Due Process & Grievance Procedures
No student shall be deprived of the right to an equal educational opportunity without due process of law. Due process requires that we establish procedures to guarantee that discipline that denies access to educational opportunity is administered for a good and just cause. The procedures are designed to ensure that corrective action, if any, is taken only after a thorough examination of the facts. The nature of the corrective action must be reasonably related to the nature of the circumstances of the violations. The definitions and rules have been adopted by the State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and are published as Chapter 392-400 WAC. Full grievance and appeal procedures can be found in Policy 3240 and Procedure 3240.
- Grievance Procedure for Discipline & Short-Term Suspension
- Due Process for Long-Term Suspension or Expulsion
- Due Process for Emergency Expulsion
- Due Process for Emergency Removal
- Discipline of Students who Qualify for Special Education Services
- Discipline of Students who Qualify for Section 504 Services
A grievance procedure exists to provide an opportunity for a student to seek a remedy for the unfair application of rules, regulations, or procedures. The student, parent, or guardian who is aggrieved by the imposition of discipline or short-term suspension shall have the right to an informal conference with the building principal or designee for the purpose of resolving the grievance, pursuant to WAC 392-400-240 and district policy 3240. If not resolved at the building level the student, parent or guardian can present a written or oral grievance to the District’s Ombudsman; if still unresolved the student, parent or guardian can present a written or oral grievance to the School Board. Please see procedure 3240P for timelines and details.
Prior to the long-term suspension or expulsion of a student, written notice of an opportunity for a hearing shall be delivered in person or by certified mail to the student and to his/her parent or guardian. The notice shall:
- Be provided in the predominant language of a student and/or a parent(s) or guardian(s) who predominantly speak a language other than English, to the extent feasible;
- Specify the alleged misconduct and the school district rule alleged to have been violated;
- Set forth the corrective action or punishment proposed;
- Set forth the facts that a written or oral request for a hearing must be received by the Student Placement office, on or before the expiration of the third school business day after the receipt of the notice of opportunity for a hearing;
- If such a request is not received within the prescribed period of time, then the right to a hearing shall be deemed to have been waived and the proposed long-term suspension or expulsion may be imposed by the school district without any further opportunity for the student or his/her parent or guardian to contest the matter;
- The student and his/her parent or guardian have the right to reply to the notice of opportunity for a hearing and request a hearing within 3 school business days after the date of receipt of notice. A request for a hearing shall be provided to the Student Placement office. A request for a hearing shall be accepted orally or in writing pursuant to WAC 392-400-265, WAC 392-400-280, and district policy 3240; and
- A student, parent, or guardian shall have 3 school business days after receiving the hearing decision involving the suspension or expulsion to appeal the decision in writing or orally to the board of directors pursuant to WAC 392-400-310 and district policy 3240.
- If an appeal is not taken to the board of directors within the required 3 school business day period, the suspension or expulsion decided upon shall be imposed as of the calendar day following expiration of the 3 school business day period.
- During the appeal period, the school administration may impose a temporary suspension for up to 10 days or until the appeal is decided, whichever is the shortest period.
The following procedural guidelines will govern an appeal to the board of directors in the case of suspension or expulsion:
- The board of directors will schedule and hold a meeting to review the matter within a period of 10 school business days from the receipt of such an appeal.
- At that time, the student, parent or guardian, and legal counsel (if desired), and representatives from the school shall be given the right to be heard and shall be granted the opportunity to present such witnesses and testimony as the board deems reasonable.
The student and his/her parent or guardian shall be notified of the emergency expulsion of the student and of their opportunity for a hearing by certified letter deposited in the U.S. mail within 24 hours of the emergency expulsion, pursuant to WAC 392-400-300 and district policy 3240. The emergency expulsion can be appealed by filing a written or oral appeal with the Student Placement Office within 3 days after receiving the notice of emergency expulsion. Please see procedure 3240 for more details. All emergency expulsions must end or be converted to another form of corrective action within 10 school days from the date of removal from school.
Students who qualify for special education services can be disciplined under the same rules as all students, with the modifications listed below as required by the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and relevant state laws.
Short-term suspensions or emergency expulsions: The general rules relating to school-based discipline or responses, short-term suspensions, or emergency expulsions apply to students who qualify for special education services when the action taken or proposed does not exceed 10 consecutive school days, or when the action taken or proposed does not constitute a pattern of removal from the school.
- Educational services do not have to be provided during the removal unless services are provided to students without disabilities.
Long-term suspensions or expulsions: If the recommended disciplinary action for a student who qualifies for special education services is a long-term suspension or expulsion, or if the removals from school constitute a pattern of removal that adds up to more than 10 days in the school year, a manifestation determination meeting must be held prior to imposing the disciplinary action but not later than 10 days after imposing the disciplinary action.
Manifestation Determination Meeting
A manifestation determination meeting is held to determine whether the student’s conduct is caused by or is the result of the student’s disability or whether the student’s conduct is the result of an inappropriate placement.
- The student’s regular Individual Education Plan (IEP) team members should participate in the meeting.
- If the conduct is not determined to be a manifestation of the student’s disability and is not the result of an inappropriate placement, the student may be disciplined like any other student, and the team should determine which educational services should be provided during the time of removal.
- If the conduct is a manifestation of the student’s disability, then an IEP meeting must be held to determine the services that should be offered in order to provide a free and appropriate public education.
- If the conduct is determined to be the result of an inappropriate placement, an IEP meeting must be held to discuss alternative placements for the student.
Interim Alternative Educational Setting
A student who qualifies for special education may be placed in an interim alternative educational setting (IAES) without a change of placement in the IEP or without a court order for (1) up to 10 days; or (2) up to 45 days if the student carries a gun or other dangerous weapon or sells or distributes illegal drugs on school property or on school-sponsored transportation or a school function; or causes severe injury to another person.
A Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) must be established for students whose behavior negatively impacts their ability to reach their educational goals. The plan should prescribe specific disciplinary procedures for the student and may include removal from school for specified amounts of time as part of the IEP. Either school personnel or the parent may request a new IEP meeting and review of the BIP if either finds that the plan is not satisfactory or is in need of revision.
Educational Obligations to a Student Pending Hearing
From the time a parent/guardian initiates a due process hearing through the appeal process, Highline Public Schools is required to providing educational services to a student who qualifies for special education, although those services may not be provided within the school setting.
Section 504 protects disabled students from being improperly removed from school for misconduct that is related to their disability. As a general rule, Section 504 and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) apply to the disciplinary removal of disabled students in a similar manner.
Disciplinary actions that exclude a student for more than 10 consecutive days or create a pattern of exclusion from school (as described in the 504 manual) require that the district evaluate the student to determine whether the student’s misconduct is either related to his or her disability or due to an inappropriate placement. This type of evaluation is commonly called a “manifestation determination.”
If a disabled student’s misconduct is a manifestation of his or her disability, a district cannot implement a disciplinary action that constitutes a significant change in placement. If a disabled student’s misconduct is not a manifestation of his or her disability, a district can discipline the student in the same manner that it disciplines non-disabled students for the same misconduct.
Under Section 504, unlike IDEA, a district does not have to provide a disabled student with educational services during the period of time the student is properly removed from school for disciplinary reasons. For more detailed procedures, see the district’s 504 manual.