What Does Arizona Law Say About Teacher Authority for Punishment and Suspensions?
What authority does Arizona law give teachers for discipline and suspension of a student?
Arizona law requires all public schools or charter schools to have policies and procedures in place regarding discipline.
School Policies and Procedures on Punishment and Suspensions
So, that’s removing a student. The school’s policies and procedures should outline what happens when a student is expelled or suspended. You can generally find this within the student handbook and the parent handbook.
Now, if the teacher needs to remove a student, and what I mean by remove is to send to the principal’s office, the student’s behavior has to either be over some time, very disruptive, or non-compliant.
Or their behavior could be one instance, but it arises to the level that it’s so egregious that it’s affecting other students’ ability to learn or for the teacher to communicate what’s needed for the students to learn.
Teacher’s Authority Under Arizona’s State Law
Then the student can be removed and sent to the principal’s office. The teacher has that authority by Arizona state law.
Now, the teacher may also have the power to restrain a student. However, Arizona law does state that if a student is to be restrained, it must be by staff with special training so that no harm comes to the student. And restraint only can happen if there is an imminent physical threat to other students or staff’s wellbeing. And so, that is quite a high bar. However, Arizona law does grant teachers the authority to do this, like I said, if they have special training. There are also lots of requirements.
If a restraint happens, the school must notify a parent of this.
And then also, the teacher does have the authority from state law to suspend a student. To suspend the student, as I said, they must be pretty egregious, substantially disrupting other students in the class or the teacher’s ability to communicate with other students.
A lot of times, that suspension rises to physical harm. So, if students are physically hurting others, harassing, bullying, or things like that, that would rise to the level of suspension.
Governing Board Due Process
Now, even though a teacher does have the authority to suspend a student, the school’s governing board or the disciplinary committee must confirm this in a due process hearing with a parent, guardian, and student surrounding the circumstances of the suspension.
Again, teachers have the authority to discipline or suspend a student. But if you want to get into the particulars, look in your student handbook or parent handbook because the school must have policies and procedures outlined for parents.
Can Teachers Remove Students from Classrooms in Arizona?
Generally speaking, teachers in Arizona have the legal authority to remove students from their classrooms.
However, this does not mean they can do so without consequences. According to state law, there are only four specific instances in which a teacher can remove a student from their classroom:
- The student poses a physical threat to themselves or others
- The student is disruptive and prevents others from learning
- The student is engaging in illegal activity
- The student has been suspended or expelled from school
How Can an Arizona Student Return to School After a Removal?
How can a student return to an Arizona classroom after being removed?
I will go through some scenarios where a teacher would remove a student and how the student can re-enter the classroom.
So, in a previous blog, I discussed how a teacher could remove a child from the classroom; when the teacher asks the child to go to the principal’s office.
Student’s Disruptive Behavior
Suppose the student’s behavior substantially affects other students’ ability to learn. In that case, the teacher may ask the student to go to the principal’s office, where they may receive a discipline that complies with the state’s guidelines. In that case, if the student is only going to the office, they can come back to the classroom after being removed that way.
Once their behavior has changed, they’re calm, ready to learn, and not going to be disruptive anymore; they can be escorted back to the classroom and proceed.
And then any discipline, as I said, can be handed down from either the teacher or the principal, depending on the school’s policy. But if they’re just in the office, calm, and not disruptive anymore, that behavior has stopped, and they’re aware of that, then the child could likely come back into the classroom.
So, that’s the first scenario. The student is just removed and brought to the principal’s office.
The next one would be suspension. Suspension means the student cannot come to the school premises for a specific period. It usually’s shorter than ten days. And they can come back to the classroom when the end of that suspension is over.
Or there are options for due process hearings surrounding discipline with the school governing board. If a parent requests one of those, if the school board decides that the suspension was inappropriate, the student can enter before the actual time of the suspension is up, or at the end of it, the student would re-enter the classroom. So, that’s the second scenario.
And then the third one is expulsion.
Expulsion means the student may not be allowed on school premises for at least a year or the rest of the school year.
They’re done, not able to come back. In this case, it’s serious. The school would likely hold a due process student discipline hearing before the school’s governing board, and they would make that choice.
If the student is rising to the level of expulsion, the behavior must be egregious. In that case, though, a student could still enter the classroom if, at that time, during the due process disciplinary hearing with the school’s governing board, they decide that this is not appropriate. The student may re-enter the classroom.
If the teacher consents, they may also enter the classroom. And there’s also usually a disciplinary committee that would make these choices.
Due Process for Arizona Student Discipline
Students are not just expelled or suspended without any prior warning. The student is entitled to due process if a school decides to take such disciplinary action. They are entitled to a hearing before a tribunal to present their side and evidence supporting their innocence.
If the student is found guilty, they can appeal the decision. They can also request a meeting with the school board to discuss the situation. In such instances, it’s best to have an attorney who can help you navigate the complex legal process.
Arizona Student Due Process Hearings
As highlighted above, one must follow due process before disciplining the student. This process starts with a hearing before a tribunal, where students can present their side of the story.
As a parent, you must ensure that your child is well-prepared for this hearing. This part is where an attorney can help. They can review the evidence and help you prepare your child for what to expect.
It’s important to note that these hearings are not just for students who have been expelled or suspended. Any student facing disciplinary action has the right to a hearing. It includes students facing a transfer to another school or a loss of privileges.
What Happens When a Student in Arizona Gets Suspended?
If the school suspends your child, you must understand the process and what you can do to help them.
Generally speaking, there are two types of suspensions: short-term and long-term. Short-term suspensions usually last ten days or less, while long-term suspensions can last up to 45 days.
In either case, the student will be removed from their regular classes and placed in an alternative setting. It could be another classroom at the school or even a different school altogether. If your child is facing a long-term suspension, they might be eligible for homebound instruction. It is where a teacher comes to your home to provide education.
It’s important to note that suspensions are not a punishment. They are simply a way to remove the student from the classroom so that they can’t disrupt the learning environment. Therefore, the goal is for students to learn from their mistakes and return to school ready to succeed.
What Happens When a Student in Arizona Gets Expelled?
If your child is expelled, the school will permanently remove them. It means they will not be able to return to that school or any other public school in the state. There are a few exceptions to this rule.
If the student is expelled for a nonviolent misdeed, they might be able to attend an alternative school.
If expelled for a violent offense, they will only be able to participate in an alternative school if the court approves. It’s important to note that expulsion is a serious matter.
Therefore, it’s essential to have an attorney who can help you navigate the process and protect your child’s rights. You don’t want to risk your child’s future by handling this complex legal matter alone.
Chelle Law Student Discipline Attorney
As a parent, receiving a phone call regarding your child’s disciplinary issues in school is never easy. Naturally, you’ll want to defend them and probably question the punishment selected by the school. In extreme cases, your child might be facing suspension or expulsion. In the 2015-16 academic year, 13.9% of black and 10.4% of native students were suspended from schools in Arizona for disciplinary issues.
If your child is facing an investigation relating to disciplinary issues, an Arizona student defense lawyer can help. Experienced attorneys at Chelle Law can work with you to construct a formidable defense while fighting for your child to continue their education. They can help you understand the law and protect your child’s rights. You must ensure that you follow every step in the process so your child has the best chance of success.
At Chelle Law, we know the law and how to protect your child’s rights. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We will fight for your child and get them the best possible outcome.
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