Relating to school discipline; to amend Section 16-1-14, Code of Alabama 1975; to prohibit a public school from suspending or expelling students in certain circumstances; to require a public school that has expelled or suspended a student for a long period of time to hold a hearing on the expulsion or suspension; to establish hearing procedures; and to require the State Board of Education to adopt rules.
Section 16-1-14, Code of Alabama 1975, is amended to read as follows: "§16-1-14. "(a) As used in this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings: "(1) EXPULSION. The exclusion of a student for more than 90 days from the student's regular school environment for disciplinary purposes. "(2) LONG-TERM SUSPENSION. The exclusion of a student for more than 10 but no more than 90 school days from the student's regular school environment for disciplinary purposes. "(b) Any city, county, or other local public school board shall Each local board of education, consistent with Section 16-28-12, prescribe shall adopt rules and regulations with respect to behavior and discipline of pupils students enrolled in the schools under its jurisdiction and, in order to enforce such the rules and regulations, may remove, isolate, or separate pupils who create disciplinary problems in any classroom or other school activity and whose presence in the class may be detrimental to the best interest and welfare of the pupils students of such the class as a whole. Any rules and regulations adopted pursuant to this section shall be approved by the State Board of Education. "(c) Any such removal, isolation, or separation authorized under this section may not deprive such pupils a student of their his or her full right to an equal and adequate education. "(d) A student in pre-K through fifth grade may not be suspended or expelled from a public school unless the student's behavior endangers the physical safety of other students or school personnel. "(e) A student in any grade may not be suspended or expelled from a public school solely for truancy or tardiness violations of a code of student conduct or state law. "(f)(1) Each local board of education shall qualify individuals to serve as impartial hearing officers under subdivision (2), pursuant to rules adopted by the State Board of Education, which shall include, but not be limited to, minimum qualifications for serving as a hearing officer and required annual training. Training of hearing officers shall include, but not be limited to, the procedures, duties, and restrictions set forth in this subsection and the short- and long-term effects of exclusionary discipline on students. "(2) Following an alleged violation of a code of student conduct or state law that results in a recommendation for long-term suspension or expulsion of a student, the local board of education shall ensure that, at a minimum, the following procedures are followed: "a. The board shall appoint a qualified impartial hearing officer to hold a disciplinary hearing. "b. The student shall be afforded an opportunity for a disciplinary hearing after reasonable written notice is delivered personally or by mail to the student and to the student's parent or legal guardian. The notice must include the time, place, and nature of the hearing; a short and plain statement of the alleged conduct and of the code of student conduct policy or rule or state law that was allegedly violated; the names of any witnesses who may participate in the hearing; and a statement outlining the student's rights at the hearing. "c. The disciplinary hearing shall take place within 10 school days of the initial suspension or expulsion. "d. The student has the opportunity to be represented by legal counsel or another advocate of the student's choice at the hearing. "e. The student, parent or guardian, and the student's representative have the right, before the hearing, to review any audio or video recordings of the incident and, consistent with federal and state student records laws, rules, and regulations, any records, documents, any other information that may be presented as evidence at the hearing, including written statements made by witnesses related to the alleged incident leading to the suspension or expulsion. "f. Prior to the hearing, there shall be an informal conference with the student and the student's parent or legal guardian as follows: "1. During the informal conference, the local superintendent or his or her designee shall provide any physical, electronic or documentary evidence related to the incident or alleged infraction to the student for review. "2. The student shall have the opportunity to defend him or herself verbally or submit any evidence or information which may impact any potential discipline. No information provided by the student during the informal conference may be used against him in any subsequent hearing for the same offense. "g. At the hearing, all parties shall be allowed to present evidence relating to the alleged violation and any evidence demonstrating whether the long-term suspension or expulsion is or is not commensurate with the violation and in the best interest of the education of the student. "h. A party may request an electronic or written record of the hearing. "i. Based on the evidence presented at the hearing, the hearing officer shall make a determination of whether suspension or expulsion is appropriate and provide written notice of the decision to the student and to the parent or guardian not more than five school days after the date of the hearing. The notice shall include all of the following: "1. The basis for the determination, including a reference to the policy, rule, or law that the student allegedly violated and any other evidence relied on by the hearing officer in making the determination. "2. Notice of what information will be included in the student's official record. "3. Notice of the student's right to appeal the decision under the school's code of student conduct and Section 12-15-115 and notice of the procedures for the appeal. "(3) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules addressing all of the following: "a. Restrictions on communications between hearing officers and school personnel, members of boards of education, students, and other individuals in order for hearing officers to maintain impartiality. "b. Except as otherwise provided in Sections 16-1-24.1 and 16-1-24.3, what factors a hearing officer must consider when determining whether long-term suspension or expulsion is an appropriate disciplinary measure commensurate with the violation committed. "c. What other information is appropriate to admit as evidence at a hearing, taking into account other considerations relating to whether expulsion or long-term suspension is in the best interest of the education of the student or is violative of the requirements of subsection (c). "d. Any other issue the board deems relevant and necessary to implement this section. "(g) Nothing in this section shall be construed to infringe on any right provided to students pursuant to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or the Americans with Disability Act of 1990."
This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law. Senate Read for the first time and referred to the Senate committee on Education Policy..................... 1.3-FEB-20Read for the second time and placed on the calen- dar 1 amendment.................................. 2.7-FEB-20Read for the third time and passed as amended .... 1.2-MAR-20 Yeas 26 Nays Patrick Harris, Secretary.
|March 12, 2020||S||Engrossed|
|March 12, 2020||S||Motion to Read a Third Time and Pass adopted Roll Call 407|
|March 12, 2020||S||Smitherman motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 406|
|March 12, 2020||S||Smitherman Amendment Offered|
|March 12, 2020||S||Smitherman motion to Adopt adopted Roll Call 405|
|March 12, 2020||S||Education Policy Amendment Offered|
|March 12, 2020||S||Third Reading Passed|
|March 5, 2020||S||Smitherman motion to Carry Over to the Call of the Chair adopted Voice Vote|
|March 5, 2020||S||Third Reading Carried Over to Call of the Chair|
|February 27, 2020||S||Read for the second time and placed on the calendar 1 amendment|
|February 13, 2020||S||Read for the first time and referred to the Senate committee on Education Policy|