The Board’s Role in Student Discipline

Enforcement of the board’s student conduct and discipline code is generally an administrative function carried out by the building principal or classroom teachers. A board’s student discipline policies are sometimes challenged in court, but the courts will generally defer to the decisions of school officials in enacting rules of conduct if the rule relates to legitimate school concerns, such as avoiding disruption, maintaining a safe school environment or promoting learning. However, if the rule infringes on the constitutional rights of a student, it will be judged by a higher standard, generally balancing the student’s and the school’s interest.

In addition to policy development, a board of education may become involved in student discipline when it is necessary to expel a student from school. In many districts, the board has delegated authority to an administrator or third party to hear the expulsion case. However, even when such authority is delegated, the student must be provided an opportunity to appeal the expulsion decision. In those cases, the board of education acts as an impartial decision-maker, listening to the recommendations of the administration and the defense of the student. All parties, including the board, are often represented by legal counsel during the proceeding.