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233. SUSPENSION AND EXPULSION


233. SUSPENSION AND EXPULSION Date Adopted: April 27, 1981
Dates Revised: December 17, 1990; December 17, 2008

1. Purpose

This policy governs the suspension and expulsion of students from the School District. The SRC recognizes that exclusion from the School District’s educational program, whether by suspension or expulsion, is the most severe sanction that can be imposed on a student and one that cannot be imposed without due process. The SRC intends not only that this policy be applied when facts and circumstances clearly warrant the imposition of a suspension or expulsion, but also that expulsions are pursued by the School District only when absolutely necessary and appropriate . In addition, the SRC is aware that, pursuant to state law, if a student is expelled from the School District, it is that student’s parent and/or guardian who is responsible for the student’s continued education. However, the SRC intends that the School District will continue to assist all expelled students and their parents and/or guardians by providing alternative education options that are separate from the comprehensive school educational system from which the student was expelled.

2. Definition

    1. Alternative Education: A system of options for students that provides a high quality academic program and supports that address the diverse needs of students significantly at risk of dropping out of school, returning from court-sponsored placements and those subject to disciplinary transfer or expulsion.
    2. Expulsion: The exclusion of a student from the School District for a period exceeding 10 school days. Expulsions may be permanent or may be for a specified period of time. A student may only be expelled by a majority vote of the SRC.
    3. Expulsion Hearing: A formal hearing held by the SRC or its designee to consider the proposed expulsion of a student.
    4. Informal Hearing/Parent Conference: An informal hearing held by the School District to review and consider the reasons for a student’s suspension with the student’s parent and/or guardian.
    5. Suspension: The exclusion of a student from school for a period of 10 or fewer school days.

3. Suspension

    1. The principal may suspend any student for violations of the Code of Student Conduct for up to 10 school days as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct and the Disciplinary Procedures Manual. A student shall not be suspended for more than five days at a time except in cases where the District determines that the student’s continued presence poses a threat of disruption to the academic process, or a threat to the safety of the school community.
    2. When a student is suspended, a conference with the student shall immediately take place to inform the student of the reasons for the suspension.
    3. (c) The District shall immediately give the parent and/or guardian of a suspended student notice of an informal hearing/parent conference in order to review the reasons for the student’s suspension.
        1. The informal hearing/parent conference shall take place as soon as reasonably possible following the commencement of a suspension. In cases of suspension that exceed 3 days, the informal hearing/parent conference shall take place no later than the third day of the suspension, unless both parties agree otherwise.
        2. Informal hearings/parent conferences shall be held after adequate and timely notice is given to the student’s parent and/or guardian. Notice shall be in writing and include:
          1. the date, time, and location of the hearing/conference;
          2. the reasons for the suspension;
          3. an explanation that the parent and/or guardian shall have the right to review student records
    4. The principal or the principal’s designee shall report the suspension and the reason for the suspension to the Chief Executive Officer/Superintendent of Schools or his/her designee as soon as reasonably possible.

4. Expulsion

    1. The SRC may expel any student whose misconduct, disobedience, and/or violation of the Code of Student Conduct is serious enough to warrant such a sanction.
    2. Expulsions are effective upon the affirmative vote of a majority of the SRC. Expulsions are permanent unless a period of time for the expulsion is specified by the SRC at the time the SRC votes on the expulsion. Expulsions for weapons related offenses shall be for at least one year. However, the SRC may consider imposing a lessor sanction for a weapons offense if recommended by CEO/Superintendent of Schools because of special circumstances presented by the students and/or the student’s parent and/or guardian.
    3. No student shall be expelled without an expulsion hearing. Expulsion hearings shall be conducted by the SRC or its designee.
    4. Expulsions shall be brought before the SRC by:
        1. The Chief Executive Officer/Superintendent of Schools or his/her designee notifying the SRC that the School District is recommending a student for expulsion.
        2. The School District giving adequate and timely notice to the student’s parent and/or guardian that the SRC or its designee will hold an expulsion hearing. Notice shall include:
          1. the date, time, and location of the expulsion hearing;
          2. the reasons why the School District is recommending that the student be expelled;
          3. the fact that the hearing will be held in private;
          4. the names of all witnesses upon whose testimony the School District’s reasons for recommending expulsion rely, as well as copies of any affidavits/statements given by those witnesses;
          5. an explanation that the parent and/or guardian can request that all witnesses appear in person at the hearing;
          6. an explanation that the parent and/or guardian will have the right to cross-examine the named witnesses, to present witnesses to testify on the student’s behalf, and to make arguments on the student’s behalf.
          7. the fact that the student may testify at the hearing on his/her own behalf;
          8. an explanation that the student has a right to be represented by counsel at the parent and/or guardian’s own expense; and
          9. the fact that the student or the parent and/or guardian may request copies of a transcript of the hearing at their own expense.
        3. The SRC or the SRC’s designee will hold the expulsion hearing within 15 days of the School District’s notice to the student’s parent and/or guardian.
        4. The SRC shall weigh all of the evidence presented by the School District and by the student’s parent and/or guardian at the formal expulsion hearing before scheduling a vote on the question of whether the student should be expelled.
        5. The SRC shall vote at a public meeting on whether the student shall be expelled for any length of time or whether a lessor sanction shall be imposed. The SRC or the SRC’s designee shall notify the student’s parent and/or guardian of the date of the vote prior to the vote taking place. The parent and/or guardian shall be afforded the opportunity to address the SRC at the public meeting, consistent with the SRC’s policy on meetings.
    5. Students under 17 years of age who are expelled are not excused from compliance with compulsory attendance laws. The responsibility for ensuring a student’s compliance with compulsory attendance laws lies with the student’s parent and/or guardian.
    6. The School District shall continue to educate all students recommended for expulsion throughout the expulsion hearing process and after formal expulsion by providing the student with an alternative education program The student shall remain in the alternative education program for the entire period of expulsion, unless the student’s parent and/or guardian chooses to place the student in an educational setting outside of the School District and notifies the School District in writing.
    7. Readmission of Permanently-Expelled Students. Students who have been permanently expelled from The School District of Philadelphia by the affirmative vote of a majority of the School Reform Commission may apply for readmission to the School District. Permanent expulsion includes being expelled to a School District-operated alternative school. Temporarily-expelled students need not apply for readmission for the reason that they are automatically readmitted to the School District upon the expiration of the expulsion period.

      The SRC delegates authority for all readmission decisions to the Chief Executive Officer/Superintendent or her designee, so that readmission shall be at the discretion of the Superintendent or her designee. Readmission decisions are final and not subject to review by or appeal to the SRC or to Court.
        1. Criteria for Readmission
          The criteria for readmission are: (1) all passing grades and at least an 85% attendance rate; (2) evidence of substantial progress in the area of personal responsibility and positive behavior including letters of recommendation or character references from person(s) with direct contact or knowledge of the student; (3) satisfactory completion of a School District character education program (currently “Peace 4 Kids”); (4) the student has not engaged in any criminal behavior and has not violated the applicable Code of Student Conduct (in a School District school) since expulsion or has complied with the applicable behavior policy of a non-School District school since expulsion.
        2. Procedure for Readmission
          The parent/guardian and the expelled student shall submit a written application to The School District of Philadelphia after a period of not less than one full academic year (ten months or 180 days of schooling, which period may carry over more than one school year) from the date of the SRC vote to permanently expel the student. The application forms will be provided by the School District in English and in 8 world languages spoken by the families of our students: Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, French, Khmer, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese. The forms will be translated into other world languages, upon request.

          The application must include a letter or written explanation from both the parent/guardian and the student why the student is requesting readmission and why the student is suitable for readmission. The application may include information on any non-academic programs attended, including job training, counseling, employment and community service or other rehabilitative programs.

          The School District will provide information and records of all education that was completed during the period of expulsion and the student’s current academic records, including all behavioral modification and support programs.

          The application will be submitted to the Regional Superintendent of the Alternative Education Region. Academic records and behavior reports will be confirmed by the schools involved and the confirmations will be added to the packet for consideration. The Regional Superintendent will assign a Transition Liaison to investigate and confirm the information provided by the student and by the schools and to gather any supplemental information to prove that the student has made significant progress overall. The Transition Liaison will also review the expulsion file and the documentation and align it with the student’s evidence of progress to date.

          The parent/guardian and student will meet in-person with a Review Panel, consisting of the Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia or her Designee and two additional Alternative Education Regional administrators. The Principal of the school from which the student was expelled shall be consulted and give his/her opinion of the effect of readmission on school climate and safety, if the student wishes to return to the same school from which he/she was expelled.

          The panel will interview the student and the parent/guardian. The student will be given an opportunity to make a statement on his/her behalf to the panel. The Panel will determine whether the student is to be readmitted within 30 days of the meeting. The Panel will notify the student and parent/guardian of its decision by letter sent in English and in the language spoken in the family’s home, if other than English.

          If the Panel decides to readmit the student into the School District, the student and family will be given a school assignment, a letter of readmission, a copy of the current Student Code of Conduct and an Individual Graduation Plan, if applicable. The student will be allowed to return at the beginning of the next school year or after a semester break in the academic calendar, so as to make the transition as least disruptive as possible for the student. The Transition Liaison will monitor the student’s progress for 90 days after readmission to insure progress and adherence to the Individual Graduation Plan and academic expectations.

          If the Panel denies the application for readmission, the Panel shall state the reasons for denial. A student, whose application for readmission is denied, may re-apply after six months if there are new or different circumstances or new evidence to support another application.

          The Office of the Superintendent will provide reports to the SRC within 30 days after each school semester of the number of applications for readmission received, the length of time to decide the applications and the disposition of the applications.
    8. Expungement of Records of Expelled Students. A student who has been permanently or temporarily expelled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the School Reform Commission - beginning in school year 2008 – 2009 - may apply to The School District of Philadelphia for expungement of the records of expulsion. The SRC delegates authority for all decisions as to expungement of records of expelled students to the Chief Executive Officer/Superintendent or her designee, so that expungement shall be at the discretion of the Superintendent or her designee. Expungement decisions are not subject to review by or appeal to the SRC or to Court.
        1. Criteria for Expungement
          The criteria for expungement of expulsion records are: (1) the expulsion did not involve a serious violent offense, sexual offense or possession of a firearm; (2) all passing grades and at least an 85% attendance rate while the student was in school; (3) evidence of substantial progress in the area of personal responsibility and positive behavior including letters of recommendation or character references from person(s) with direct contact or knowledge of the student; (4) the student has not engaged in any criminal behavior and has not violated the applicable Code of Student Conduct (in a School District school) since expulsion or has complied with the applicable behavior policy of a non-School District school since expulsion. (5) the age of the student; (6) whether the student graduated from high school or is on track to graduate from high school; (7) whether the student was - or is being - readmitted to the School District in good standing. It is anticipated that expungement of records of temporarily-expelled students who qualify for expungement should be routine and may be considered and granted without a meeting.
        2. Procedure for Expungement
          The student (and parent/guardian, if the student is a minor or is still in school) shall submit a signed written letter or statement explaining why the student requests expungement and why expungement is appropriate. The Superintendent may consider and grant expungement of a permanent expulsion record along with a request for readmission; if so, the decision on expungement shall be made by the same Panel which considers the request for readmission. If the Panel which decides readmission is not requested to order expungement, the request for expungement should be submitted to a Panel for decision. The panel will interview a permanently-expelled student requesting expungement; expungement of the record of a permanently-expelled student should not be automatic. Expungement of records of a temporary expulsion may be considered and granted without a meeting. The Panel will determine whether to grant expungement within 30 days of the request or 30 days after a meeting, whichever is later. The Panel will notify the student and parent/guardian of its decision by letter sent in English and in the language spoken in the family’s home, if other than English. If the application for expungement is denied, the student may not reapply for expungement at a later date. The Office of the Superintendent will provide reports to the SRC within 30 days after each school semester of the number of applications for expungement received, the length of time to decide the applications and the disposition of the applications.

5. Implementation of this Policy

The SRC directs the Chief Executive Officer/Superintendent of Schools to adopt any procedures necessary for full implementation of this and related policies. All procedures adopted by the Chief Executive Officer/Superintendent of Schools shall be well advertised in all School District schools, on the School District’s website, and made available to all students’ parents and guardians.

References:

Pennsylvania School Code 22, Sections 12.6; 12.6(h); 12.7; 1318

P.G. 291, 22 Section 12.8

Date Adopted: April 27, 1981

Dates Revised: December 17, 1990; December 17, 2008; June 16, 2010