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What should I know about school discipline?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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School discipline laws in Georgia

What should I know? +

Contents


How does Georgia deal with student discipline?

In Georgia, local boards of education are able to make their own policies and rules about student discipline. Rules about discipline are different depending on the school district. However, there are some procedures that all schools and school boards must follow. 

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What are students and guardians rights with school discipline in Georgia?

How do I know what the rules are at my child’s school?

Each school district must have a Student Code of Conduct. These are the rules for how students must act in school. The code of conduct must say what the steps are for disciplining a student.

 

The Student Code of Conduct must be:

  • Given to every student and guardian at the beginning of the school year. Many schools will ask the students and guardians to sign a form saying they understand these rules.

  • Available in every classroom and school.

 

What are my rights if my child is removed from their classroom?

In Georgia, students can be removed from the classroom. There are two types of removals.

 

Teacher removal. A teacher can remove a student from the classroom if the kid is being very disruptive. The child’s behavior has to substantially interfere with:

  • The teacher’s ability to teach, or

  • The other students’ ability to learn.

 

Before the teacher can remove the student, they either must:

  • Have reported the student to the principal before, or

  • Believe the student is an immediate threat to the teacher or other students.

 

After the student is removed, the principal has one day to tell the parents or guardian. If the teacher will not allow the student back in the classroom, there must be a Placement Review Committee to decide what to do. This committee must make a decision within 3 days. 

 

Suspension or expulsion. A student can be suspended or expelled if they violate the Student Code of Conduct. 

 

If a suspension is 10 days or less, you do not have a right to a formal hearing under Georgia law. However, students have the right to be told, in person or in writing, the reason for the suspension. They also have a right to tell their side of the story before being suspended, unless letting the student stay in school would be dangerous or disruptive.

 

Check the Student Code of Conduct to see if your school district allows an appeal of discipline decisions. 

 

If the school wants to expel a student or suspend a student for more than 10 days, Georgia law requires a formal hearing. The school must:

  • Notify the student and parents/guardians either in person or by mail. This notification must tell you:

    • The time, location, and what the hearing is about,

    • What rules the student broke and what happened,

    • That both you and the school can present evidence at this hearing, and

    • That you are allowed to have an attorney at the hearing.

 

  • Hold a disciplinary hearing. You may have the option to waive this hearing. The hearing must:

    • Be held no more than 10 days after the suspension or expulsion starts,

    • Allow you to bring evidence and witnesses, 

    • Allow you to respond to any evidence and witnesses, and

    • There must be an electronic or written record of the hearing. This record must be available to you.

  • Make a decision after the hearing. The hearing must be given in writing at least 10 days after the hearing.

  • If you disagree with this decision, you have the right to file an appeal within 20 days.

 

If the school wants to expel a student or suspend a student who qualifies for special education classes for more than 10 days, they must take additional steps. The IEP committee must do a review to decide whether the student’s conduct:

  • Was caused by their disability,

  • Had a direct relationship to their disability, or

  • Happened because the school was not following the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

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What are the schools’ rights and responsibilities with school discipline in Georgia?

Schools have the right to make rules for how students are allowed to act in school. They also have the right to set up steps for student punishment.

 

Once they make these rules, if the school wants to discipline a student, they are responsible for following:

  • the steps outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, and 

  • the procedures that all schools must follow under federal and state law.

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What can I do? +

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How can I appeal a decision to suspend or expel my child from school?

If the school decides to expel or suspend your child for more than 10 days, your student must get a hearing to challenge the decision. 

  • Be sure to get all evidence in your child’s favor on the record at the hearing. If you have to appeal, the school board will ONLY consider information on the official hearing record.

  • The school must give you notice of the decision in writing. The notice must include information about how to appeal the decision.

 

Appeal to the Local School Board of Education

If you do not agree with the decision from the hearing, you have the right to appeal this decision to your local school board of education. To appeal, you must:

  • Make your appeal within writing. You may get an appeal form when you get notice of the school’s decision. Use this form. 

  • Return the appeal form to the office of the District Superintendent. Return it in person, if you can.

  • File the appeal within 20 days of the date of the school’s decision. These 20 days include holidays and weekends. If the 20th day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, be sure to deliver the appeal form by the Friday before. 

 

Further appeals

If you do not agree with the local school board’s decision, there are two more levels of appeal. You can appeal to:

  • The Georgia State Board of Education. File your appeal with the superintendent of your local school district within 30 days of the school board’s decision.

  • State Superior Court. You can appeal the Georgia State Board of Education’s decision to the Superior Court that serves the area where the school is located.

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What can I do if I think my child was discriminated against?

File a claim with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education if you think your child has been discriminated against because of:

  • Race,

  • Color,

  • National Origin,

  • Sex, or

  • Disability

 

File the complaint within 180 days of the discrimination.

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How can I stop a school from spanking or paddling my child?

Georgia allows school districts to decide whether they will allow students to be spanked or paddled. This is known as corporal punishment. To find out if corporal punishment is allowed in your school district, consult the school’s Student Code of Conduct.

 

You can prevent a school from paddling your child by getting a note from a medical professional. The note must:

  • Say that corporal punishment would be harmful to your child’s mental and emotional health.

  • Be given to the school on the first day of classes.

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Resources

Last Review and Update: Mar 25, 2020