Student Codes of Conduct
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed October 11, 2023
It's a school's responsibility to provide a safe and structured learning environment. Student codes of conduct can help toward this end by providing guidelines and policies. Student codes outline acceptable behaviors by students, teachers, and school administrators. These codes also create potential penalties for violations of the codes.
A student code of conduct is a crucial part of any school or university setting. It serves as a roadmap, guiding student behavior on and off campus. The code works to ensure everyone's well-being.
This section focuses on various matters related to codes of conduct. Read below to find background information and basic issues. Click on the links below to learn more.
Student Codes of Conduct: Basic Issues
Codes of conduct exist to improve clarity on the school's expectations for students. At the core of a student conduct code is respect. Respect for oneself, for others, and for school property is essential. Common aspects of student codes of conduct include prohibitions against:
- Unpreparedness for class
- Inappropriate attire
- Disruptive behavior
- Unauthorized use of another's belongings
- Unauthorized entry into a staff member's office
A violation of a student code of conduct may result in punishment. The most common punishment is detention, with students typically kept after school. Other punishments may include writing a warning or reprimand, holding a student conference, holding a parent conference, changing the student's class schedule, or imposing a suspension. The kind and severity of punishment typically depend on the nature of the infraction. The student's record of prior infractions also factors into the equation.
The code, ideally, ensures an equal-opportunity learning environment for all students. Their gender identity, national origin, or sexual orientation should not be a hindrance. Title IX, a federal law, details this point. This law makes it illegal to discriminate in educational settings.
Student Codes of Conduct: Serious Violations and Violence
Students who commit more serious violations of the code may face stronger punishment. Some schools have more advanced intervention programs to deal with students who cause serious trouble. Students can be assigned to complete community service projects. The local police department may become involved. More serious violations of student codes include:
- Cheating or plagiarizing
- Using profane, obscene, or offensive language
- Possessing pornographic material
- Stealing from another student or the school
- Gambling on school grounds
- Threatening another student's safety
- Fighting with another student
- Providing false information to a school official
- Using controlled substances or drugs
- Involvement in hazing activities, either on campus or off campus
- Sexual harassment and sexual assault
School shootings and bullying concerns have grown more commonplace. Schools must take the physical security of their students and staff seriously. Criminal charges, suspension, and expulsion are common outcomes of violent incidents. Students may also face transfer to alternative disciplinary education programs.
Physical violence and bullying not only violate school rules but also go against state and federal laws. Law enforcement may become involved in such cases. This can lead to further sanctions. Alleged violations at public schools should go through due process. Officials may carry out an investigation using a preponderance of the evidence standard. Accused students have the right to present relevant information in their defense and may be assisted by counsel.
Technology Use and Cellphone Policies in a Student Code of Conduct
Codes of conduct have increasingly needed to address students' use of technology. Cellphones, texting, email, and social media have presented new problems for school officials. Technology-related sections of student codes often address issues like cyberbullying. They might also discuss the unauthorized use of personal data and responsible use of social media.
Some schools provide their students with email addresses. They use technology to filter and otherwise guide students' online activity. Other schools avoid the issue by not providing email addresses or limiting internet access. Acceptable-use policies have helped schools and students understand how tech devices can cause problems at school. Privileges are frequently revocable.
Codes of Conduct: Disciplinary Measures and the Appeal Process
Student discipline plays a significant role in maintaining order in public schools. A violation of the conduct code can result in various sanctions, depending on the severity of the offense. These may range from a period of time in detention to suspension or expulsion. A violation of the code may be deemed more serious for certain offenses than others. The student's parent or guardian should receive written notice about any such action.
Any student who feels unjustly punished can use the appeal process. This option ensures the rights of students to a fair trial. The appeal must be made in a written statement, which an office of student affairs or a designee reviews for good cause.
Getting Legal Help with Student Code of Conduct Issues
Local law or state law may necessitate a legal response in some circumstances. The local or state board of education, in collaboration with the department of education, may refer some cases to law enforcement. A lawyer can provide students and their parents legal counsel and guidance in these scenarios. They can help ensure that the student's rights are protected. An attorney can review the school district's code of conduct and help to strategize a plan.
Speak to an education attorney in your area today for guidance.
Student Codes of Conduct Articles
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