You can be Emergency or Indefinitely Suspended for:

  • Felony Charges: if there are felony or felony delinquency charges against you, you can be indefinitely suspended until those charges are resolved if the principal holds a hearing and determines that your continued presence in school would have a “substantial detrimental effect” on the general welfare of the school.
  • You can be emergency suspended if you allegedly committed one of the offenses below and your presence is determined to be a danger to the school, there is no alternative to alleviate this danger, and it is impossible to give a notice and a hearing.

You can be short-term suspended, or long-term suspended (up to 90 days) for:

  • Possession of a dangerous weapon, like a knife or taser, of no reasonable use which is used in a threatening manner.

  • Possession of a firearm

  • Felony charges

  • Assault on anyone, including sexual assault. Assault and battery on any person that causes physical injury, unless you reasonably thought your actions were necessary to protect yourself.

  • Bullying, including cyberbullying

  • Using an object in a dangerous or threatening manner

  • Endangering others’ safety by setting or attempting to set school property on fire

  • Sexual harassment

  • Using racial or ethnic slurs in a persistent or abusive way

  • Trying to steal someone else’s private property with force or threatening force

  • Damaging or stealing school’s property or someone else’s private property

  • Using the BPS network for illegal or commercial activity including violating copyright laws or for inappropriate activities including sending information/using language others find offensive, tampering with BPS' technology system, or revealing personal information about another person (such as address, telephone number) on the network.

  • Sexting

  • Making a Bomb Threat

  • Pulling a Fire Alarm

  • Possession or use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs on school property, at school sponsored activities, or while on school-provided transportation. This includes narcotic drugs, hallucinogenic drugs, amphetamines, barbiturates, marijuana, alcohol, or an intoxicant of any kind. 

  • Use of tobacco products on school on school property, at school-sponsored activities, or while on school provided transportation. This includes e-cigarettes, hookah paraphenalia, and vapor (vape) cigarettes.

(Source: BPS Code of Conduct, Sections 7.2-7.7, P. 22)

You can also be short-term or long-term suspended if you do any of the following things in a “repeated, aggravated, or flagrant manner.” That means you probably won't be suspended for doing these things once, you have to do them repeatedly:

  • Preventing other people from using part of the school building or grounds
  • Intentionally and continuously preventing normal school functions and teaching of students, like having your cell phone going off all the time

You can be short-term suspended for up to 10 days for repeatedly:

  • Refusing to tell staff who you are, or lying when they ask
  • Being in a part of the school building or grounds where students are not allowed
  • Leaving the school building without permission
  • Excessive cutting of classes (if alternatives have already been tried to re-engage you, a three-day suspension will be recommended)
  • Intentionally preventing school staff from investigating violations of the Code of Conduct

 (BPS Code of Conduct Section 7.8, p. 26)

What is a suspension?

A suspension is any time you are removed from the school premises and your regular classroom activities or when you are kept out of class for more than 90 minutes or two class periods, whichever period is shorter.  If you're out of class for counseling/intervention services that doesn't count as a suspension.

 Source: BPS Code of Conduct, Section 6.1., Section 21.44

There are four kinds of suspensions: short-term and long-term suspensions, indefinite suspensions, and emergency suspensions. Short-term and long-term suspensions can be in-school (sometimes called “in-house”) or out-of-school.

If you are sent home early, that IS a suspension.

Types of suspensions:

  • Short-term Suspension: This is when you are excluded from your school and the classroom for less than ten days in school year. If you are 15 years old or younger, you can only be placed on a short-term suspension for three days at a time.  If you are 16 years or older you can only be placed on a short-termed suspension for 5 days at a time. 

(Source: BPS Code of Conduct, Section 6.1., Section 21.44)

  • Long-term Suspension: When you are excluded from your school for more than 10 days during a school year (either consecutively or in total). This means that you can be short-term suspended for up to ten days, but any more within that school year means it's a long-term suspension. This includes in-school suspensions.

(Source: BPS COC 10.1.1,p. 39)

  • Indefinite Suspension: When you are excluded from regular school activities for an indefinite period of time when you have been charged with a felony and it's been determined that your presence will be harmful to the school's welfare.

(Source: BPS COC, 10.1.3, p. 39)

  • Emergency Removal: When you are suspended for up to two days following an incident and 4 criteria are met: you have committed an alleged suspendable offense, your presence poses a danger to the school, there are no alternatives available to fix the danger or interference of your presence, and it is impossible (because of your behavior) to provide you with a notice and a hearing before you are suspended. 

(BPS COC, Section 8.1, p. 28)

You cannot be suspended for more than 90 days, or that counts as an expulsion. 

(BPS COC 13, p. 48)

If you are out of your usual classroom for more than 90 minutes or two class periods, whichever time period is shorter, that’s an in-school suspension. Where possible, safe, supportive and non-exclusionary remedies and processes should be attempted before you are removed from class at all. When you're removed from class beyond ninety minutes or two class periods, it counts as a suspension and requires the notification of suspension procedures to be initiated.

(BPS Code of Condcut, Section 6.1, p.21)

Anytime you are out of the class for ninety minutes or two class periods, notice of the suspension procedures must be initiated. Unless you are receiving counseling/intervention services

(BPS Code of Conduct, Section 6.1-6.2, p. 21).

Your School has to do 3 things before Suspending you:

Try an Alternative 

Use non-exclusionary disciplinary alternatives. That means that the school has to actually try other kinds of discipline first that keep you in school. The school has to have documentation proving they tried using alternatives. 

(BPS COC Section 3.1.1. p. 12)

Notice

Tell you and your parent/guardian in writing that they need to meet to discuss possible suspension and for how long your suspension might be for. This has to be in writing (in English and the language spoken in your home)

BPS COC Section 9.4.1, p.31

Hearing

Hold a hearing where you meet with school staff, probably a principal or designee. At this hearing you will have a chance to explain your side of the story. The school has to try to get in touch with your parent/guardian at least twice. If your parent/guardian wants to attend but can’t make the scheduled the time, or can’t be reached, the hearing needs to be delayed for up to 48 hours.

BPS COC Section 9.4.4, p. 31)

The school has to go through the three steps of Notice, Hearing, and Alternatives BEFORE they suspend you. Remember, suspensions include in-school suspension (like being sent to the principal’s office) and being sent home early. You have a right to STAY IN SCHOOL until the notice, hearing, and alternatives happen unless you have charged with a felony and your presence would be a danger at school.

If you are being arrested you have the right to exercise your Miranda Rights.

Exception: your school can emergency suspend you for the day of the alleged incident and 2 additional school days without the alternatives, notice, and hearing

(BPS COC 21.45)

 

If You Have A Disability:

Short-term suspensions work the same for students with disabilities and students without disabilities.

Your school has to know about your disability BEFORE the incident. If they do not, you will get the same disciplinary process as students without disabilities.

If the school is trying to suspend you for more than 10 days in a school year, first, the school has to conduct a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR).

(BPS Code of Conduct Section 15.5.3)

Here’s how an MDR works:

An MDR is a special kind of IEP meeting that the school has to hold before doing the usual suspension hearing. At the MDR, your special education team – which includes you and your parent/guardian – will talk and ask two questions:

  1. Did the alleged Code of Conduct violation occur because of your disability?
  2. Did the alleged Code of Conduct violation occur because the school failed to implement your IEP as written?

If the answer to EITHER of those questions is “yes” then the school cannot suspend you.

(BPS Code of Conduct Section 15.5.3)

Your Rights During your Suspension Hearing:

  • You have the right to have your parent/guardian at your hearing, as well as an attorney or an advocate there to defend you. The school does not have have to provide you with a free attorney, but if you have one they can come to the hearing and represent you.

(Source: BPS COC, Exhibit 3, p. 36)

  • You have the right to have a translator at the hearing for either you or your parent/guardian.

  • The hearing will be conducted by someone in school administration, like the principal or vice principal, unless there is a conflict of interest (for example if that school official is the alleged victim)

(BPS COC, 9.5.1, p. 32)

  • The person running the hearing must make sure you understand the charges against you. 

(BPS COC, 9.5.3)

  • You can call witnesses, like a therapist or other students for example, who can offer evidence that you shouldn't be expelled- if it will not endanger the person. If the school calls witnesses to testify against you, you have a right to ask those witnesses questions too. This is called cross-examining. The person running the hearing can stop questions if they think the questions are disrespectful, intimidating, or irrelevant. 

(BPS COC, 9.5.4)

  • You will have the opportunity to state your own version of the events. 

  • The school will record the audio of the hearing if it could result in a long-term suspension or expulsion. The school is not required to record the hearing if it could result in just a short-term suspension. You have the right to get an audio recording of the hearing within five days of the hearing. Your hearing is private unless you want it to be made public.

(BPS COC, 10.4.1)

  • If you testify it can be later used in a civil or criminal court, if you do not testify it is NOT an indication that you are guilty.

BPS COC, Exhibit 4, p. 43)

  • You are innocent until proven guilty. The school has to show that it is more likely than not that the offense occurred, that it gave you notice, and that it used alternatives to exclusion first.

(BPS COC, 9.5.7-9.5.8)

  • The school leader running the hearing can take your entire student record into account when deciding whether to expel you.

If the person running the hearing decides to suspend you, they have to let you know in person and in writing within 24 hours after the hearing. The letter they give you has to clearly say the specific things for which you are being suspended, the length of your suspension, and your right to appeal

(BPS COC, 9.6.2, p. 32)

If You Are Suspended:

You can’t be suspended more than 90 days in a school year. Remember that if it’s a short-term suspension, you can’t be suspended for more than 3 school days if you’re 15-years-old or younger at a time; 5 days at a time if you’re 16-years-old or older.

You must be given the opportunity to make academic progress while you’re suspended or expelled. If you are suspended for 10 days or less that means you have to be able to make up assignments, do your homework, take quizzes and tests, etc. If you are suspended or expelled for more than 10 consecutive days you must be given an education service plan to keep up with your education , which could include tutoring, Saturday School, alternative placement, or online learning.

(MA General Laws, Chapter 222 )

Appealing Your Suspension

If you are suspended and you disagree, you can appeal the decision to the superintendent of Boston Public Schools within 10 SCHOOL DAYS of your suspension. 

(BPS COC, Section 9.8, p. 34)

You can appeal the decision by writing: “I want to appeal my suspension of [date] at [blank] school.” Then mail it to: 

Superintendent’s Hearing Officer

Boston Public Schools

2300 Washington Street, Roxbury, MA 02119 

(BPS COC, Exhibit 3, p. 38)

Your appeal will be heard by someone in the superintendent’s office, called a Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer will schedule the appeal hearing within three days after getting your request. The Hearing Officer has to do their best to schedule it when you, your parents, your lawyer or advocate (if you have one) and only with a Release of Information, and any witnesses you want to come can be there. 

(BPS COC, 9.8.1, p. 34)

What to Expect at your Appeal Hearing:

  • The hearing will be audio-recorded by the Hearing Officer.

  • First, the Hearing Officer will ask the principal at your school to present the case against you.

  • Then the Hearing Officer and you, or your attorney/advocate, will have a chance to ask the principal questions.

  • You can present witnesses and testimony. You can also ask questions of any witnesses the school brings.

  • You can bring a lawyer or advocate if you want.

  • If the Hearing Officer decides that you did violate the Code, and the school did provide notice, hearing, and alternatives, then the Hearing Officer will uphold your suspension.

  • The Hearing Officer has to provide a decision in writing within five calendar days.

(BPS COC, Exhibit 3, p. 38)

You can’t be suspended twice for the same offense! 

(BPS COC, 9.3.2, p. 30)

Emergency removal

You can only get an emergency removal for up to two days following an incident if 4 criteria are met:

  • You have committed an alleged suspendable offense

  • Your presence poses a danger to the school

  • There are no alternatives available to fix the danger or interference of your presence

  • It is impossible (because of your behavior) to provide you with a notice and a hearing before you are suspended. 

(BPS COC, Section 8.1, p. 28)