school administrators have proven to be the best way to teach expected conduct and responsible citizenship. 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 their 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 Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
  • 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 their own words. The student will be told that they do 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 region assistant superintendent.
  • Parents may appeal all disciplinary decisions that would cause the student to be kept out of school.

Police Involvement:

  • 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, they 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 2601.35P, 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 their 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 their 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.

Reassignment

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.

Expulsion

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.

Additional Consequences

A student who has been suspended or referred to the Division Superintendent may have ongoing consequences when the student 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 they are taking positive steps as a returning member of the school community.

General Disciplinary Procedures 

  • Behavior Incident Occurs
  • The principal or closest staff member will take appropriate action to stop the incident and the principal will begin the investigation to determine next steps
  • The student is given the opportunity to explain what happened; if the infraction may lead to a referral to the Division Superintendent, the administrator will make reasonable and timely efforts to notify the parent/guardians before continuing the investigation
  • Written statements are voluntary
  • The principal will decide appropriate interventions and sanctions based upon the investigation outcomes, notify parents/guardians of the decision, and document outcomes in the student information system

Examples of School Based Interventions/Sanctions

School-Based Interventions

  • Re-teach expected behavior with required practice
  • Student/teacher conference and reflection on behavior
  • Admin/parent conference
  • Parent attends one day of school with student
  • Behavior contract
  • Conflict resolution with school counselor
  • Referral to school psychologist or school social worker
  • Substance Abuse Program specialist referral
  • Restorative justice intervention
  • Referral to community resources

School-Based Sanctions

  • Admonition and counseling
  • After-school detention
  • Loss of privileges for a fixed period of time
  • Probationary conditions
  • Removal from class
  • Alternative Instructional Arrangement (AIA)
  • In-School Suspension (ISS)

Complaints regarding an in-school intervention/consequence can be addressed to the assistant principal, or principal and then region assistant superintendent. The ombudsman can also be contacted if needed.

Short-Term Suspension

  • Up to ten days depending on the behavior.
  • Parents are notified of the suspension in writing, which includes the infraction, start and end date oft he suspension, and the right to appeal.
  • Students will have the opportunity to receive full credit for work performed when removed from the classroom.
  • Written appeals are directed first to the principal, then to the Division Superintendent/Hearings Office.

Referral to the Division Superintendent

  • Based upon the infraction, a student may be suspended out-of-school pending the hearing before the Division Superintendent.
  • When suspended out of school, a student is not allowed on any school property without specific permission.
  • A case manager from the Office of Out-of-School Support will be assigned to ensure the student has academic support during the suspension.
  • Written appeals are directed to the full School Board.

Special Education Considerations

  • Students with disabilities are ensured necessary accommodations when providing a written statement.
  • Students with an intellectual or developmental disability who may be suspended will not be asked for a verbal or written statement before a parent has been notified.
  • Prior to making a decision to suspend a student out of-school, the principal will consult with the student’s IEP team to review the IEP and take into consideration any special circumstances regarding the student.
  • 10 or more cumulative days of out-of-school suspension requires a Manifestation Determination Review and an IEP meeting to propose day 11 services or complete an FBA/BIP.

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