And who is going to pay for it? The State’s new draft guidelines for educating expelled students

by Pullman & Comley - School Law
Contact

Pullman & Comley - School Law

In 2016, Connecticut’s General Assembly passed Public Act 16-147: AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE POLICY AND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE.  This Act made several changes to school discipline laws which were to take effect on August 15, 2017.  Most dramatically, the Act significantly increased the amount of instruction to be delivered to expelled students. Generally, school districts have provided an “alternative educational opportunity” to eligible expelled students consistent with state regulations governing “homebound and hospitalization” instruction; as such, many districts have provided education to expelled students via tutoring — either in the home or a public setting — consisting of one hour per day, or five hours per week, to students in kindergarten through grade six and two hours per day, or ten hours per week, to students in grades seven through twelve.  Public Act 16-147, however, had the effect of requiring schools to offer five hours per day of schooling for all expelled students.

The Act also would require the “alternative educational opportunity” for expelled students to be equivalent to an “alternative education,” which by law is a school or program maintained and operated by a school district that is offered to students in a “nontraditional setting” and addresses their social, emotional, behavioral, and academic needs.  Accordingly, an education program for expelled students would have to contain all of the programmatic requirements of “alternative education” schools and programs (as opposed to merely consisting of homebound tutoring).  While some school districts already offer “alternative education,” many others do not.   It is self-evident that increasing the amount of hours of instruction for expelled students (and establishing new alternative education programs) would cause a significant increase in expenses for local and regional school districts.   However, there appeared to be no consideration of the fiscal impact for school districts from the increased cost of providing educational programs for expelled students.

Perhaps understanding that it is grossly unfair to impose a potentially costly new unfunded mandate upon school districts at the same time that it would be cutting their aid, the legislature this spring passed PUBLIC ACT 17-220: AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATION MANDATE RELIEF.  Among other things, this Act provided that an alternative educational opportunity for expelled students may be either a) an “alternative education” school/program, if provided by the district, or b) an alternative education opportunity consistent with standards that were to be developed by the State Board of Education [“SBE”] by August 15, 2017. According to Public Act 17-220, these standards for the provision of an adequate alternative educational opportunity for expelled students were to at least include the kind of instruction and number of hours to be provided to expelled students.

What has happened? 

First, the SBE missed the statutory deadline for issuing these standards for educating expelled students, leaving school districts in the lurch.  In fact, the SBE’s “Legislative and Policy Development Committee” just issued its “draft” of these standards.   The standards defy the very title of the recently enacted legislation in that they do not in any cognizable way reduce the mandate imposed upon local and regional school districts by Public Act 16-147.  The Committee even sidestepped the mandate that the standards set forth the number of hours of instruction to be provided to expelled students; indeed, a word search of the document did not locate the word “hours.”  Instead, the draft document generally republishes the standards that exist for “alternative education” schools and programs, and thus has the effect of a) locking in the five hour per day mandate, and b) generally requiring that the expelled student be educated in such alternative education schools and programs.

The draft standards provide that the State expects that expelled students receive such alternative education, except in “rare cases in which placement in such a setting would not be suitable or in which such a setting may not be available.”  It is questionable whether a small school district could simply argue that since it does not have such a program, it is relieved of the obligation of offering such a program; more likely, the small district may now be expected to contract with another entity to provide these services.  The State further states its expectations for educational programs for expelled students “are unlikely to be satisfied by assignment to homebound instruction.” The draft standards also impose other significant programmatic mandates, which my colleague Melinda Kaufmann will discuss in a subsequent post.

Finally, the Committee covered territory beyond its charge – such as programs for students who have already been expelled — by also delving into the actual expulsion hearing process and mandating procedures that are beyond any statutory requirements. The draft standards appear to dictate to school districts what their expulsion policies must contain in terms of decision making processes and other mandates not contained in any statute. For example, they state that school board policies must explicitly include guidelines regarding the appropriate length of expulsions as well as a right to early re-admission from an expulsion that is possibly beyond what is provided in the statutes.  Especially alarming is the statement that schools should provide notice to students and their parents prior to expulsion hearings of their right against self-incrimination.   Simply put, such a right does not exist with respect to expulsion hearings and any other non-criminal proceedings.

What can you do? 

These standards are in draft form, and will be subject to the approval of the full State Board of Education. The next meeting of the SBE is October 4, 2017; it is not sure if the draft standards will be discussed or acted upon at this meeting. Nevertheless, you may wish to let your voices be heard prior to or at this meeting.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Pullman & Comley - School Law | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Pullman & Comley - School Law
Contact
more
less

Pullman & Comley - School Law on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.