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School Discipline Coalition

Chapter 222 Regulations

Ch. 222 requires the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) to issue regulations prior to its effective date of July 1, 2014. Therefore, in December 2013, when the Board of Elementary & Secondary Education (BESE) discussed the Ch. 222 cost study which it had submitted to the Legislature in late November, our coalition submitted testimony in advance of the issuance of proposed regulations.

In January 2014, when BESE issued proposed regulations for Chapter 222, our coalition submitted preliminary testimony regarding the regulations. Then, after a thorough review of the proposed regulations, our coalition submitted formal Public Comments, urging revisions to the regulations.

In March 2014, DESE posted preliminary discipline data for the 2012-2013 school year, about which our coalition testified to BESE in late March.

DESE Memo on Proposed Student Discipline Regulations (November, 2013)
Study of the Cost of Implementing the Student Discipline Law (November, 2013)

Statement of School Discipline Law (December, 2013)
ACLUM Statement to MA Board of Ed (December, 2013)
ELTF 5-Person Testimony (January, 2014)
DESE Memo on Proposed Student Discipline Regulations (January, 2014)
Proposed Student Discipline Regulations (January, 2014)
Letter to Commissioner Chester (February, 2014)
ELTF Public Comment (March, 2014)
BESE ETLF Testimony on Suspension Data Matt Cregor (March, 2014)
MA OSS Risk by Student Demographics (March, 2014)
MA OSS Rates for Selected Schools
(March, 2014)

Governor signs School Discipline Bill into law

On August 6, 2012 Governor Deval Patrick signed House Bill 4332 into law as Chapter 222 of the Acts of law will allow2012. This students who are excluded from school or facing exclusion to make academic progress during the period of their exclusion through alternative education programs and services provided by the school district. This law will also improve the fairness of the discipline process, and reduce the number and duration of school exclusions.

Preliminary Injunction in School Discipline Case - An example

Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012 will continue to permit disciplinary exclusions of students while felony charges are pending, but such students will be entitled to receive alternative education. Doe v. Rizzi, a new ruling issued June 6, 2013 by a MA superior court judge, concerns a 15 year old Stoughton student excluded from school under 37 H 1/2.

The ruling, which cites to the 1994 DESE advisory on school discipline, is an important reminder that disciplinary exclusion of a student while a felony charge is pending against the student, is discretionary and requires evidence that the student's "presence in school poses a substantial detriment to the general welfare of the school" and that DESE "recommends that principals reserve the exclusion power for (serious violent offenses)." In this regard, it is noteworthy that the ruling states:

Student Doe's suspension from school deprives him of critical social and educational experiences necessary for this adequate development and successful transition into the adult world. The tutoring currently provided is an inadequate substitute for Student Doe's participation in a full educational curriculum five days per week, including over five hours of individualized special education services. A few hours of tutoring per week and social promotion does not serve Student Doe well, or for that matter, any other student nor the school. When Student Doe returns to school in the Fall without the discipline and skills necessary to understand and keep up with the curriculum, this will delay other students from advancing in the classroom lessons. The substantial harm to Student Doe is abundantly clear. 

Click here to see Doe v. Rizzi ruling

Legislative Hearing

On September 27, 2011, the Education Law Task Force went before the Joint Committee on Education for a hearing on two school discipline bills, H.177 and H.178. These bills were filed to address students' access to educational services and exclusion from school. Massachusetts, during the 2009-2010 school year, of the 60,610 incidents resulting in school exclusion, more than one-half (52%, or more than 31,000) were for non-violent, non-serious "unassigned" offenses. Students missed a total of 199,056 days of school, the equivalent of 1,105 years of school.

You may access copies of the testimony in support of H.177 and H.178 by clicking any of the testimonies in the table below:

Carlos Rojas Alvarez, Student Representative on the Boston School Committee Thomas Mela, Director, Children's Law Support Project, Massachusetts Advocates for Children
Barbara Best, Director of Foundation Relations and Special Projects, Children's Defense Fund Joan Meschino, Executive Director, Massachusetts Appleseed Center
Hon. Jay Blitzman, Chief Justice, Middlesex County Juvenile Court Lisa Morrow, Staff Attorney, Children's Law Center of Massachusetts
Dan French, Executive Director, Center for Collaborative Education Joel M. Ristuccia, Ed.M., School Psychologist in Massachusetts

Peter Hahn, Attorney, on behalf of Massachusetts Bar Association

Norma Shapiro, Member of the ACLU of MA Board of Directors
Hon. Leslie Harris, Associate Justice, Suffolk County Juvenile Court Sonia Vivas, excluded student
Jennifer Honig, Senior Attorney, Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee

Leslie Walker, Executive Director, Prisoners' Legal Services

Robert Hughes, parent of an excluded student Katherine Whitehouse, Staff Attorney,. Metro West Legal Services
Daniel J. Losen, Senior Education Law and Policy Associate, The Civil Rights Project at UCLA  


Helping Children Learn

For 40 years, MAC has responded to the needs of children who are vulnerable because of poverty, race, limited English or disability and does not intend to stop. With education reform continuing to occupy a high priority on the state’s policy agenda, and with the severe economic crisis facing Massachusetts families, MAC is needed now, more than ever.

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