Posts tagged with "out-of-school suspension"

Connecticut School Districts and Bullying: What Can Parents Do?

I was greeted one morning with a very unfortunate email.  The email concerned bullying in Westport, Connecticut Schools and included a heart-wrenching video of an 8th-grade girl claiming to be a victim of bullying in Westport schools. It is just not enough to feel sorry for this victim of bullying, we need to question the effectiveness of the current law and policies in place to avoid the tragic consequences that other towns have dealt with because their students were victims of bullying.

Connecticut General Statute Section 10-222d

I previously blogged about the revisions to Connecticut’s law against bullying in 2008.  Under Connecticut General Statute section 10-222d, the law requires “any overt acts by a student or group of students directed against another student with the intent to ridicule, harass, humiliate or intimidate the other student while on school grounds, at a school sponsored activity or on a school bus, which acts are committed more than once against any student during the school year.” In addition to definitional changes, the statute requires:

  1. teachers and other staff members who witness acts of bullying to make a written notification to school administrators;
  2. prohibits disciplinary actions based solely on the basis of an anonymous report of bullying;
  3. prevention strategies as well as intervention strategies;
  4. requires that parents of a student who commits verified acts of bullying or against whom such bullying occurred be notified by each school and be invited to attend at least one meeting;
  5. requires schools to annually report the number of verified acts of bullying to the State Department of Education (DOE);
  6. no later than February 1, 2009, boards must submit the bullying policies to the DOE;
  7. no later than July 1, 2009, boards must include their bullying policy in their school district’s publications of rules, procedures and standards of conduct for school and in all of its student handbooks, and
  8. effective July 1, 2009, boards must now provide in-service training for its teachers and administrators on prevention of bullying.
Westport’s Bullying Policy

Westport responded to the requirements of this statute with a comprehensive bullying policy which can be found on the school district’s website under the tab for parents, and then selecting policies.

Armed with Connecticut’s law and Westport’s policy, what should we do as parents, community members, and professionals?  I do not profess to have the answers but at a minimum, we should discuss this with our children, question the school administrators, and guide staff and teachers. Together we should challenge ourselves to make a difference using the channels available to us.  There are ways that we can help to effectuate change before it is too late.

If you know of a child affected by bullying, please act on their behalf.  Not every student will post a video to tell you this is happening. If the school is not addressing the bullying in a meaningful way to eradicate the conduct, legal redress is available and the courts will readily intervene.

If you have any questions regarding bullying or other education law matters, please feel free to contact Joseph Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or by e-mail at

Suspensions as Disciplinary Tools for Student Misbehavior

Punishing Student Misbehavior 

Under Connecticut law, school administration may punish student misbehavior by issuing suspensions, or excluding a student from school privileges and transportation for up to ten (10) days.[1] This punishment is permitted only when the student’s behavior:

  • Violates a publicized school policy;
  • Seriously disrupts the educational process; or
  • Endangers persons or property.[2]

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.”[3] (Emphasis added.)

In-School vs. Out-of-School Suspensions

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.”[4] 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).[5]
Pursuing an Out-of-School Suspension

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.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

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. in Westport, Connecticut by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at

[1] Connecticut General Statutes § 10-233a(a).

[2] Connecticut General Statutes § 10-233c.

[3] Id.

[4] “Advocating on Your Child’s Behalf: A Parent’s Guide to Connecticut School Law,” by Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at pp.44.

[5] Connecticut General Statutes § 10-233e.