COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education
August 7, 2009
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction
The Virginia Board of Education's Student Conduct Policy Guidelines were first developed in 1994 in response to action by the 1993 General Assembly that required the Board to establish such guidelines, as reflected in § 22.1-279.6 of the Code of Virginia. The guidelines were revised in 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2009 to reflect changes in federal and state laws, regulations, and relevant case law. The intent of the guidelines is to aid school boards in developing and implementing student conduct standards and policies. Local school boards are required to adopt and revise regulations for codes of student conduct that are consistent with, but may be more stringent than, these guidelines.
The 2009 General Assembly made changes to the Code of Virginia by adopting HB 1794 (Brink) and HB 1624 (Englin). HB 1794 (Brink) amended § 22.1-277 of the Code of Virginia to restrict the use of suspension for truancy as follows "Pupils may be suspended or expelled from attendance at school for sufficient cause, however, in no cases may sufficient cause for suspensions include only instances of truancy." HB 1624 (Englin) amended the Code of Virginia at § 22.1-279.6 to require the Board of Education model policies for codes of student conduct to include guidelines for "…the use of electronic means for purposes of bullying, harassment, and intimidation,…"
In addition, the revised Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia became effective July 7, 2009. These revisions include updated requirements and regulations for disciplining children with disabilities, as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, and are included in the appendix of the guidelines.
As shown in the attached revised Student Conduct Policy Guidelines, amendments that reflect the 2009 legislative changes are as follows. The prohibition of using suspension as a consequence for truancy is addressed in the sections on the Authority and Duties of School Boards (page two), Short-term Suspension and Long-term Suspensions (page eight), and Attendance: Truancy (page nineteen). Changes made to address the inappropriate use of electronic devices for causing harm are in the sections on Bullying (page twenty-one), Internet Use (page twenty-six) and Threats: Intimidation (page twenty-seven). Revisions to Appendix B of the guidelines include the requirements for disciplining students with disabilities, as outlined in the revised Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia (pages thirty-six through thirty-nine).
Finally, the deletion of outdated information, the inclusion of current resources and publications, and minor edits enhance the purpose and usefulness of the guidelines.
The Board of Education adopted the revised 2009 Virginia Student Conduct Policy Guidelines on July 23, 2009. The guidelines may be downloaded from the Office of Student Service's website: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/guidance/safety/student_conduct.pdf.
Please direct questions to Jo Ann Burkholder, coordinator of the safe and drug-free schools program, at 804-371-7586, or Joann.Burkholder@doe.virginia.gov, or Cynthia Cave, director of the office of student services, at 804-225-2818, or Cynthia.Cave@doe.virginia.gov.
PIW / JB / nc