Student Discipline, Required Behavior and
The Essex Westford School District (EWSD) and its Member School Boards believe that students should be expected to maintain standards of behavior which are considered appropriate for young people and which ensure a safe and respectful school environment. As representatives of the school, students are expected to assume the responsibilities for appropriate conduct while at school related functions and school related or sponsored events off campus. Let courtesy, consideration and respect for people and property be the distinctive mark of all student while in school and at school- related functions, regardless of location.
High standards in relationships with one another, with school staff, and members of the public are essential. It is each student’s responsibility to read and be familiar with school rules and policies including all student expectations which are referenced in the respective student handbooks or program rules.
It is the policy of the EWSD to maintain a safe, orderly, civil and positive learning environment. In order to ensure that each school is free from disruptive misconduct, a system of classroom and school management practices, supported by consistent, clear and fair disciplinary procedures, will be utilized. The goal of this policy is to create an environment where the rules for student behavior are clearly stated, are understood and accepted by students and staff, and are applied in compliance with due process requirements. This policy is to be applied in conjunction with each School's overall discipline plan.
Scope of Student Misconduct Which Falls Under This Policy
The Essex Westford School District and its member districts (District) are committed to providing a safe and supportive school environment in which all students are treated with respect. This policy involves incident(s) and/or misconduct that occur on school property, on a school bus/vehicle or at a school-sponsored activity/event when the misconduct makes the continued presence of the pupil harmful to the welfare of the school and its students and staff.
This policy also applies to misconduct not on school property, not on a school bus/vehicle or not at a school-sponsored activity/event where direct harm to the welfare of the school and its students and staff can be demonstrated.
Further, this policy applies to misconduct not on school property, not on a school bus/vehicle or not at a school-sponsored activity/event where the misconduct can be shown to pose a clear and substantial interference with another student’s equal access to educational programs.
Immediate Removal From School
Nothing within this policy shall prevent a Superintendent, Principal or his/her designee, subject to subsequent due process procedures, from removing immediately from a school, school activity, school property, school vehicle, etc. any student who brings or possesses a weapon to school and who poses an immediate threat or a continuing threat of disrupting the academic progress or whose presence may be harmful to the welfare of the school and its students and staff.
It is further the intent of the Board to maintain a student discipline system consistent with the requirements of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Vermont State Board of Education rules.
Under this policy “school property” means any setting which is owned, leased, subcontracted or otherwise under the control and supervision of the School District. It includes school grounds, buildings, parking lots, facilities, school-sponsored events whether held on or off of school grounds and vehicles used to transport students to and from school or school activities including school buses and personal vehicles.
Under this policy Long Term Suspended (expelled) means the termination of educational services to a student for greater than 10 days up to the remainder of the school year or up to 90 school days whichever is longer. At the discretion of the Board and upon recommendation of the administration, a suspended student may be afforded limited educational services at a site other than the school during the period of expulsion under this policy. A long term suspension (expulsion) hearing conducted under this policy shall afford due process as required by Law and Vermont State Board of Education Rules. In addition, any student who brings a firearm to school shall be referred to a law enforcement agency and a report may be made to the Vermont Department of Children and Families as necessary. A student found by the Board to have brought a firearm to school shall be long term suspended and expelled from the District’s schools and events for at least one calendar year. However, the Board may modify the expulsion on a case-by-case basis.
The school administration shall make the expectations and rules of each school known to parents and students. It is the responsibility of the Principal or his/her designee to develop and implement individual School Discipline Plans for Responding to Student Misbehavior.
The Principal or his/her designee shall in their sole discretion determine the appropriate disciplinary consequence(s) for each instance of misconduct, inappropriate behavior or violation of student expectations and rules. The procedure for instituting such disciplinary consequences shall include communication with the parents/guardians of the student and if necessary, law enforcement, the Department of Education or the student’s sending school district. The Principal or his/her designee shall adhere to the EWSD policy on Suspension of Students and the Vermont State Board of Education Rules governing the discipline of students in all matters that fall under this policy. The decision of the Principal or his/her designee shall be final and appeals of administrative disciplinary decisions will not be permitted. The School Board will necessarily only be involved in the long term suspension of students and the resulting hearing.
Regardless of the offense or resulting consequence, however, the School Board expects the Administration to recognize that disciplinary consequences should be applied in conjunction with other penalties, limitations and programs. Examples may include loss of certain privileges such as the use of electronic devices or parking, voluntary attendance in a treatment program and procedures described in the district’s drug and alcohol policy, mediation sessions, anger management attendance, school disciplinary councils, conflict resolution training, the student code of conduct, any athletic training rules and expectations, classroom rules, school club or team rules and expectations, extra-curricular eligibility guidelines or other predetermined rules of conduct.
While the EWSD Administration and member school boards believe that every offense should elicit an appropriate disciplinary consequence, it also recognizes the need for discretion and sensitivity in regard to the unique circumstances of each case. What follows are, for the most part, guidelines and benchmarks. The administration may use its discretion and judgment, where such flexibility is permitted, in the application of consequences and the range of appropriate discipline to apply in each circumstance as warranted.
Student and Parent/Guardian Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of each student to contribute to a safe and productive learning environment in the school by demonstrating respect and consideration for fellow students and adults. This includes complying with all EWSD policies and rules of conduct of the specific School and individual classrooms or programs. Both students and their parents/guardians are required to be familiar with all EWSD policies and rules of conduct for the specific school in which the student is enrolled as well as all rules and expectations found in the EWSD Parent/Student Handbook or individual classrooms.
Given these expectations, this discipline policy will attempt to alert students and parents to the range of offenses and their consequences through examples of inappropriate conduct and the possible resulting consequences. This list of offenses will not be all inclusive nor can the precise consequence(s) for most offenses be predicted.
General Student Expectations and Rules
This list of expectations and misconduct found below is not and will not be all inclusive nor can the precise consequence(s) for most offenses be predicted. It is provided as a starting point for expected student behavior and to be used in conjunction with other school rules and policies and handbooks.
- There shall be no possession, use, distribution or sale of illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, tobacco or alcoholic beverages on school grounds, at school functions or events, regardless of their location, school sponsored activities, school vehicles, or in conjunction with the use of school property and/or equipment. This prohibition includes being under the influence of such substances as determined by school staff.
- Weapons of any type are prohibited from all EWSD member district schools, properties, vehicles, parking lots, activities or events. The use and possession of weapons of any type or replicas or a facsimile of a weapon will not be tolerated by EWSD schools. Students are not permitted to carry or possess (openly or concealed) a dangerous weapon on school grounds including lockers and personal vehicles parked on school grounds, at school sponsored events, on school vehicles or at any school activity or event held off campus. Weapons include but are not limited to firearms, rifles, handguns, any type of knife or cutting tool, and any object which could be used to inflict injury or any object which is used in a manner to inflict injury.
- Students shall not attend school or school-related functions and activities while under the influence of drugs or alcohol regardless of being in possession of such substances or not.
- There shall be no fighting, threatening or assaulting behavior of any type on school grounds or vehicles or at any school function regardless of location.
- There shall be no lying, theft, stealing, cheating, or plagiarism. Crimes involving theft of property or services from the District or another student will also be reported to local law enforcement.
- There shall be no academic dishonesty such as cheating, willful plagiarism or misrepresentation in any way of one’s own work. For purposes of this section, plagiarism shall be defined as the presentation of another’s work--the ideas, arguments, facts, or phraseology--as one’s own. Unacknowledged quotation of another’s sentences, phrases, or key words is plagiarism. Unacknowledged paraphrasing of someone else’s ideas or arguments is plagiarism.
- Students are expected to be courteous and respectful to staff, faculty, and one Students that are disruptive in class or during instruction will face disciplinary consequences. Students are expected to follow all written and oral directions and expectations given by District staff. Threats of any sort, profanity, insubordination and harassment are strictly prohibited. Students are required to identify themselves and answer questions when directed to do so by District staff.
- Students are expected to know and obey school rules contained in the EWSD Parent Student Handbook, provided by individual programs and teachers or coaches or otherwise made known from time to time by District Staff or policy. Students are also expected to obey and follow all rules and expectations outlined and required for participation in any sport, club or extra curricular program.
- No student, including student members, participants and leaders of organizations, teams, clubs or other school associated groups, shall plan, encourage, or engage in hazing. The prohibition against any hazing activity applies to the behavior of students who are participating in the districts’ extra/co-curricular activities or extra-curricular and/or co-curricular programs that occur on or off school property, during and after school hours, and/or any school sanctioned activity. Hazing may not occur on or off school grounds.
- There shall be no bullying by any means of any student. Students are expected be remain respectful in their communications with other students. Bullying is defined as any act or actions including acts conducted by electronic means which are directed against a student by another student or group of students which is repeated over time; and is intended to ridicule, humiliate, or intimidate the student. Bullying acts or actions occur during the school day on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity, or before or after the school day on a school bus or at a school-sponsored activity; or does not occur during the school day on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity and can be shown to pose a clear and substantial interference with another student’s right to access educational programs. Bullying may not occur on or off school grounds or through electronic means such as texts or email.
- There shall be no harassment of any student or staff by any student. “Harassment” means an incident or incidents of verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct, including any incident conducted by electronic means, based on or motivated by a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability that has the purpose or effect of objectively and substantially undermining and detracting from or interfering with a student’s educational performance or access to school resources or creating an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. Harassment of students may not occur on or off school grounds.
- Students are expected to attend school and be timely to class or scheduled activities. Unexcused absences, skipping of class and tardiness to class and/or school are subject to disciplinary consequences including reporting the matter as truancy to local officials.
- Students are expected to be respectful of District property (including buildings, parking lots, offices, equipment, athletic fields, computers, servers, materials) and facilities (on or off campus). Students must remain out of unauthorized areas and property. Student access to District property and facilities is subject to authorized times and staff supervision and approval. Unauthorized access to property and facilities constitutes trespassing. The deliberate destruction, damage or vandalism of school property or facilities will result in disciplinary consequences. The use of fraud in any school-related activity is prohibited. This section is intended to include willful creation of any safety hazard or mischievous activation of a fire alarm or security system. Such misconduct will be referred to law enforcement for prosecution.
- Students are expected to know and obey the Technology Acceptable Use Policy in order to enjoy the privilege of accessing the District computer system and technology. Unauthorized access to or inappropriate use of the Districts technology system or equipment is prohibited. Violations of the expected behavior associated with the use of technology will result in a loss of that privilege, disciplinary consequences and/or referral to law enforcement.
- Students who have been granted the privilege of parking on District property must obey all District rules as they pertain to parking and driving on campus. Failure to adhere to any school rules (not just those pertaining to motor vehicles) and policy may result in the loss of the parking privilege.
Results of Violation these Expectations
Consequences and the result of any violation of EWSD policy and student rules or expectations will be determined on a case by case basis by the Principal or his/her designee in most situations (unless mandated by policy). The Principal or his/her designee has discretion to use the appropriate disciplinary consequence depending on the misconduct and violation. The range of consequences for violation of this policy includes removal from eligibility for participation in extra-curricular activities (such as clubs or sports) or events (such as dances) administrative restriction (e.g., assignment to the PACS classroom at EHS or to a “time out” room or area in an elementary school), loss of privileges (such as parking or internet or electronic devices), removal from a program, club, team or extra curricular activity, detention, disciplinary warning, probation, suspension from school, permanent exclusion from participation in extracurricular activities, clubs or sports, expulsion or long term suspension, permanent removal from class without the opportunity for substitution, and/or law enforcement intervention as deemed appropriate by school officials. Definition of those sanctions as well as procedures for suspension and expulsion are contained elsewhere in this policy manual. 1 It is the responsibility of every student and staff member to be familiar with these school board policies and expectations outlined in the EWSD Student/Parent Handbook. Students incurring discipline under this policy will have their parents or guardians so notified and given an opportunity for due process before any disciplinary consequence involving a suspension from school.
Chronic violations of student disciplinary rules and expectations will result in increased severity of the disciplinary consequences and may ultimately result in a long term suspension.
Additional Consequences for Drug, Alcohol, and Weapons
Students who violate the drug, alcohol, and weapons expectations, described in this policy (Nos. 1-3) shall be excluded for three months from participation in all co- and extracurricular activities including year-end or graduation exercises. In addition, the administration will notify the police of these offenses. The three month exclusion will be consecutive months while school is in session and will not include the summer vacation. It may begin at the end of one school year (May or June) and be completed at the beginning of the next school year (September or October). For purposes of this policy co- and extracurricular activities include participation on sports teams, clubs, drama productions, attendance at athletic contests, dances, graduation exercises and those school sponsored organizations, activities and events not directly related to the academic an/or testing programs. First-time offenders of these violations may reduce the length of their extracurricular exclusion to a minimum of one month. This reduction can be accomplished if the student agrees to undergo a chemical/behavioral assessment and cooperatively comply with and recommendations resulting from that assessment. Referral to an appropriate assessment agency and subsequent follow-up will be coordinated through the school principal’s office in conjunction with guidance and/or wellness program personnel. A student may elect to pursue this option anytime during the three month exclusion. Repeat offenders of these violations may not reduce the length of the extracurricular exclusion through this option. However, they are encouraged to pursue either a chemical or behavioral assessment which school personnel will coordinate for them. Any and all costs for assessment and treatment will be borne by the student and their family.
Consequences for Violating the Other Expectations
Consequences for violating the other expectations described in this policy (Nos. 4-15) and other expectations and rules as defined by the Parent Student Handbook or individual school or classroom rules shall be determined at the discretion of school officials and may include, but not be limited to, this policy’s range of consequences section as described above.
Act 58 of the 2011 Vermont Legislature: An act relating to making miscellaneous amendments to education laws (2001 Vt. Laws Act 58)
16 V.S.A. § 1161a (Discipline)
16 V.S.A. § 1162 (Suspension or Expulsion of Students) 16 V.S.A. § 565 (harassment),
16 V.S.A. §1166 (Possession of a Firearm at School) (State law pursuant to Federal law) 13 V.S.A. §§4004, 4016 (Criminal offenses)
20 U.S.C. §8921(Gun Free Schools Act of 1994) 18 U.S.C. §921 (Federal definition of firearms) 20 U.S.C. §§1400 et seq.(IDEA)
29 U.S.C. §794 (Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973)
Vt. State Board of Education Manual of Rules & Practices, §§4300,4311, 4312 Policy and Rules Cross References:
Student Suspension Policy
Other Sanctions Instead of Suspension Policy Prevention of Harassment of Students Policy
Bullying Policy Hazing Policy
Student Interrogations & Searches Policy Weapons Policy
EWSD Student Parent Handbook
Athletic and Extra Curricular Code of Conduct and Student Ath