By Alice Wellborn
Everyday Education 

School Rules Reflect Work Place Rules


All school systems have disciplinary rules and procedures that are based on state and federal laws and local school board policies. In Transylvania County Schools, the purpose of the Code of Student Conduct is to keep our children safe and healthy in a respectful environment that allows them to concentrate on learning. This is good! But all parents need to understand the specific rules and consequences that are outlined in the Code of Student Conduct because those rules and consequences can change your child’s life in a heartbeat. That’s why all parents are asked to review the student handbook every year and sign off that they have done so.

The Code of Student Conduct for Transylvania County Schools can be found on the school system website under the Board of Education tab. The rules and consequences are also included in the student handbooks. A copy of the student handbook for each individual school can be found on the school website under the Student Resources tab. The Student Code of Conduct for Brevard Academy can be found on the school website under the Parent and Student Information tab.

School rules apply anywhere on school property, on school buses and at bus stops, during any school-sponsored activity, or any time school staff are in charge of a group of students. In short, school rules apply at any place and time that student behavior has an impact on school operations or safety. We all want a safe, respectful, and orderly environment for our children.

Parents and students need to be aware that lots of devices, substances, and behaviors are covered by the Code of Student Conduct, and that the rules may vary according to grade level. The rules for cell phones and electronic devices change at the high school level, for example, as do the rules governing public displays of affection. Lockers at the middle and high school level are school property and subject to search.

The code also includes rules about appropriate dress, tobacco, drugs and alcohol, bullying and harassment, and computer misuse. In North Carolina, a student’s drivers license can be revoked for infractions involving drugs, alcohol, weapons, and physical assault on school staff.

There is an extensive list of behaviors, consequences, and possible behavioral interventions in the code. Behavioral infractions are grouped in levels from I to V, and consequences are applied accordingly.

Level I infractions include inappropriate language, cheating, disruptive behavior, and non-compliance. Level I consequences are generally applied in school, and include detention, time-out, and in-school suspension.

Level II infractions include verbal abuse, threats, bullying, and theft. Students can receive a short-term suspension for breaking a Level II rule.

Levels III through V include behaviors that will probably involve a report to law enforcement. Examples include assault, weapons, drugs and alcohol, and bomb threats. Consequences at these levels can include long-term suspension or even expulsion.

Corporal punishment is prohibited in Transylvania County Schools. School principals are allowed to consider aggravating or mitigating circumstances when deciding on a consequence. Parents and students can appeal a principal’s decision to the superintendent, and then to the school board if necessary.

It is very important for parents to support school disciplinary rules and procedures. Children have to learn that rules apply to them, and they have to learn it early. Otherwise, little problems can turn into big ones very quickly. Some children need to learn the hard way, and parents have to let it happen. If children don’t learn to follow rules, respect authority, and respect the needs and rights of other people by the time they are nine or 10 years old, they probably never will. If a child enters middle school with behavior problems, it is likely that they will have delinquent behaviors by high school.

So what should you do if your child runs up against the discipline policy in a big way?

If it’s a major offense that could require suspension, expulsion, or referral to law enforcement, you will have to respond immediately to a request to come to school. Ask what the conference is about and who will be there before you hang up the phone. If possible, call a family member or friend to meet you at the school.

Take notes, and ask the school staff to explain anything you don’t understand. Ask for a written copy of the discipline policy to refer to during the meeting.

There is an appeals procedure that you need to know about. Get that in writing too. Ask questions and know your options.

If you are upset or confused, ask for some time before making a decision. School decisions can be very important for your child’s future.

Consult a lawyer if the school system is recommending expulsion or referral to law enforcement.

Protect your child’s future. You need to make sure that your child is fairly treated, but you also need to make sure that your child learns the lesson! School rules are generally the same rules that apply in the work place and in real life. Success in life depends on learning and following those rules.

(Wellborn is currently a school psychologist in Transylvania County schools.)


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