Back to school means behavior rules to follow

As students prepare to return to school in a few weeks, this is a good time to remind them about the discipline policy that requires them to behave well at school.

Each student upon returning to school receives an abbreviated copy of Chapter 19, Hawaii Compilation of School Discipline Laws and Regulations, prepared Jan. 12, 2016. The original document is 48 pages. Expecting students and parents to read such a document is unrealistic and the most important points are spelled out in the abbreviated document.

When students in Kauai Teen Court are asked if they are familiar with the information in Chapter 19, most answer that they received a copy of it but didn’t read it. Only a few are familiar with the original document and it is usually because the student’s past behavior at school required a parent to understand the discipline the youth received at school.

The Hawaii State Department of Education website states, “Students need to feel and be safe at school. Research demonstrates a strong correlation between academic achievement and a safe school environment. Employees also deserve a safe workplace.”

“In order to keep our schools safe, rules have been established relating to student misconduct; these rules also govern searches of students and seizures of property. Hawaii Administrative Rules, Chapter 19, is state law. It’s important that students and parents review this information to be aware of the consequences of a Chapter 19 violation.”

At least 80 percent of misdemeanor and status offense referrals to Kauai Teen Court are because of offenses committed at school. Class A and B misdemeanor offenses at school are unlawful acts against the laws of the State of Hawaii. They include, but are not limited to, Assault 3, Mutual; Harassment; Disorderly Conduct; Promotion of Detrimental Drugs; Tobacco Products, Prohibited; Liquor Violation, Minor; and Criminal Property Damage. The most frequent status offense is Truancy.

All of the misdemeanor offenses listed are against the law and often result in suspension from school. The more serious offenses, such as drug or weapon possession can result in the child’s suspension for 92 school days or expulsion for an entire school year. Parents have access to an appeal process for youth suspended over 10 days.

Chapter 19 states that “if the principal recommends serious discipline other than crisis removal be imposed, the principal shall immediately notify the complex area superintendent to initiate disciplinary proceedings by obtaining verbal authorizations from the complex area superintendent.”

The document goes on to say:

(b) Upon obtaining verbal authorization from the complex area superintendent, the principal or the designee will make a good faith effort to inform the parent of:

(1) The serious discipline incident

(2) The opportunity to appeal

(3) That the disciplinary action will be implemented immediately.

(c) Within three school days of the verbal authorization from the complex area superintendent, the principal or designee shall mail a written notice of the serious discipline incident with the appeal form to the parent. A facsimile signature of or an electronic approval confirmation of the complex area superintendent on the serious discipline incident form is sufficient. The written notice of serious discipline shall contain the following statements:

(1) Allegations of the specific acts committed by the student that form the basis of the serious discipline

(2) The allegations of the specific acts that were substantiated

(3) A statement of the disciplinary action(s)

(4) A statement that the parent has a right to an appeal to the complex area superintendent at which time the parent may present evidence, call and cross-examine witnesses, and be represented by legal counsel and to the extent the parent provides a written notice of legal representation at least ten calendar days prior to the appeal.

(5) If the student or parent would like to file an appeal, the appeal must be submitted in writing and received by the complex area superintendent by the close of business of the seventh school day from the date of the issued serious discipline notice. The student shall be permitted to attend the school of the student pending the appeal unless the principal finds the continued presence of the student creates a substantial risk to self or others or to the rights of other students to pursue their education free from disruption. However, the student shall not participate in any extracurricular activities, including but are not limited to athletics, trips, or clubs.

The DOE publishes Chapter 19 in 14 languages and it is important for a parent who has children in public school to be familiar with the rules and regulations that their children are required to follow.

Sitting down and going over these rules with your child before he or she returns to school is a good idea. It may prevent them from engaging in illegal activity and resulting in disruption to their education. We all want our children to perform well at school and be successful and law abiding citizens. If you would like a full copy of Chapter 19, please contact me.

Questions?

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Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Esther Solomon at esolomon@haleopio.org For more information about Hale Opio Kauai, go to www.haleopio.org

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