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Changes to Connecticut Law on Suspension and Expulsion

In its Regular Session, the Legislature made several changes to the laws regarding suspension and expulsion of students in Connecticut schools.  Some of these changes went into effect on July 1, 2007, while others will not go into effect until July 1, 2008.  Knowing which is which is important, since these changes will impact the type of disciplinary action that may be taken in the case of a disciplinary infraction during the 2007-2008 school year.

Public Act 07-122, which went into effect July 1, 2007, provides permissible conditions for waiver and/or expungement of suspension and expulsion terms for “first-time offenders”.  If the student has never been suspended or expelled before and commits an offense that would lead to suspension, the statute now provides explicit authority for the administration to waive or shorten the suspension period if the student completes a program specified by the administration or meets conditions specified by the administration.  The catch?  The school district may not require the family to pay for the completion of the required program.  Once the program is completed, the administration may choose to expunge the record of suspension from the student’s record.  A second provision in the Act amends Section 10-233d to allow the same terms for students who are brought forward for expulsion for the first time, provided that they have a “clean” discipline record and have never been suspended before.

Public Act 07-066, which does not go into effect until July 1, 2008 and therefore does not affect the 2007-2008 school year, changes the allowable maximum time for in-school suspension from five (5) days to ten (10) days.  The Act further provides that suspensions “shall be in-school suspensions” unless the administration determines that the student poses such a danger to persons or property or such a disruption to the educational process that the student must be excluded from school during the period of suspension.  Since suspensions for misconduct on school grounds are permitted for conduct that merely violates board of education policy without meeting the standard of either “serious disruption to the educational process” or “endangering persons or property”, such suspensions for “mere policy violations” will be in-school suspensions under the new statute.  School districts have one year to put in place the “infrastructure” needed to supervise in-school suspension for the 2008-2009 school year.  Will your district be ready?