It’s that time of year: Summer vacation is over. Labor Day has come and gone. Children now find themselves back into the daily routine of waking up early, getting ready for school, and attending classes. Each year, Boards of Education provide its students with booklets covering their code of conduct, and of notable interest is understanding how one’s conduct off school grounds can adversely impact in-school opportunities. That is, what authority does a school district have to expel students for out-of-school behavior?

Expulsion of Students in Connecticut Schools

Connecticut’s statutory scheme governing children (both generally and in the context of education) is particularly comprehensive, and an important section in the context of school discipline concerns expulsion. The General Statutes require expulsion for conduct not committed during school hours or on school grounds in two situations:

  1. The student carried (without a permit) a statutorily-enumerated weapon, or used one to commit a crime. Weapons covered include firearms, deadly weapons, dangerous instruments, and martial arts weapons.
  2. The student sold or distributed illegal drugs or attempted to do so.

Connecticut General Statutes § 10-223d(2).

State law permits expulsion of students if the out-of-school conduct violates school policy and is seriously disruptive of the educational process. This standard was discussed in the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision in Packer v. Board of Education of the Town of Thompson, 256 Conn. 89 (1998), which involved a student in possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his car while not at school. When a school board needs to determine whether this threshold has been met, it considers numerous factors:

  1. Whether the incident occurred within close proximity of a school
  2. Whether other students from the school were involved or whether there was any gang involvement
  3. Whether the conduct involved violence, threats of violence or the unlawful use of a weapon, … and whether any injuries occurred
  4. Whether the conduct involved the use of alcohol

Connecticut General Statutes § 10-223d(1).

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Depending on the nature of the conduct, the punishment imposed can be severe and particularly detrimental to a child’s educational and recreational opportunities. If your child is facing suspension or expulsion for conduct committed on or off of school grounds, it is imperative that you seek counsel from an experienced education law practitioner. If you have any questions regarding education legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya at Maya Murphy, P.C. in Westport, CT by telephone at (203) 221-3100 or via email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.