Discipline: Code of Student Conduct

This policy and any implementing procedures constitutes the Smithfield School Department Code of Student Conduct (Discipline Code) as called for by RI Gen. Laws § 16-21-21 (Student Discipline Code) and RI Gen. Laws § 16-2-17 (Right to a Safe School). At the commencement of each school year each school principal shall ensure that the Code is distributed to each student in their school and shall ensure that each student and their parents or guardians acknowledge, in writing, that they have received a copy of the Code. In appropriate circumstances the distribution may be done through electronic means.

The objective of this Code is to establish rules regarding conduct that will foster respect among all members of the school community for the rights of others, respect for property, and respect for the points of view of others. Each student, staff member, teacher, and administrator has a right to attend and/or work at a school that is safe and secure, conducive to learning, and is free from the threat of physical harm.

Student Rights

● Every student has the right to attend school in the district in which his parent or guardian resides.

● All rules and regulations to maintain the process of education will be made common knowledge through inclusion in school handbooks, on the school’s web page, and other means.

● Freedom of speech is guaranteed to all citizens, and students can exercise their constitutionally protected rights of free speech, petitions and assembly subject, however, to the necessary and special limits that are required to maintain an effective educational program within each school.

Students' Responsibilities

● Each student has the responsibility to comply with the established rules, directives and regulations of the school as are properly communicated, implemented, and enforced by members of the faculty, staff and administration.

● Each student has the responsibility to comply with the use of all school documents, forms, slips and passes in such a way that they are not altered, removed, tampered, or misused.

● Each student has the responsibility to refrain from the use and /or possession of alcohol, illegal drugs, tobacco products, e-cigarettes (vapes), and all other contraband prior to coming to school, while on school property or while attending school or school-related functions.

● Students have the responsibility to properly use all school property and equipment. Students are expected to meet all financial obligations to the school. These financial obligations include but are not limited to returning books, Chromebooks and peripherals, locks, athletic apparel, paying for acts of vandalism, and paying monies due for tickets, food, uniforms, and band instruments, and club fees. Failure to meet such obligations and responsibilities may result in disciplinary sanctions and may result in the student being denied permission to participate in graduation exercises.

● Students who fail to serve all detention or other sanctions to which they may be subject will not be permitted to participate in graduation exercises. Students who fail to serve all detention or other sanctions to which they may be subject may not be permitted to participate in elective summer school and must make up all detention assignments before the end of September in the next academic year.

● Each student has the responsibility to respect the rights and property of all other members of the community and shall specifically refrain from littering, defacing or vandalizing the school property and that of school community members.

● Out-of-school conduct of students is not normally a concern of the school or School Committee but misconduct that occurs on a school sponsored or related function or otherwise impacts the school community will subject the student to this Code of Conduct, regardless of the geographical locale.

School Climate and Culture

The general atmosphere of each of the classrooms in the Smithfield Public Schools shall be characterized by mutual understanding and mutual respect of pupil for pupil, pupil for teacher, and teacher for pupil.

A healthy classroom atmosphere requires pleasant human relations, structure, and consistency. Good teaching is not possible without an orderly learning climate.

To establish the desirable classroom atmosphere, Smithfield teachers shall adhere to the following:

● Punishment of an entire group for the actions of one or a few is inappropriate procedure. Only an offender(s) should be disciplined.

● Assignment of extra academic work as punishment is not productive and may not be utilized.

● No child may be deprived of regularly scheduled classes as a punishment for misbehavior except in situations of suspension. This does not include recess or cafeteria privileges.

● No student should be required to leave a classroom for disciplinary reasons unless such student is being referred to the administration.

● Disciplinary problems should be handled in the classroom whenever possible.

School Discipline

In all but the most extraordinary circumstances, it is expected that student discipline problems will be corrected by teachers and school administrators using corrective in-school mechanisms. These may include parent-teacher/administrator conferences, detention and other relatively informal sanctions. However, in accordance with RI Gen. Laws §16-2-17 (Right to a Safe School), a student may be suspended from school if the student commits serious infractions of school rules and/or exhibits persistent conduct that substantially impedes the ability of other students to learn and who has failed to respond to corrective and rehabilitative measures presented by staff, teachers, or administrators.

In cases of both in-school and out-of-school suspension, the following shall apply:

● All principles of due process and all legally mandated procedures regarding the discipline of students with disabilities shall be followed.

● School principals may authorize suspensions of up to ten days duration. Only the School Committee may authorize suspensions of more than ten days.

● A student suspended from school may appeal the action of the School Committee, or a school administrator, to the Commissioner of Education who shall decide the appeal without cost to the parties involved. Any decision of the Commissioner may be appealed to the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education and any decision of the Board of Regents may be appealed by the student to the family court for the county in which the school is located as provided in RI Gen. Laws § 42-35-15 (Judicial Review of Contested Cases).

● Students with disabilities, as that term is defined by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 are subject to the same standards of behavior as all other students except where specifically mandated by law. Those special procedures for discipline of students with disabilities may be found in the section titled Special Education.

In addition to suspension, students may be disciplined by:

  • loss of the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities including proms and sporting events
  • loss of the opportunity to participate in school social activities and/or communal lunch
  • loss of the opportunity to participate in graduation exercises
  • loss of school bus transportation
  • assignment of reflective writing
  • conferencing with support staff
  • community service
  • other means

Disciplinary Sanctions

The following misconduct shall be grounds for disciplinary sanctions, including suspension. In most cases, suspension shall be a last resort, except for those where safety of the school community is threatened. The duration of the suspension shall normally be for not more than the number of days indicated below. However, each case shall be decided on its particular facts and a lighter or more severe sanction shall be imposed when appropriate. In cases where the conduct constitutes a violation of the law, a referral to the police may be made by school department personnel. Under the law and this Code of Conduct, attempted acts of misconduct that are not fulfilled will nevertheless be treated as violations. The response to all offenses shall include parent notification. In extreme cases, referral to the School Committee for expulsion may be initiated in lieu of the consequences listed.

    • In all situations where the maximum period of suspension will not exceed ten days, there shall be an informal hearing before the principal or his or her designee at which time the student involved shall be told the reason for the suspension and the student shall be given an opportunity to respond. The principal or his or her designee shall immediately notify the Superintendent of any suspension.
    • A student may be suspended "in-school," in which case, the suspended student shall report to the principal's office and shall be excluded from all classes and school activities. The student's teachers shall assign work that may be completed outside of the classroom.
    • The administrator shall immediately attempt to notify by telephone, the parent or guardian of the student being suspended and the reason(s) for it. In addition, the administrator shall, within one day of the suspension, send a written notice of the suspension and the reason for it to the parent or guardian. If the suspended student is 18 years of age or older, the notice shall be sent to the student.
    • The parent or guardian of the student shall be notified that they may request a meeting with the principal to discuss the suspension. After meeting, the parent or guardian (or student, if over 18) may request the Superintendent to modify, remit, or suspend the disciplinary action. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the Superintendent's review shall be completed and a written report issued to the parent/guardian/student within three days of the request. In reviewing the case, the Superintendent may have the witnesses and the suspended student give their respective accounts of the incident, either in person or in writing, and the Superintendent may hold a conference with all of the parties involved.
    • In those situations where a Principal recommends that a student be suspended for more than ten days, a request for a long-term suspension shall be directed to the Superintendent who shall make a determination as to whether the student's conduct warrants such disciplinary action. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the Superintendent shall conduct an inquiry into the case within two school days after receiving a request for a long-term suspension. If after the inquiry, if the Superintendent determines that the student's conduct warrants a long-term suspension, the Superintendent shall, normally within five days of the receipt of the request, forward the matter to the School Committee for its consideration.
    • In acting on a request for a long-term suspension, the School Committee shall afford the student an opportunity for a hearing. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the hearing shall be within ten days of the student's removal from school. If the Superintendent or the School Committee determines that the student's presence in school would likely endanger the student or others and it is impracticable to hold the hearing within ten days, the student shall remain out of school pending the outcome of the hearing. The student and his or her parent/ guardian shall be notified of the time, date and place of the hearing, by first class mail, at least five days before the hearing unless a shorter time is agreed to. The notice shall state the reasons why the student is being considered for long-term suspension and explain that the student has the following rights:
    • to appear in person at the hearing and be heard;
    • to confront and cross-examine witnesses;
    • to see and hear the evidence presented against him or her;
    • to present witnesses and evidence in his or her own behalf;
    • to be represented by a third party of the student's own choice and at his or her own expense, including an attorney;
    • to have a translator provided at no expense if the student or his or her parent/guardian does not speak English;
    • to obtain a copy of the record of the hearing without expense;
    • to have the School Committee report its decision and reasoning in writing;
    • to have the decision be based solely upon the evidence presented at the hearing;
    • to appeal any decision of the School Committee to the Commissioner of Education; and
    • to choose to have the hearing conducted either in private or public.

Cross References: Bullying Policy

ADOPTED: September 1998

REVISED: March 21, 2011; February 5, 2018