Under Connecticut law, school administration may punish a student’s misbehavior by issuing a suspension, or excluding the student from school privileges and transportation for up to ten (10) days. This punishment is permitted only one the student’s behavior:
- Violates a publicized school policy;
- Seriously disrupts the educational process; or
- Endangers persons or property.
A showing of only one of these three elements is required if the behavior occurred on school grounds or at a school-sponsored activity. If, however, the conduct occurred off school grounds, suspension is allowed “only if the misbehavior violates publicized policy and seriously disrupts the educational process.” (Emphasis added.)
The Connecticut legislature has shown a preference for in-school suspensions as a disciplinary tool, noting “data showing that out-of-school suspensions actually perpetuated misbehavior and increased the likelihood that students would end up in the juvenile justice system.” Thus, all suspensions must be in-school unless one of two situations arises:
- The student should not be in school because he or she poses a danger to persons or property or a serious disruption to the educational process.
- School administrators previously attempted to address the student’s past disciplinary problems and behavior by alternative methods (other than suspensions and expulsions).
In addition, the State Department of Education has emphasized mitigating factors that school administrators should take into account before electing to pursue an out-of-school suspension. These include:
- The age, grade, and developmental stage of the student;
- The student’s reason(s) for engaging in the misbehavior;
- The student’s past disciplinary problems and/or likelihood of recurrence;
- The risk of loss of instruction;
- Cultural considerations;
- Extent of support from parents and/or guardians in addressing the misbehavior.
Because of the potentially adverse and significant impact a suspension or expulsion can have on a student’s future, it is imperative to seek the advice of an experienced school law practitioner. The lawyers at Maya Murphy, P.C., assist clients in Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, and Westport. Should you have any questions regarding school discipline or other education law matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.
Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.