All students have the right to a free public education in Washington State, and that right continues even if they make mistakes.
Student discipline should be fair, reasonable, and effective. It should be about learning, and it should help support safe learning environments for all students.
If your child misbehaves or has problems in school, remember, they are still learning, and they have the right to keep learning.
As their advocate, you can help them understand what the rules are, and how to follow them. You can help make sure any consequences they receive are fair, and guide them in making amends if they hurt someone. You can help them keep their education on track and turn mistakes into opportunities to learn.
If you have the time to engage with your district’s regular review of discipline policies and practices, you can also help make sure that discipline is fair and effective for all students.
You can contact the Office of the Education Ombuds with questions or concerns relating to student discipline in Washington’s k-12 public schools. You can find us online at www.oeo.wa.gov, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 1-866-297-2597.
Here are some quick tips for trying to prevent problems, and for responding if your child does get in trouble.
- Review and talk about the school rules with your child.
- If you speak and read a different language, ask for translation or interpretation if you need it so that you can review and discuss the school rules with your child.
- Expect to get notice (a call, maybe an email) if your child is ever removed from class for behavior. If you believe you are not getting notice of each classroom removal, ask for a meeting with the teacher and principal.
- Read all discipline notices carefully, look for information about your rights to an informal conference, or a discipline hearing.
- Remember that students have a right to keep up during suspensions and expulsions. Watch for information about the educational services the school will provide during a suspension or expulsion.
- Get in touch with the contact person for the educational services and share information about your child’s particular needs and situation.
- If your child might face criminal charges in addition to school discipline, talk with a lawyer as soon as possible.
- Every suspension or expulsion has to have an end date. You do not have to wait until that end date to start talking with the school about a possible early return. Ask for an early Reengagement Meeting to begin planning early.
- If your child has an IEP or a Section 504 plan, check for information about the additional protections they have when they face school discipline (in addition to all of the rights and protections explained in this general guide on student discipline).