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Policy 9020 - Students’ Rights and Responsibilities

This policy provides a summary and overview of the legal rights and responsibilities of students enrolled in the HCPSS when on school property, when at a school-related activity, and when subject to the authority of the HCPSS.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County recognizes that the Howard County Public School System’s (HCPSS) policies and procedures identify many student rights and accompanying responsibilities. The Board also believes students must be provided the opportunity to excel in a safe and supportive environment that inspires and engages every student to discover and reach their full potential.

Students may exercise their rights and responsibilities as long as they do not interfere with the rights of others or a school’s ability to provide a safe and supportive environment. Additionally, students are responsible for making decisions with integrity, exercising civility, and assuring their actions are aligned with the HCPSS Student Code of Conduct.

II. Purpose

This policy provides a summary and overview of the legal rights and responsibilities of students enrolled in the HCPSS when on school property, when at a school-related activity, and when subject to the authority of the HCPSS.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Confidential – Information that is private, not intended to be shared with others unless they have a legitimate educational interest.

  2. Confidentiality – The obligation of the school system official not to disclose or transmit information to unauthorized parties.

  3. Grievance – A formal expression of a complaint.

  4. Legitimate Educational Interest – The need for a school official to review the record in order to conduct his or her professional responsibilities.

  5. Parent – Any one of the following, recognized as the adults(s) legally responsible for the student:

    1. Biological Parent – A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive Parent – A person who has legally adopted the student and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian – A person or an agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    4. Guardian – A person who has been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    5. Caregiver – An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody, or control over the student but who is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian as long as the person satisfies the requirements of the Education Article, §7-101 (c) (Informal Kinship Care).

    6. Foster Parent – An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in their home by a state agency or a licensed child placement agency as provided by the Family Law Article, §5-507.

  6. Responsibility – An expectation regarding the exercise of individual rights and the acceptance of consequences for actions taken.

  7. Right – An expectation regarding the application of rules and procedures within the HCPSS to an individual.

  8. School Official – A person employed by HCPSS; a person serving on the school board; a person or company with whom the HCPSS has contracted to serve in a legitimate educational interest or as specifically permitted under FERPA (such as an attorney, auditor, school resource officer, medical consultant, therapist or a Howard County Health Department substance abuse counselor).

  9. School Property – Any property owned or leased by the HCPSS for school-related activities. The concept of property extends to school activities such as field trips, use of recreation and parks facilities, proms at hotels, etc. Bus stops and facilities scheduled by the school system for student use are considered an extension of school property.

  10. School-Related Activity – Any school system activity, whether held on or off school property, in which a student directly participates (e.g., school field trip, athletic event, or class/graduation activity) or in which the student does not directly participate but represents the school or student body simply by being there (e.g., spectator at a school event).

  11. School-Sponsored – Taking place with the knowledge and approval of school-based administration and including the promotion, leadership, and/or participation of school employees. The assignment of a teacher, administrator, or other school employee to a meeting for custodial purposes does not constitute sponsorship of the meeting.

  12. Student Record – Document(s) directly related to a student and maintained by the HCPSS.

IV. Standards

  1. Attendance

    1. Students have the following rights:

      1. The State of Maryland has obligated itself to provide a system of free public schools (Maryland Constitution, Article VIII, §1-3). All Maryland residents 5 years old or older and under age 21 will be admitted free of charge to the public schools. (Education Article §7-101)

      2. Under Federal Law (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, [IDEA], 20, U.S.C. §1400, et seq.) HCPSS, as a recipient of federal funds that operates a public elementary or secondary education program or activity, will provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to each qualified disabled student who is in the recipient’s jurisdiction.

    2. Students have the following responsibilities:

      Students enrolled in the HCPSS are required to be in school or to be participating in a school activity each day school is in session. Students are required to comply with the standards, policies, and procedures adopted by the Board of Education and the School System, including, but not limited to, the standards contained in Policy 9010 - Attendance, Policy 9000 - Student Residency, Eligibility, Enrollment and Assignment, and Policy 9030 - School-Sponsored Publications and Productions.

  2. Safe and Supportive Environment

    1. Students have the following rights:

      Students have the right to learn in a safe and supportive environment that fosters hope, engagement, and well-being for all. Students' rights will always be considered within the broader framework of the legal rights and responsibilities retained by others.

    2. Students have the following responsibilities:

      1. Students are responsible for their own learning, their personal conduct, the manner in which they exercise their rights in accordance with HCPSS policies and the HCPSS Student Code of Conduct, and are responsible for accepting the consequences of their actions.

      2. Students are responsible for making appropriate use of instructional and related services available to them.

  3. Non-Discriminatory Practices

    1. Students have the following rights:

      1. Students have the right to be free from discrimination, bullying, harassment, intimidation, sexual harassment, and hate/bias based on race, color, national origin, religious beliefs, political opinion, disability, age, gender, appearance, marital status, sexual orientation, or family status.

      2. The Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 prohibits discrimination in educational opportunities on the basis of race, color, gender, or national origin.

    2. Students have the following responsibilities:

      1. Students share responsibility for the social and emotional safety and well-being of others in an environment free from discrimination, bullying, harassment, intimidation, sexual harassment, and hate/bias.

      2. Students have the responsibility to report any of the following to a school official: acts of discrimination, bullying, harassment, intimidation, sexual harassment, or hate/bias based on race, color, national origin, religious beliefs, political opinion, disability, age, gender, appearance, marital status, sexual orientation, or family status.

  4. Student Expression

    1. Students have the following rights:

      The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides protections regarding the freedom of speech and religion, the right to assemble peaceably, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The protections of the First Amendment apply to public school students, but not to the same extent that those protections apply to adults in a non-school setting. The First Amendment rights of students are subject to restrictions based on the unique circumstances of the school environment. Certain types of speech and behavior are considered so disruptive that they may be prohibited outright, as specified in The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §26-101.

      1. School-Sponsored Publications

        The right to written communication by students in school-sponsored publications is subject to the restrictions of school officials as long as the official’s actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns. (Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 1988, Policy 9030 - School-Sponsored Publications and Productions)

      2. Distribution of Literature

        The right to circulate literature carries with it an equal responsibility to respect the orderly operation of the school. School authorities may restrict the time, place, and manner of such activities, and may require advance notice when necessary to avoid conflicts and to ensure proper protection of the school community. (Policy 10010 - Distribution and Display of Materials and Announcements)

      3. Assembly

        Schools may set reasonable limits as to the time, place, and manner in which students and student groups may assemble, as long as those restrictions advance legitimate educational goals.

      4. Symbolic Expression

        Students may display symbolic forms of expression (such as buttons and armbands) as long as the display does not materially or substantially disrupt school activities or the orderly operation of the school. (Policy 9210 - Student Dress Code)

      5. Dress and Appearance

        While school personnel may advise students about appropriate dress and appearance, public schools may not regulate the dress and/or the appearance of students, unless the dress and/or appearance is unsafe or interferes with the school environment. (Policy 9210 - Student Dress Code)

      6. Patriotic Exercises

        Maryland law requires that at the beginning of each school day, all students and teachers in charge will stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. However, students or teachers who wish to be excused from reciting the Pledge will be excused from doing so. (The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §7-105(d))

      7. Religion

        Students have the right to pray in a non-disruptive manner when not engaged in instruction or school activities and they have additional rights with respect to religious expression. (Policy 3000 - Religious Observances)

    2. Students have the following responsibilities:

      1. Students are responsible for controlling their conduct while exercising their rights to expression in such a way that this expression does not infringe upon the rights of others or interfere with the school environment or school procedures.

      2. Students will recognize the rights of others to have individual views which may differ from their own.

  5. Student Activities and Use of School Facilities

    1. Students have the following rights:

      1. High school students may participate in extracurricular activities, including interscholastic athletics, as long as they are eligible for participation and have no disciplinary infractions or policy violations which would restrict their participation. (Policy 9070 - Academic Eligibility for High School Extracurricular Activities)

      2. Students have the right to form organizations within the school through which they may communicate their interests, ideas, and suggestions to other students and to the school administration. In particular, students have the right to form student government associations (student governance) and provide representation to the school board. (Policy 2010 - Student Representation)

      3. Students have the right to form and/or participate in both school-sponsored and non school-sponsored organizations and clubs.

      4. School-sponsored student organizations and clubs may conduct activities on school property upon the authorization of school officials and subject to the procedures and schedules established by school administrators.

      5. Non school-sponsored student organizations and clubs may, under the federal Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. §4071, conduct meetings on school property during non-instructional time provided that:

        1. Such meetings are voluntary, student-initiated, and not represented or treated as school-sponsored organizations or clubs.

        2. There is no sponsorship or promotion of the meetings by the school or by school system employees.

        3. No employee of the HCPSS leads or participates in such meetings; however, a school system employee must be present during meetings to provide supervision unless such meetings are held under the guidelines of Policy 10020 - Use of School Facilities.

        4. Employees of the school system are present at religious meetings only in a non-participatory capacity.

        5. The meetings do not and cannot reasonably be predicted to materially or substantially interfere with the orderly conduct of educational activities within the school.

        6. Non-school persons do not direct, conduct, control, or regularly attend such meetings.

        7. No public funds are expended beyond the incidental costs of providing space for the meetings.

      6. As members of the community, students have additional rights to the use of school property for non-school purposes, including civic, educational, social, and recreational programs and meetings of political organizations and religious groups under guidelines established for such use by the school system. Organized youth programs and activities are granted certain priorities under those guidelines. (Policy 10020 - Use of School Facilities)

      7. The right of student organizations to meet on school property is subject to the condition that such organizations must be open to all students qualified to fill the objectives of those organizations.

        Any secret or exclusive organization which takes in members from among the students enrolled in the public school, and in which membership is determined by the members, rather than from the free choice of any students in the school who are qualified to fill the special aims of the organization, will be prohibited from conducting its activities in public school buildings or on public school grounds. (COMAR 13A.08.01.09)

    2. Students have the following responsibilities:

      1. Students are responsible for availing themselves of the opportunity to become involved in school affairs through student government associations.

      2. Students have the responsibility of ensuring that their organizations' activities are open to all students.

      3. Students participating in student organizations are responsible for appropriate care of school property and materials they use.

      4. Students are responsible for using school facilities safely, responsibly, and in accordance with school system guidelines and procedures.

      5. Students are responsible for notifying school officials when they observe acts of vandalism.

  6. Student Records

    1. Students have the following rights:

      1. Students and their parents have the right to inspect and review the student’s records and for those records to be kept confidential.

      2. Students and their parents will be notified annually of their rights regarding the inspection, review, amendment, and disclosure of student records as well as the right to file complaints related to these rights with the U.S. Department of Education, pursuant to the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C., §1232g. (Policy 9050 - Student Records)

      3. Students with disabilities and their parents have additional rights with respect to the collection of information for school records, and access to and disclosure of such information as provided in FERPA and IDEA 2004. (Policy 9050 - Student Records)

    2. Students have the following responsibility:

      Students are responsible for accuracy when providing information.

  7. Grievances and Appeals

    1. Students have the following right:

      Students have the right to a response from the school-based administration regarding inquiries, concerns or complaints within three (3) school days.

    2. Students have the following responsibility:

      Students are responsible for submitting a grievance or for having their parent act on their behalf in requesting an appeal in a timely and appropriate manner, not to exceed thirty (30) calendar days from the date of the event, unless extraordinary circumstances require a longer period of time. Further appeals shall be submitted pursuant to appropriate Maryland law. In the event the grievance or appeal arises under circumstances governed by a federal or state law or regulation, the process set forth therein must be followed.

  8. Disciplinary Action

    1. Students have the following rights:

      1. Students have the right to be provided written communication of disciplinary procedures and implementation of disciplinary actions, pursuant to Maryland law. (Policy 9200 - Student Discipline)

      2. Students will be accorded due process when discipline is administered. Due process includes:

        1. Notifying the student of the allegations.

        2. Providing an explanation of the evidence if the student denies the allegations.

        3. Allowing the student an opportunity to respond to the allegations. (Students will be encouraged to provide a written response).

        4. Notifying the parent(s) promptly in writing of the violation and disciplinary consequence when the behavior warrants reallocation of the student’s time (such as formal detention or Saturday School), exclusion, or suspension. (Policy 9200 - Student Discipline)

      3. In addition, when applying disciplinary measures to students with disabilities:

        1. Provisions for determination of whether the conduct was a manifestation of the student’s disability and for interim alternative educational settings consistent with federal and State laws and regulations are required.

        2. Students with disabilities and their parents have due process safeguards that require notice to and consent of parents before decisions are made regarding change of educational placement. (Education Article §8-413, COMAR 13A.05.01.08, COMAR 13A.08.01.11, COMAR 13A.08.03, IDEA 2004)

    2. Students have the following responsibilities:

      1. Students are responsible for complying with established school rules and procedures, and for exhibiting the expected behaviors delineated in the HCPSS Student Code of Conduct and other appropriate policies.

      2. Students are responsible for requesting appeals or for having their parent act on their behalf in requesting appeals in a timely and appropriate manner, not to exceed thirty (30) calendar days from the day the discipline is administered.

  9. Search and Seizure

    1. Students have the following right:

      Students are protected against unreasonable search and seizure by school officials by the Fourth Amendment of the United States (U.S.) Constitution, but not to the same extent as adults in a non-school setting. In order to provide a safe and secure school environment, the HCPSS reserves its established rights under the U.S. Constitution and other applicable laws to conduct reasonable searches of students and their possessions, and has established uniform procedures for the administration of student searches which must be followed. (Policy 9060 - Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Compliance: Section 504)

    2. Students have the following responsibilities:

      1. Students have the responsibility, while on school property, not to be in possession of any items that are prohibited under the law or HCPSS policy.

      2. Students have the responsibility to cooperate with school officials who conduct reasonable searches and seizures under the guidelines established by state and federal law and HCPSS policy.

      3. Students have the responsibility to cooperate with police officers engaged in lawful searches and seizures on school property and during school-related activities under the guidelines established in state and federal laws.

  10. Arrests and Questioning

    1. Students have the following rights:

      1. Arrests for Crimes Committed Unrelated to School Activities

        1. Whenever possible and appropriate the arrest of a student will be made away from school premises and after school hours. If it is necessary to arrest a student during school hours, school officials will ascertain the facts surrounding the arrest and will make every effort to inform the student’s parent immediately, to fully advise them of the nature of the charge, the identity of the arresting officer, and the location of the student. (COMAR 13A.08.01.12)

        2. An arrest on school premises will be accomplished in a manner that minimizes embarrassment to the arrested student and avoids jeopardizing the safety and welfare of other persons. (COMAR 13A.08.01.12)

      2. Questioning

        During a police investigation, students will not be questioned on school premises unless the questioning concerns a crime committed on the premises or unless the failure to question the student immediately would compromise the success of the investigation or endanger the safety of students or other persons. A school official will be present during the questioning of a student on school premises and will promptly advise the student’s parent of the nature of the investigation. In the absence of an arrest, a student may not be removed from school premises for questioning without the consent of the child’s parent. (COMAR 13A.08.01.13)

      3. The above restrictions do not apply in investigations of suspected child abuse or neglect, as specific provisions apply in these circumstances. (Policy 1030 - Child Abuse and Neglect)

    2. Students have the following responsibility:

      Students are responsible for cooperating with police officers engaged in lawful questioning and arrests on school property under the guidelines established in state and federal laws.

  11. This policy will be disseminated to all members of the school community including students, teachers, administrators, parents, Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), school advisory committees and other volunteers during the first quarter of each school year or as needed.

  12. This policy will be formally presented and explained to all students during the first quarter of the school year and to all new students upon enrollment.

V. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/Designee will disseminate this policy.

  2. Principals will ensure that the policy is formally presented and explained to students.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop appropriate procedures for the implementation of this policy.

VII. References

  • United States Constitution as Amended

  • Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. §4071

  • Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974

  • Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C., §1232g

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1400

  • Maryland Constitution, Article VIII, Education

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Section 7-101 (Admission of Students)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Section 7-101 (c) (Informal Kinship Care)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article Section 7-105 (c-d) (Patriotic Exercises)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article Section 7-306 (Corporal Punishment)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Section 7-424 (Safe Schools Reporting Act of 2005)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Section 8-413 (Children with Disabilities – Due Process)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Section 26-101 (Disturbing Activities at School)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Criminal Law Article, Section 10-301 (Hate Crimes)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Family Law Article, Section 5-507

  • COMAR 13A.05.01.08, Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team Responsibilities

  • COMAR 13A.08.03, Discipline of Students with Disabilities

  • COMAR 13A.08.01.09, Student Organization

  • COMAR 13A.08.01.10, Guidelines For Students' Responsibilities & Rights

  • COMAR 13A.08.01.11, Disciplinary Action

  • COMAR 13A.08.01.12, Arrests on School Premises

  • COMAR 13A.08.01.13, Questioning on School Premises

B. Other Board Policies

C. Relevant Data Sources

D. Other

VIII. History

ADOPTED: March 11, 1975

REVIEWED:

MODIFIED: December 13, 2007, January 10, 2008

REVISED: May 22, 1979, June 25, 1987, May 11, 1995, June 8, 2006, February 20, 2014

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2014