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unless the student has been removed from his or her classroom
more than six times in one school year, or more than two times in
one week. When this happens, the removal must be treated as
suspension (see next section) which gives the student the right to
meet with the principal. A parent or guardian may call a school
principal if they have any questions about why his/her child was
removed from the classroom.
■ In-school suspension. A student has a right to a meeting
with the school principal before he or she may be placed on inschool
suspension. At this meeting, the principal must tell the
student the reason for the in-school suspension and must give the
student a chance to explain the situation.
A student may not be placed on in-school suspension
● for more than 5 school days in a row (10 school days in a
row starting July 1, 2009), and,
● more than 15 times, or 50 days total in a school year,
whichever is less.
■ Suspension. A student has a right to a meeting with the
school principal to discuss the reason for the suspension before the
suspension actually takes place. If a true emergency exists, the
student may be immediately suspended, but a meeting between the
principal and student must be held as soon after the suspension as
possible. If excluded from school, the student must be allowed to
return to school at the end of the suspension period.
A student may not be suspended from school for more than 10
school days in a row. A suspension is considered to be an
expulsion if the student is suspended:
● more than 10 school days in a row,
● more than 10 times, or
● a total of 50 days in one school year.
In these cases, an expulsion hearing must be held on or before
the 11th school day (or 11th suspension or 51st day of suspension).
See the legal aid pamphlet, School Expulsions.
■ First-time offenders. A school principal may shorten or
waive the suspension or expulsion period for a student who has
not previously been suspended or expelled if the student completes
a program specified by the administration. Other conditions may
also be required. Parents or students cannot be required to pay to
participate in the program established by school officials.
3. What rights does a student have if school officials want
to expel him or her?
Expulsion is the most serious of all school punishments. Both
student and parent/guardian have rights including:
■ Right to a notice. Unless an emergency exists, a parent/
guardian and a student have a right to receive a written notice five
days before an expulsion hearing. The notice must state that
officials want to expel the student and the specific reason(s) for the
proposed expulsion. The notice must include information about
how to find local free or reduced rate legal services.
■ Right to a hearing (Conn. Gen. Stat. §10 233c(a)). A
student has a right to a formal expulsion hearing within a certain
time period.
■ Right to copies of all documents. You have the right to get
copies of all documents relating to the proposed expulsion before
the hearing takes place.
■ Offer of education. A student under 16 years of age must
be offered an "alternative educational program" during the period
of time he or she is expelled from school (Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-
233d(d)). See our pamphlet School Expulsions for rules on
students between 16 and 18 years of age.
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4. Will a student's grades be lowered or will credit under
an attendance policy be lost because of a suspension?
Not if the student makes up all class work missed, including
examinations. Suspended students must be
given a chance to make up all class work and
examinations which were missed during the
suspension (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-233c(d)). A
student who makes up this work in a reasonable
period of time should be given academic credit
for the days lost from school.
It would be a good idea to find out what work or homework
will be missed during the suspension period. The parent/guardian
may need to pick the work up from school. If the work was not
completed ahead of time, as soon as the student returns to school
he/she should find out what work was missed and complete the
work on time.
5. May school officials transfer a student to another school?
School officials may reassign a student to a regular classroom
program in a different school in the school district. Such
reassignment is not considered a suspension or an expulsion and
therefore the student is not entitled to a hearing. (Conn. Gen. Stat.
§10-233f(b)).
However, school officials may not reassign or transfer a
student to an "alternative" education program or another school
that is not a regular classroom program. Such a transfer
constitutes an expulsion, and therefore, unless the parent/guardian
consents to the transfer, the student is entitled to a formal
expulsion hearing. (See our pamphlet, School Expulsions).
6. If a student is in a special education program, may he or
she be suspended or expelled from school?
If a student receives special education, he or she may be
removed from the classroom, placed on in-school suspension, or
suspended from school for up to 10 days in a row for one of the
reasons noted in Section III, Discipline, #1, above. Even if a
special education student is expelled, he or she is still entitled to
an educational program that is consistent with his or her needs
(Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 10-233d(i).).
If a special education student is suspended or removed from
the classroom, a PPT (planning and placement team) meeting
should be held. If the suspension is for
more than 10 days in a school year, a PPT
meeting must be held. The PPT should
determine whether the student's behavior is
caused by his or her disability and whether
the student's special education program
was being properly implemented. You
may wish to ask the PPT to initiate a re-evaluation of the student
to help answer these questions.
It is illegal for the school district to continually suspend or
expel a special education student for behavior which is the result
of the student's disability.
If the school district is considering recommending a special
education student for expulsion, the school must first hold a PPT
meeting to determine if the student's behavior was caused by his or
her disability. If the PPT decides that the behavior was not caused
by the disability, you can expect that an expulsion hearing will
soon be scheduled. Connecticut law allows expulsions if the
behavior was not caused by the disability. However, if you
disagree with this or any of the PPT's decisions, you have the right
to ask for a "due process hearing."
You may ask for a due process hearing by writing to your
school district's director of special education and sending a copy to
Report
Card
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the State Department of Education Due Process Unit. If you start
the "due process", the student should remain in his or her current
placement until the due process is completed. (Note: If the student
possessed a weapon or drugs or the student caused someone
serious bodily injury, the school may place him or her in an
alternative educational setting for up to 45 days, despite a due
process request.)
Even if you do not believe that a student's misconduct was
caused by his or her disability, you may still be able to stop the
expulsion hearing. The Connecticut law which permits schools to
expel special education students under the circumstances described
above may conflict with federal special education laws. The
federal laws appear to prohibit a special education student to be
expelled under any circumstances.
Therefore, if your child receives special education
and is threatened with expulsion for any reason,
you should get legal assistance right away.
IV. SCHOOL ATTENDANCE
1. What are the rules on school attendance?
Under Connecticut law, all parents or guardians of children
between the ages of 7 and 18 (except 16- or 17-
year olds whose parent/guardian has consented to
withdrawal) must see that their children attend
school (Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-184). If a parent/
guardian wishes to allow a 16-or 17-year-old to
withdraw from school, the parent/guardian must go in person to
the school district office and sign a consent form.
The parent or guardian of a child between the ages of 7 and 18
(except 16- or 17-year olds whose parent/guardian has consented
to withdrawal) who is not attending school may be fined for each
unexcused absence (Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-185); or the student may
be stopped by police or an “attendance officer” (“truant officer”) if
he or she is found on a public street during school hours and sent
to school (Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-199, 10-200).
If a student is absent from school without a valid excuse four
days in any one month or ten days in any school year, school
officials must hold a meeting with the parent/guardian to discuss
why the child has been truant. If the parent/guardian does not
attend the meeting or fails to cooperate with the school, school
officials will refer the child to the superior court for juvenile
matters (Juvenile Court) to start a "family with service needs"
(FWSN) petition.
2. May a student’s grades be reduced or course credit lost
for absences from school?
Yes. Many school systems have attendance policies that state
which absences are excused or unexcused and when a grade
reduction and/or loss of course credit is allowed if a student misses
a specific number of days from school in a given school year.
While students may lose credit for non-attendance, it is illegal for
school officials to “withdraw” a student from school based on nonattendance.
Ask for a copy of your school’s attendance policy if
you have not already received one.
3. Where does my child attend school if my family is
homeless and living in an emergency shelter?
Under federal and state law, all children, including homeless
children living in emergency shelters, have a right to a public
education. Children living in emergency shelters may attend
school either in the school district in which the emergency shelter
is located or in the school district in which they would be living if
they were not living in a shelter (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-253(e)).
Under this law, the shelter’s school district will notify the school
district where the homeless child would otherwise be living. The
school district in which the homeless child would otherwise be
living is responsible for the costs of the child’s education and it
can either pay tuition to the shelter’s school district or arrange
transportation back to that school district.
Parents/guardians may request their children continue
attending the same school during the family's period of
homelessness. If the school refuses to allow continued attendance,
parents/guardians may request a "best interest" determination by
asking for a "residency hearing" as described in #4 below.
No child should be kept out of school because of disagreement over
which school district is responsible for educating the child.
4. What if a school district claims my child is not a
resident of the school district and refuses to allow
him/her to attend school?
The parents/guardians of any student (and any student 18 years
of age and over) may immediately request a hearing by the Board
of Education whenever a school system denies a student the right
to attend school in a particular school district (unless the school
district has expelled the student). The persons denied schooling
(that is the parents, guardian, or student 18 years of age and over)
have the burden of proving residency.
The hearing must be held within 10 days of a written request, it
must be taped or some other record made of the hearing, and it
must follow specific procedures.
The student may continue to attend school in the school district
while the hearing request is pending. Caution, if the child is found
to have attended school illegally in a district where the child was
not a resident, the denied party can be liable for reimbursement of
the cost of the education.
If the student 18 years of age and over loses the hearing, the
parent/guardian or student may request a further hearing with the
State Board of Education. The parent/student must request that the
local Board of Education give them a transcript of the hearing. The
request for a further hearing must be in writing within 20 days
after the decision of the local Board of Education. A copy of the
request should be delivered to the local Board of Education at the
same time it is delivered to the State Board of Education. A
hearing must be held and a decision made by the State Board of
Education within 45 days after receipt of the request for hearing.
Again, the student may continue to attend school in the school
district while the hearing request is pending. In the case of a
district's refusal to honor homeless parents' request that their
children continue attending school while living outside the district
and a refusal to provide transportation to school, parents' should
ask for a best interest determination by asking for a residency
hearing.
If the school you want to send your child to refuses to allow
your child to attend, call Statewide Legal Services for assistance.
V. SCHOOL RECORDS
1. Does a parent or guardian have a right to look at his/her
child's school records?
Yes. Under the federal Family Educational
Rights and Privacy Act (commonly called the
“Buckley Amendment”), a student’s parent or
guardian and any student 18 years of age and
over is allowed to look at the student’s
educational records (20 U.S.C. §1232g). After receiving the
written request, the school system must produce these records
within a reasonable time (not more than 45 days). And, the school
system must provide records of special education students within
5 days of the written request.
The parent, guardian, or adult student may also ask the school
officials to explain or interpret any of the records. School officials
must respond to all reasonable requests.
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2. Are there any records a parent/guardian or student may
not see?
For the most part, parents and guardians have a full and free
right to see their child’s records. However, some records cannot
be seen, including:
■ notes made by a teacher or other school officials solely for
their personal use and which are not disclosed to other
individuals (except a substitute teacher).
■ records of school security officials, as long as these records are
kept separate from the student’s school records and kept
solely for law enforcement purposes.
■ personnel records of school employees.
A student 18 years of age or older also may be denied access to
physician, psychiatric, or psychological records made or used only
in connection with non-educational treatment and which are
disclosed only to individuals outside the school who are providing
that treatment.
3. May a student's records be released to someone other
than a parent or guardian without consent?
Generally no. The school system must receive the written
consent of the parent or guardian or student if he/she is 18 years of
age or older before school officials may disclose any information
from a student’s educational records. However, there are some
exceptions. The following information may be released without
prior consent by the parent or guardian (adult or student):
■ a student’s record may be released to teachers and other school
officials within the school system.
■ the records may be released when the disclosure of the
information is necessary because of any emergency to the
student’s health and safety.
■ certain information that is generally not considered harmful or
an invasion of privacy. This information (called “directory”
information) includes a student’s name, address and telephone
number; the date and place of birth, etc.
4. Is there anything a parent or student can do if the
information in a student's school records is not correct or
invades the student's privacy?
Yes. Under the Buckley Amendment, a parent/guardian may
ask school officials to correct or remove any information in the
student's educational records which is "inaccurate, misleading, or
an invasion of privacy."
If school officials refuse to correct the records or do not
respond to a parent's request within a reasonable amount of time,
the parent/guardian may request a hearing by writing to the
superintendent of the school district.
The hearing may be conducted by an employee of the school
system. The person should be "impartial". That is, the person
should not be the one who wrote the student's record (such as a
teacher) or the person who made the decision not to correct the
record.
At this hearing, the parent or guardian must be given a chance
to present evidence to show why the records are inaccurate,
misleading or invade the student's privacy.
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If after a hearing,
the hearing officer decides that the student’s records:
the parent or guardian
has the right to put his or
her own written statement in
the student’s record explaining
why he or she disagrees with
the information in the record.
This written statement must be
made part of the student’s
school records.
the records must
be corrected.
■ ARE inaccurate,
misleading, or invade the
student’s privacy,
■ ARE NOT inaccurate,
misleading, or invade the
student’s privacy,
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