COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education
March 20, 2015
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Steven R. Staples, Superintendent of Public Instruction
On January 22, 2015, the Virginia Board of Education adopted its updated 2015 Student Code of Conduct Policy Guidelines. These guidelines are intended to aid school boards in developing and implementing standards and policies for student behavior and accountability. School boards are required to adopt and revise regulations for codes of student conduct that are consistent with, but may be more stringent than, the guidelines. The guidelines were revised in 2001, 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2013 to reflect changes in federal and state laws. The 2014 Virginia General Assembly enacted HB 195 (Landes), HB 752 (Rust), SB 441 (Garrett), HB 751 (Rust), HB 1112 (Garrett), SB 594 (Obenshain), and HB 484 (Kory), which are presented below. The enacted legislation necessitated further revisions to the Student Code of Conduct Policy Guidelines.
“…Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a student’s expulsion regardless of the facts of the particular situation….”
“…A school administrator, pursuant to school board policy, or a school board,
may, however, determine, based on the facts of a particular situation, that special circumstances exist and no disciplinary action or another disciplinary action
or another term of expulsion is appropriate….”
“Each school board shall develop and implement a policy to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity.”
Amendments to the Board’s Student Code of Conduct Policy Guidelines reflect the 2014 legislative changes in the following sections. Content was added to the section on Removal, Suspension and Expulsion of Pupils on page 3, in accordance with changes to the Code of Virginia that permits, but does not require students to be expelled for drug violations or for bringing a firearm or other destructive device on to school property or to a school-sponsored event. Additionally, school administrators, pursuant to school board policy, and school boards may conclude that no disciplinary action or another disciplinary action other than expulsion is appropriate for a weapon or drug violation. These changes were also inserted into the sections Expulsions for Weapons-Related Offenses, Expulsion for Drug-Related Offenses, and Weapons or Other Dangerous Articles. Additionally, “synthetic cannabinoids repealed in the Code of Virginia § 22.1-248.1:1” was also deleted from the section “Expulsion for Drug-Related Offenses.”
A new section of the Code (§ 22.1-79.5) requires school boards to address the prohibition of electronic cigarettes. The section on page 18 titled Alcohol and Drugs was changed to Alcohol, Tobacco and Related Products, and Other Drugs to accommodate the Code changes. Hence, the prohibition of “electronic cigarettes” was added to this section.
Additionally, all sample policy statements pertaining to violations were removed from the 2015 Student Code of Conduct Policy Guidelines. Many of the statements were outdated and did not reflect best practices. Other updates made to the guidelines include the deletion of outdated information, the inclusion of current resources and publications, and minor edits.
For additional information, please contact Jo Ann Burkholder, director of student services, at (804) 225-2818, or e-mail at Joann.Burkholder@doe.virginia.gov.