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What is a suspension?

“The Connecticut General Assembly has defined suspension as exclusion from school privileges and transportation for no more than ten days.96 Under Section 10- 233b of the Connecticut General Statutes, school administrators can suspend students only if the conduct:

  1. violates publicized policy of the local or regional board of education;
  2. seriously disrupts the educational process; or
  3. endangers persons or property.

If the student’s conduct occurred on school grounds, then it needs to satisfy only one of the elements.98 If the student’s conduct occurred off-campus, then administrators can suspend students only if the misbehavior violates publicized policy and seriously disrupts the educational process.”

What conduct qualifies as ‘violation of publicized policy?’

“If your child is suspended under the publicized policy category, you can first consult the school handbook to determine whether his or her conduct violates any articulated school disciplinary rule. You will likely be able to make a stronger case for your child during suspension hearings (which we will discuss in more detail later in the section), if you can show that his or her conduct is neither prohibited by the school, nor violates any school rules. There are three things to keep in mind in the process.

  1. School rules have to be clear and understandable so students and parents can reasonably understand what conduct is prohibited
  2. School districts must inform parents and students at least annually of board policies related to student conduct
  3. Any school rule must have some rational relationship with its intended purpose

What kind of behavior qualifies as ‘serious disruption of the educational process?’

“According to guidelines issued by the Connecticut State Department of Education, a student’s conduct is not a serious disruption of the educational process unless it substantially interferes with the operation of a class, study hall, library, or any meeting involving students and school staff. The Department has noted that recurring or cumulative disruptions, even if not considered serious if taken separately, can amount to a serious disruption of the educational process.”

“For conduct that occurs off school grounds, the Connecticut Supreme Court has held that there has to be a concrete relationship between the off-campus conduct and the school’s operation.104 Moreover, the General Assembly has set forth the following criteria that administrators may consider in determining whether a student’s conduct is a serious disruption:

  1. whether the incident occurred close to the school;
  2. whether other students or a gang were involved;
  3. whether the conduct involved violence, threats of violence, or unlawful use of a weapon and whether there were injuries; and
  4. whether the conduct involved the use of alcohol.”

What kind of behavior qualifies as ‘endangerment of persons or property?’

“The State Department of Education has defined “endangerment of persons or property” as conduct that exposes a student to an injury, risk, or a harmful situation.106 Under this definition, fighting, bullying, possession of firearms or controlled substances, or damage to personal or school property would satisfy this requirement.”

What if my child has a school disciplinary history or has never been suspended?

“Administrators may consider a student’s past disciplinary record when determining the length of a suspension or whether a suspension is warranted in the first place. If your child has never previously been suspended or expelled, the school administrator has discretion under the law to waive or shorten the suspension. Instead, school officials may require the student to complete an administration-specified program, which parents would not have to pay for. Conversely, the school administration may also hand down a harsher suspension period if your child has a record of past suspension, expulsion, or removal from class.”

What action is the State taking to minimize the academic impact of school suspensions?

“Under Connecticut law, an in-school suspension consists of exclusion from the regular classroom, but not from school altogether, for no more than ten consecutive days. Based upon data showing that out-of-school suspensions actually perpetuate misbehavior and increase the likelihood that students will end up in the juvenile justice system, the General Assembly moved to increase the use of in-school, suspensions, as opposed to out-of-school suspensions, as a disciplinary tool.”

“The Connecticut State Department of Education has also recommended that 107 Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-233c(b) (2010). 108 Id. § 10-233c(e) 109 Id. 110 Id. § 10-233c(g). 59 administrators should consider the following mitigating factors before moving ahead with out-of-school suspensions:”

  • Age, Grade, and Developmental Stage of Student
  • The Student’s Reasons for Engaging in Misbehavior
  • The Student’s Past Disciplinary Problems and Likelihood of Recurrence
  • The Risk of Loss of Instruction
  • Cultural Factors
  • Extent of Parental Support in Addressing Student’s Misbehavior

“If the school administration does proceed with an in-school suspension, the pupil can, depending on the administration’s preference, serve the suspension in the school or in a different school under the jurisdiction of the local or regional board of education.”

Read more about school suspensions under CT law and other aspects of education law in our education publication here: https://mayalaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Education-Publication.pdf

Maya Murphy P.C. has proudly been included in the 2024 Edition of Best Law Firms®, ranked among the top firms in the nation. In addition, Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for his work in Employment Law and Education Law in Connecticut. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is awarded to firms and attorneys who demonstrate excellence in the industry and is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients with legal assistance all over the state, including the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law matters in New York as well.

If you have any questions about education law in Connecticut or would like to speak to an attorney about a legal matter, please contact Joseph C. Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or JMaya@Mayalaw.com to schedule a free initial consultation today.