General Investigative Steps and Disciplinary Procedures


I.    General Investigative Steps and Disciplinary Procedures

    A.    General Investigative Steps

        1.    Reported Allegation
    
                When an alleged student violation of the student discipline code or school policy is reported, review the rules governing the conduct to 
                ensure that the misconduct is a punishable offense. 

  2.    Investigation  

                A violation of the student discipline code or school policy should result in an immediate investigation by the administrator who is 
                assigned discipline responsibilities.

                    a.   Importance of Immediacy of Investigation

                            The importance of conducting an immediate investigation upon learning of student misconduct cannot be over-emphasized. The 
                            two primary reasons for this:

                            (1)    More evidence will be obtained when the 
evidentiary trail is fresh; 

                                    and

                            (2)    More evidence will assist with making proper decisions and proper decisions help avoid litigation.  

                    b.    Searches

                            The Student Discipline Act gives school officials authority to discipline students for conduct on school grounds, in school 
                            vehicles, and at school activities, and the Student Discipline Act provides the implied authority to search students as part of the 
                            authority to discipline students.

                            (1)    The implied authority to search, however, is limited (just like the authority to discipline) to searches on school grounds, in 
                                     school vehicles, and at school activities. 

                            (2)     Vehicles parked off school grounds may not be searched. For matters off school grounds and involving suspected criminal 
                                       activity, school officials are to call law enforcement.

                            (3)    A student's electronic device/s may be searched in cases where the building administrator deems warranted.

    3.    Investigative Steps

            a.   During the investigation, it is not always desirable to obtain parental permission before interviewing a student; however, it is up to the 
                  judgment of the investigator. Asking parental permission may create an expectation by parents that it is their right to be present during 
                  interviews. In some cases, parents can contaminate or impede the interview, and policy does not require parental permission. There 
                  would also inevitably be those parents who would not allow their child to be questioned.

            b.   Administrators should ask students to complete affidavits immediately prior to or after the interview. It is important that written 
                  statements are taken before the student has had a chance to talk to others and potentially contaminate the student’s statement. Use only 
                  the official affidavit forms which are provided in this manual.  

    4.    The following steps are suggested to enable a thorough investigation:

            a.    Interview the Complainant  

                   The complainant reporting the alleged violation should be interviewed to determine the following: 

                   (1)    How the person acquired the information.

                   (2)    If the alleged violation is contained in the student discipline code or school policy. 

                   (3)    Who, what, when, where, and how the alleged violation occurred.

                   (4)    Corroboration of the complainant’s allegations: 

                             (a)    Names of other witnesses.

                             (b)    Supporting evidence (writings, photos, etc.). 

                             (c)    Name(s) and/or description(s) of alleged offenders.

            b.    Interview Other Witnesses

                    All witnesses should be interviewed.

                    (1)    Determine if they were eyewitnesses.

                    (2)    Determine who, what, when, where, and how the alleged violation occurred.

                    (3)    Determine if they can substantiate the alleged offender's misconduct.  

                    (4)    Determine if they know whether there is tangible evidence or other witnesses.

            c.    Question the Alleged Offender

                   The alleged offender must be interviewed before taking a disciplinary action.

                    (1)    Conduct the interview in the presence of a witness, at the discretion of the building administrator.

                    (2)   Concentrate your inquiry on obtaining facts that would serve as evidence whether the student did or did not violate the student     
                            discipline code or school policy. 

                    (3)   Question the alleged offender to determine if he/she will admit to the alleged violation. 

                    (4)   If the offender does not admit to the alleged violation, ask the offender for names of corroborating witnesses.

                    (5)   Question the alleged offender to determine if there is tangible evidence that will corroborate his/her statement.

                    (6)    Once removed from class, interview the alleged offender within a reasonable timeframe.

            d.   Question Corroborating Witnesses  

                  Corroborating witnesses should be interviewed.

                      (1)   Determine if they were eyewitnesses.

                      (2)   Determine who, what, when, where, and how the alleged violation occurred.

                      (3)   Determine if they support/refute the alleged offender's statement. 

                      (4)   Determine if they know whether there is tangible evidence or other witnesses.

                      (5)   Once removed from class, interview the corroborating witness within a reasonable timeframe.

            e.   Written Statements  

                  Obtain Affidavits from all witnesses. The statement must be signed and dated by the witness in front of a Notary Public (Appendix I-
                  A2 for proper Affidavit form).

                        (1)    Prepare a typed Affidavit for witnesses if you have time or if the student is not developmentally capable of writing a coherent     
                                 statement. Make sure it says what the student is saying in their words and have them sign it.

                        (2)    The person authoring the Affidavit may write it out long hand if there is insufficient time to type it. 

                         (3)    Give students who are completing an Affidavit a copy of “Instructions for Completion of an Affidavit” to make sure that 
                                 students write all of the information they know about the incident.

            f.    Tangible Evidence  

                   Gather tangible evidence.

                        (1)    Document when, where, and from whom the evidence was obtained.

                        (2)    Keep the evidence in a secure location.


             g.  Student Records  

                      Review the student's records to determine if previous disciplinary actions or other written information may be relevant to the 
                      potential disciplinary action. Make sure this determination is made prior to the hearing so that it can be produced and used at the 
                      hearing.

             h.    Review the Records for Disabilities  

                    Determine:

                        (1)    Is the student currently in special education or being evaluated for special education placement?

                        (2)    Does the student currently have or being considered for a 504 Plan?

                        (3)    Based on the responses to questions 1 and 2, determine if the student is to have a manifestation determination.


    5.    Review Case and Determine Sanction 

            Review the evidence obtained to determine whether the evidence reasonably supports a finding that the student discipline code or school 
  policy has been violated. When issuing a long-term suspension or greater disciplinary action, please contact the Director of Student Services.      
 
   In order to impose suspension, expulsion, or mandatory reassignment, the misconduct must: 

               a.    Violate a District Policy, Rule, the District's Standards for Student Conduct, or an individual school's written policy, 

                        and  

               b.    The sanction must be within the range of specified sanctions for the misconduct. 


B.    General Disciplinary Procedures

        1.    Required Parent/Guardian Contact

               a.    The administration shall make immediate contact with the parent/guardian to inform them of an immediate suspension or expulsion.  

               b.    The parent/guardian shall be requested to come to the school to pick up the student.

               c.    If the parent/guardian cannot come to the school, the student shall remain in the office for the remainder of the school day or until 
                      the parent/guardian arrives.

        2.    Written Notification of Student and Parent(s) or Guardian(s)  

               Student and parent(s) or guardian(s) should be kept informed of the student's behavior.

              a.    If no disciplinary action is taken, administrators should use their own discretion about the advisability of informing the parent(s) or        
                     guardian(s) of the student's behavior. Keeping parent(s) or guardian(s) well informed is encouraged. 

              b.   If disciplinary action is taken involving suspension, expulsion, mandatory reassignment, or emergency exclusion, then the District     
                    must comply with the procedural requirements of the Act. Determine what sanction below is appropriate and then proceed to the 
                    section indicated for further instruction. 

                    (1)    Short-Term Suspension: (Section II)

                    (2)    Long-Term Suspension, Expulsion, or Mandatory Reassignment: (Section III)  

                    (3)    Emergency Exclusion: (Section IV)

             c.    If disciplinary action involves a resolution or seclusion action, a parent notification letter shall be generated and mailed as outlined in 
                    Rule 5495.2.