Each student in the Durham Public Schools is responsible for exhibiting the highest standards of behavior. The code of student conduct sets out system wide expectations for student behavior designed to provide the best possible school climate. This code does not restrict the authority of teachers, site-based teams or principals to make individual school or class rules, not inconsistent with this code.
Applicability of Code: All students shall comply with the Code of Student Conduct while on educational property, which includes any school building or bus, school campus, grounds, recreational area, athletic field, or other property under the control of the board of education. Students may also be disciplined for conduct that occurs off educational property that violates this Code of Conduct if the conduct has or is reasonably expected to have a direct and immediate impact on the orderly and efficient operation of the schools or the safety of individuals in the school environment.
Alternative Education Services – part or full-time programs, wherever situated, providing direct or computer-based instruction that allows a student to progress in one or more core courses.
Board – the Durham Public Schools Board of Education.
Day or Days – school days excluding teacher workdays, holidays, vacations days and weekends.
Destructive Device - Destructive device. – An explosive, incendiary, or poison gas:
c. Rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces.
d. Missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one‑quarter ounce.
f. Device similar to any of the devices listed.
Expulsion – permanent exclusion of a student from registering, enrolling or attending any Durham Public school. This exclusion also includes riding in a school-owned or operated vehicle and prohibits the student from participating in school activities or entering any school property.
Firearm – Any of the following:
- A weapon, including a starter gun, which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.
- The frame or receiver of any such weapon.
- Any firearm muffler or firearm silencer.
The term “firearm” does not include an inoperable antique firearm, BB gun, stun gun, air rifle, or air pistol.
Long-Term Suspension – exclusion from the school to which the student was assigned at the time of the disciplinary action and from participation in school activities or events for a period in excess of ten days but not to exceed the remainder of the school year, except that if the offense leading to the long-term suspension occurs in the final quarter of the school year, the exclusion may extend to the end of the first semester of the following school year.
Parent – includes the natural parent, legal guardian, legal custodian or other caregiver adult who is acting in the place of a parent and is entitled under state law to enroll the student in school.
Principal – includes the principal and the principal’s designee.
School Personnel – includes the following:
- Any Board employee;
- Any person working on school grounds or at a school function under a contract or written agreement with the school system to provide educational or related services to students;
- Any person working on school grounds or at a school function for another agency providing educational or related services to students.
Short-term suspension – exclusion from school and participation in school activities or events for up to ten days.
Superintendent – includes the Superintendent or the Superintendent’s designee.
Reports to Law Enforcement:
When a principal has personal knowledge or actual notice from school personnel that an act has occurred on school property involving assault resulting in serious personal injury, sexual assault, sexual offense, rape, kidnappings, indecent liberties with a minor, assault involving the use of a weapon, possession of a firearm in violation of the law, possession of a weapon in violation of the law, possession of a controlled substance in violation of the law, assault on a school employee, robbery, armed robbery, homicide, manslaughter, or death by vehicle, the principal shall report the act to the appropriate local law enforcement agency, notify parents/guardians of any alleged student victim of a violent crime and notify the Superintendent or designee. Notification must occur in writing or by electronic mail by the end of the workday in which the incident occurred, when reasonably possible, but not later than the end of the following workday. The superintendent must also provide the information to the school board.
The principal may notify law enforcement of any other potential criminal conduct or incident which may jeopardize the safety, security or well-being of the school environment.
CONSEQUENCES AND BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTIONS
Violation of Board policies, the Code of Student Conduct, regulations issued by the individual school or an individual teacher, or North Carolina law may result in disciplinary action. Principals shall inform students at the beginning of each school year of the contents of this policy and any school rules that may result in discipline. Most disciplinary consequences can occur with the student remaining in an educational environment. In-school disciplinary consequences available to principals include, for example: behavior contracts, peer mediation, in-school suspension, conflict resolution, detention, restitution, loss of privileges, and school or community service. When, in the judgment of the school principal, a student’s behavior warrants an out-of-school suspension, the principal may impose a short-term suspension or, for more serious violations of the Code of Conduct, may recommend a long-term suspension, a 365-day suspension, or expulsion. Suspensions of greater than ten days are reserved for serious misconduct which either threatens the safety of others within the school or threatens to substantially disrupt the educational environment.
In determining the appropriate consequence for a violation of this Code, principals shall consider all aggravating or mitigating circumstances they deem relevant. Examples of aggravating or mitigating circumstances that may be considered include but are not limited to:
- The student's age;
- The student's intent;
- The student's disciplinary history, including number of infractions and prior discipline for the same violation;
- The student's academic history;
- Whether the conduct caused a threat to safety;
- Whether school property or personal property was damaged;
- Whether the conduct caused a substantial disruption of the educational environment;
- Whether a weapon was involved and whether any injury resulted.
The Student Code of Conduct Rules are leveled, indicating the severity of the violation and the type of consequence. The principal shall inform students of local school rules that, if broken, may result in suspension from school.
Level I – Level I rule violations should generally result in in-school interventions in lieu of out-of-school suspensions. In cases where a student refuses to participate in the in-school interventions or engages in persistent violations of a Level I rule, or other aggravating factors are present, the principal may impose a short-term suspension. Level I rule violations may not result in long-term suspension. Any short-term suspension for truancy or tardiness shall not exceed two school days and shall only occur following documented interventions.
Level II – Level II rule violations involve more serious misconduct that may warrant short-term suspension. Principals may recommend a long-term suspension based upon the presence of aggravating factors. Any long-term suspension recommendation is subject to the appeal procedure contained in Policy 4303.
Level III – Level III rule violations are more severe in nature and support long-term suspension. The principal may impose a short-term suspension based on mitigating factors.
Level IV – Level IV rule violations compromise the safety and welfare of students and staff and require a suspension of a specific length under the North Carolina General Statutes.
Level V – Level V allows for expulsion of a student, as provided by state statute, for a violation of the Code of Conduct, if the student is fourteen (14) years of age or older and the student’s behavior indicates that his/her continued presence in school constitutes a clear threat to the safety of other students or employees and the Board determines that there is no appropriate alternative education program. Additionally, any student who is a registered sex offender under N.C. General Statute 14-208 may be expelled consistent with state law.
CODE OF CONDUCT
Level I – In-School Discipline/Possible Short-Term Suspension with Aggravating Factors
I-1 Inappropriate Language. Cursing or use of vulgar, profane or obscene language is prohibited.
I-2 Attendance. Students shall attend school regularly. Students shall be considered truant and subject to discipline whenever they are absent from class or school without valid excuse.
I-3 Cheating. Cheating includes the actual giving or receiving of any unauthorized aid or assistance or the actual giving or receiving of unfair advantage on any form of academic work.
I-4 Plagiarism. Plagiarism includes the copying of the language, structure, idea and/or thought of another and representing it as one's own original work.
I-5 Falsification. Falsification includes the verbal or written statement of any untruth.
I-6 Compliance with Directions. Students shall comply with all reasonable directions of principals, teachers, substitute teachers, student teachers, teacher assistants, bus drivers, and all other school personnel who are authorized to give such directions.
I-7 Disrespect of Other Students. Students shall not mistreat fellow students or act in a way that interferes with the ability of other students to learn in a peaceful and safe environment.
I-8 Disruptive Behavior. A student may not use any means to interrupt or interfere with teaching or orderly conduct of school activities.
I-9 Electronic Devices. Except as permitted by this policy, no student shall use, display, transmit or have in the “on” position on school property any wireless communication device or personal entertainment device, including but not necessarily limited to, cell phones, pagers, two-way radios, CD/ MP3 players, and electronic games or similar devices until after the conclusion of the instructional day. Laser pointers are prohibited.
Notwithstanding the policy prohibiting the use of electronic devices on school property, high schools and middle schools may participate in a Bring Your Device to School (BYDS) program under the sole discretion of the Superintendent beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. Under a BYDS program, personal technology devices may be used by students for instructional purposes with the permission and under the supervision of the classroom teacher. For the purposes of this policy, a personal technology device is defined as a portable Internet-accessing device designed to share information, record sounds, process words, and/or capture images, such as a laptop, tablet, smart phone, PDA, or eReader. Personal technology devices may be used on school property for educational purposes before school, at lunch, and after school only at the discretion of the school principal. If any school employee asks a student to put his or her personal technology device away at any time, the student must comply. Students participating in the BYDS program must comply with Board Policy 3040-Technology Acceptable Use Policy, the Code of Student Conduct, and any school rules regarding usage of computer or personal technology devices on school property. Use of a personal technology device on school property under a BYDS program is a privilege that may be revoked at any time.
School principals may authorize individual students to possess and/or use for personal purposes wireless communication devices if, in the opinion of the principal, there is reasonable need for such communication.
Any device possessed or used in violation of this policy shall be confiscated and only returned to the student’s parents/guardian. Penalties for violation of this policy are set at the discretion of the principal.
If a student uses a laser pointer in a way that reasonably could or does cause physical harm, the laser pointer may be considered a weapon and the student may be disciplined accordingly.
Students shall be personally and solely responsible for the security of their electronic devices or personal technology devices. The Durham Public Schools is not responsible for any electronic devices or personal technology devices that are lost, stolen or damaged while on school property or at school events.
I-10 Student Dress Code: The primary goal of the Durham Public Schools is to provide a safe learning environment where all students are able to achieve at their highest potential. The personal appearance of every student is an important component of establishing a safe environment for optimal learning and respect for one another. Students are expected to adhere to standards of dress and appearance that are compatible with an effective learning environment. In support of these goals and expectations the Board establishes the following dress code for students:
i. Students are prohibited from wearing clothing, jewelry, book bags, or other articles of personal appearance which:
a. depict profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, or violence;
b. promote use or abuse of tobacco, drugs, or alcohol;
c. may create a threat to the health or safety of the student or others;
d. are prohibited under the Gangs and Gang Activities Policy (III-8);
e. may create a significant risk of disruption to the educational process or to the operation of the school.
ii. The following specific items are also not permitted:
a. clothing worn in such a manner so as to reveal underwear, cleavage, or bare skin between the upper chest and mid-thigh;
b. bare feet, bedroom slippers;
c. spaghetti straps, strapless tops, halter tops;
d. see-through, mesh garments;
e. trousers, slacks, shorts worn below waist level;
f. clothing that is excessively baggy or tight;
g. skirts and shorts shorter than mid-thigh;
h. sunglasses worn inside school building;
i. hats, caps, hoods, sweat bands and bandannas or other head wear worn inside school building; and
j. any other article of appearance that is physically revealing or provocative.
iii. If a student's dress or appearance violates this dress code, the principal or principal's designee may require the student to change his or her dress or appearance. A second or repeated violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action. The principal may make reasonable accommodations to the policy based upon a student's religious beliefs or medical conditions.
iv. This policy does not apply to school sanctioned uniforms and costumes approved by the principal for athletic, choral or dramatic performances.
I-11 Gambling. Students shall not participate in any unauthorized games of chance in which money or other items of value may be won or lost.
I-12 Disruptive or Indecent Images, Literature or Illustrations. The possession or distribution of images, literature or illustrations that are vulgar, indecent or obscene or that significantly disrupt the educational process is prohibited.
I-13 Use of Tobacco. Students shall not possess, smoke, or use tobacco products at school, on a school bus, at any school-related activity, or on school grounds at any time.
The first violation of this policy will result in a warning to the student and conference with the student's parent/guardian or custodian in person or by telephone. Every effort should be made to hold the conference within three days of the violation. Further violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action.
I-14 Misconduct on a School Vehicle. While riding a school bus or other school vehicle, students shall observe the directives of the school bus driver. The following conduct is specifically prohibited:
a. Delaying the bus schedule;
b. Refusing to obey the driver's instructions;
c. Tampering with or willfully damaging the school vehicle;
d. Getting off at an undesignated stop;
e. Failing to observe established safety rules and regulations;
f. Willfully trespassing upon a school bus; and
g. Violating any other rule of the CODE OF STUDENT CONDUCT policy while on the school bus or other school vehicle.
See also Rule II-11, School Transportation Disturbance.
Violations of this rule may result in removal from school transportation in addition to other disciplinary consequences available under this policy.
Level II – Short-Term Suspension/Possible Long-Term Suspension with Aggravating Factors/ Possible In-School Disciplinary Consequence with Mitigating Factors
II-1 Verbal Abuse. Students may not direct toward any school employee cursing, vulgar, or abusive language.
II-2 Threat/False Threat. No student shall make any threat through written or verbal language or act which conveys a serious expression of intent to cause harm or violence. Furthermore, no student shall make a false threat of harm or violence, even in jest, which causes or is reasonably likely to cause fear or a disruption to school activities.
II-3 Bullying and Harassment. No student shall engage in bullying or harassment as defined under Board Policy 4411.
II-4 Sexual Harassment. No student shall engage in any conduct prohibited by Board Policy 4410, Sexual Harassment.
II-5 Fighting/ Physical Aggression. No student may intentionally hit, shove, scratch, bite, block the passage of, or throw objects at a student or other person. No student shall take any action or make any comments or written messages intended to cause others to fight or which might reasonably be expected to result in a fight.
A student who is attacked may use reasonable force in self-defense, but only to the extent necessary to get free from the attack and notify proper school authorities. A student who exceeds reasonable force may be disciplined even though someone else provoked the fight.
II-6 Hazing. No group or individual shall require a student to wear abnormal dress, play abusive or ridiculous tricks on him/her, frighten, scold, swear, harass or subject him/her to personal indignity.
II-7 Theft or Damage to Property. No student may steal or attempt to steal or knowingly be in possession of stolen property or intentionally damage or attempt to damage any school property or private property while under school jurisdiction.
II-8 Arson. Starting a fire or attempting to start a fire on school property is prohibited unless specifically authorized by school officials.
II-9 False Fire Alarms. No student shall set off, attempt to set off, or aid and abet anyone in setting off a fire alarm at school.
II-10 Trespassing. No student may be on the campus of another school in the Durham Public Schools during the school day without the knowledge and consent of the officials of the school she/he is visiting. Students who remain after school or come on any school campus after the school day or while school is closed without permission will be considered trespassers.
Any student who has been suspended from school shall be considered trespassing if she/he appears on any school property during the suspension period without the express permission of the principal.
II-11 School Transportation Disturbance. Any physical or verbal disturbance which occurs on a school transportation vehicle and which interrupts or interferes with the safe and orderly operation of the vehicle is prohibited. Violations of this rule may result in removal from school transportation in addition to other disciplinary consequences available under this policy.
II-12 Misuse of Technology. Individual users of school-provided Internet service and technology devices (on school property and/or through the Learning Environment Extension Program) or users of personal technology devices on school property pursuant to a Bring Your Device to School program are expected to abide by Durham Public Schools Policy 3040, Technology Acceptable Use. In addition to the provisions of that policy, the following are specifically prohibited:
- i. Sending or displaying offensive, vulgar, crude, or threatening messages or pictures;
- ii. Using obscene language;
- iii. Harassing, insulting or attacking others;
- iv. Damaging computers, computer systems, software, or computer networks;
- v. Violating copyright laws;
- vi. Using another's ID/password;
- vii. Illegal use of data in folders or work files;
- Intentionally wasting limited resources. This includes distributing mass e-mail messages, creating and participating in unauthorized news groups, and storing files on file servers without proper authorization.
- ix. Employing the network for commercial purposes.
In the event a student engages in any of the above-referenced activities, his/her access privileges will be revoked and other disciplinary measures may result. Users who engage in criminal activity using district-owned computer resources or accessing the school network or the Internet on school property are subject to applicable state and federal criminal laws.
Level III – Long-Term Suspension/Possible Short-Term Suspension with Mitigating Factors
III-1 Assault on School Personnel. No student may cause or attempt to cause physical injury to any school employee.
III-2 Assault on Another Student. No student may cause or attempt to cause serious physical injury to another student.
III-3 Coercion or Extortion. No student may use force or violence or threat of force or violence to obtain money, property, or personal services from another student.
III-4 Weapons and Dangerous Instruments. No student shall possess, handle, or transmit any weapon or dangerous instrument at school or school events. No student shall possess, handle, or transmit any weapon or dangerous instrument at any other time when such conduct has a direct impact on school order or safety. Examples of weapons include, but are not limited to, any loaded or unloaded firearm, including a gun, pistol, or rifle; knives of any kind regardless of size; fireworks; BB guns or air guns; pepper spray; electric shock devices; box cutters or any sharp pointed or edged instrument except unaltered nail files and clips or tools used solely in instruction. Facsimiles of a gun or other weapon also are prohibited. This policy also shall apply to any item that is actually used or possessed in the same manner as a weapon. Gunpowder and ammunition for firearms are weapons for the purposes of this policy.
Refer to Level IV for violations involving firearms or destructive devices.
A student who in any way encourages another student to bring weapons to school also endangers the safety of others. No student shall knowingly or willfully cause, encourage, or aid any other student to possess, handle, or transmit any of the weapons or facsimiles of weapons listed above. This section shall not apply to students who are members of the Reserve Officer Training Corps and who are required to carry arms or weapons in the discharge of their official class duties; nor does this section apply to weapons used in school-approved instruction or ceremonies. The principal must give prior approval for these exceptions to apply.
III-5 Bomb Threats. No student shall make or aid and abet anyone in making a false report concerning the existence of a bomb or any other dangerous object on school premises or at the site of school activities. No student shall with the intent to perpetrate a hoax conceal, place or display on school property or the site of school activities any device or artifact so as to cause any person reasonably to believe the same to be a bomb or other destructive device.
III-6 Controlled Substances and Drug Paraphernalia. No student shall possess, use, transmit, conspire to transmit, or be under the influence of any narcotic drug, hallucinogenic drug, amphetamine, barbiturate, marijuana, anabolic steroids or any other controlled substance, or any alcoholic beverage, malt beverage, or fortified wine or other intoxicating liquor, or possess, use or transmit drug paraphernalia or counterfeit drug, or inhale or ingest any chemicals or products with the intention of bringing about a state of exhilaration or euphoria or of otherwise altering the student's mood or behavior.
No student shall be at school with the odor of alcohol or illicit drugs about their person.
The proper use of a drug authorized by valid medical prescription from a legally authorized health care provider shall not be considered a violation of this rule when the drug is taken by the person for whom the drug was prescribed and in the manner in which the drug was prescribed.
When a first infraction of this policy involves only possession, use, and/or being under the influence of a substance prohibited by this policy, an alternative to long-term suspension shall be offered. Failure to meet any requirements of the alternative program reactivates the long-term suspension recommendation.
III-7. Threats, Hoaxes, and Other Acts of Terror.
a. No student shall make a report that he or she knows or should know is false, that any device, substance, or material designed to cause harmful or life-threatening illness or injury to another person, is located on school property or at the site of a school activity.
b. No student shall, with the intent to perpetrate a hoax, conceal, place, disseminate or display on school property or at the site of a school activity any device, machine, instrument, artifact, letter, package, material, or substance, so as to cause a reasonable person to believe the same to be a substance or material capable of causing harmful or life-threatening illness or injury to another person.
c. No student shall threaten to commit an act of terror on school property or at the site of a school activity that is designed to cause, or is likely to cause, serious injury or death to another person, when the threat is intended to cause, or actually causes, a significant disruption to the instructional day or a school-sponsored activity.
d. No student shall make a report that he or she knows or should know is false, that an act of terror designed to cause, or likely to cause, serious injury or death to another person on school property or at the site of a school-sponsored activity is imminent, when that report is intended to cause, or actually cause, a significant disruption to the instructional day or a school-sponsored activity.
e. No student shall aid, abet, and/or conspire to commit any of the acts described in this section.
III-8 Gangs and Gang Activities. The Board of Education believes that gangs and gang-related activities pose a serious safety threat to students and staff members of the Durham Public Schools. Even absent acts of violence, gang-related activities disrupt the educational environment and increase the risks of future violence. In light of these serious concerns, the school system will not tolerate any gang-related activities as outlined in this policy.
No student shall commit any act which furthers gangs or gang-related activities. A gang is any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, having as one of its primary activities the commission of criminal acts and having a common name or common identifying sign, colors, or symbols. As used herein, the phrase “gang-related” shall mean any conduct engaged in by a student (1) on behalf of an identified gang, (2) to perpetuate the existence of any identified gang, or (3) to effect the common purpose and design of any identified gang. Conduct prohibited by this policy includes:
i. Wearing, possessing, using, distributing, displaying, or selling any clothing, jewelry, emblems, badges, symbols, signs or other items with the intent to convey or promote membership or affiliation in any gang;
ii. Communicating either verbally or non-verbally (gestures, handshakes, slogans, drawings, etc.), with the intent to convey or promote membership or affiliation in a gang;
iii. Tagging, or otherwise defacing school or personal property with symbols or slogans intended to convey or promote membership or affiliation in any gang;
iv. Requiring payment of protection, insurance, or otherwise intimidating or threatening any person related to gang activity;
v. Inciting other students to intimidate or to act with physical violence upon any other person related to gang activity;
vi. Soliciting others for gang membership;
vii. Committing any other illegal act or other violation of school district policies in connection with gang-related activity.
The Superintendent or his/her designee shall regularly consult with law enforcement officials to maintain current examples of gang-related activities, including but not limited to gang names and particularized examples of potential gang indicators including symbols, hand signals, graffiti, clothing/accessories, and behaviors.
Each principal shall maintain current examples of gang-related activities in the main office of the school. In addition, guides shall be included in each main school office to assist students, parents, and teachers in identifying gang symbols and practices. In providing this information for students and parents, the Board acknowledges that not all potential gang indicators connote actual membership in a gang.
This policy shall be applied in a non-discriminatory manner based on the objective characteristics of the student’s conduct in light of the surrounding circumstances.
Before being suspended for a first offense of wearing gang-related attire, a student will receive an individualized warning and will be allowed to immediately change or remove the attire that is in violation of this policy. Unless the student has been specifically notified of a prohibited item of attire, a student will receive this warning the first time he or she is observed wearing a particular item in violation of this policy.
In a situation where a student has violated this policy or is otherwise suspected of gang affiliation through other circumstantial evidence, the principal shall conduct an intervention involving the principal/assistant principal, the student and the student’s parent or legal guardian. Such intervention may also include the school resource officer and others as appropriate. The purpose of such intervention is to discuss the school’s observations and concerns and to offer the student and the parents information and an opportunity to ask questions or provide other information.
Level IV – Suspensions Required under State Law
IV-1 Firearms/Destructive Devices.
No student shall bring onto school property or possess a firearm or destructive device. A firearm is any weapon, including a starter gun, which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive, the frame or receiver of any such weapon, or any firearm muffler or firearm silencer. The definition of firearm under this rule does not include an inoperable antique firearm, a BB gun, stun gun, air rifle, or air pistol.
A destructive device is an explosive, incendiary, or poison gas bomb, grenade, rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces, missile having an explosive or incendiary charge or more than one-quarter ounce, mine, or similar device.
A student shall not be found in violation of this policy if it is determined that the student took or received the firearm or destructive device from another person at school or found the firearm or destructive device at school, provided that the student delivered or reported the firearm or destructive device as soon as practicable to a law enforcement officer or a school employee and had no intent to use such firearm or destructive device in a harmful or threatening way.
Violation of this Rule will result in a recommendation for 365-day suspension.
Level V -- Expulsion
A student fourteen (14) years of age or older may be expelled for a violation of this Code of Conduct if the Board determines the student’s behavior indicates that the student’s continued presence in the school constitutes a clear threat to the safety of other students or employees, and that there is no appropriate alternative educational program. Additionally, any student who is a registered sex offender under N.C. General Statutes 14-208 may be expelled.
Cross Reference: Sexual Harassment Policy, Bullying/Harassment Policy, Suspension and Expulsion Policy, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Policy, Internet Acceptable Use Policy
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Legal Reference: G.S. 115C-288, -391
Adopted: August 12, 1992
Revised Effective: September 27, 1995
Revised Effective: July 1, 1999
Revised Effective: February 24, 2000
Revised Effective: June 7, 2001
Revised Effective: September 13, 2001
Revised Effective: December 13, 2001
Revised Effective: September 12, 2002
Revised Effective: July 1, 2003
Revised Effective: January 24, 2008 (Rule 4(i))
Revised Effective: March 27, 2008 (Rule 10)
Revised Effective: February 24, 2011 (Rule 10)
Revised Effective: July 12, 2011
Revised Effective December 20, 2012 (Rule I.9 and II.12)