The Bellingham Public Schools makes a collective commitment to empower every child to discover and develop their passions, contribute to their community and achieve a fulling and productive life. The district holds high expectations for all students and gives all students the opportunity to achieve personal and academic success. “Discipline” means any action taken by the school district in response to behavioral violations, including exclusionary as well as positive and supportive forms of discipline. This policy and procedure is intended to be implemented in a manner that supports positive school climate, maximizes instructional time, and increases equitable educational opportunities.
The purposes of this policy and accompanying procedure include:
A. Engaging with school personnel, students, parents, families and the community in decisions related to the development and implementation of discipline policies and procedures.
B. Supporting students in meeting behavioral expectations, including providing for early involvement of parents and families.
C. Administering discipline in ways that respond to the needs and strengths of students and keep students in the classroom to the maximum extent possible.
D. Providing educational services that students need to complete their education without disruption.
E. Facilitating collaboration between school personnel, students, parents and families to support successful reentry into the classroom following a suspension or expulsion.
F. Ensuring fairness, equity and due process in the administration of discipline.
G. Implementing culturally responsive discipline that provides every student the opportunity to achieve personal and academic success.
H. Providing a safe environment for all students and for district employees.
Rights and Responsibilities/District Commitment
Our district recognizes the negative and disproportionate impact of exclusionary discipline practices and is committed to:
A. Identifying and addressing discipline policies and practices that perpetuate educational opportunity gaps.
B. Proactively implementing discipline practices that support students in meeting behavioral expectations without losing access to instruction.
C. Living the collective commitment to ensure our students achieve the vision, mission, core beliefs and outcomes in The Bellingham Promise.
The district will observe students’ fundamental rights and will administer discipline in a manner that does not:
A. Unlawfully discriminate against a student on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal.
B. Deprive a student of the student’s constitutional right to freedom of speech and press, the constitutional right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government and its representatives for a redress of grievances, the constitutional right to the free exercise of religion and to have the student’s school free from sectarian control or influence, subject to reasonable limitations upon the time, place, and manner of exercising the right;
C. Deprive a student of the student’s constitutional right to be secure in the student’s person, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
D. Unlawfully interfere in a student’s pursuit of an education while in the care of the school district; or
E. Deprive a student of the student’s right to an equal educational opportunity, in whole or in part, by a school district without due process of law.
Our student discipline policy and procedure are designed to provide students with a safe, healthy, and educationally sound environment. Students are expected to be aware of and comply with this policy and procedure, including behavioral expectations that respect the rights, person, and property of others. Students are also expected to pursue the required course of studies. Students and staff are expected to work together to develop a positive climate for learning,
Development and Review
The district will collect data on disciplinary actions administered in each school, as required by RCW 28A.300.042, and any additional data required under other district policies and procedures.
The district will ensure that school principals confer with certificated building employees as appropriate to develop and/or review building discipline standards and review the fidelity of implementation of those standards.
The district will:
A. Establish behavioral expectations for students and proactively teach expectations across various school settings.
B. Develop precise definitions for problem behaviors and behavioral violations to address differences in perceptions of subjective behaviors and reduce the effect of implicit bias.
C. Define the differences between minor and major behavior incidents to clarify the types of behaviors that may or may not result in classroom exclusion or are severe enough that an administrator needs to be involved.
D. Identify a continuum of best practices and strategies for classroom-based responses that building staff should administer before or instead of classroom exclusion to support students in meeting behavioral expectations.
The district handbook, codes of conduct and discipline standards used by school leaders must not conflict with this policy, accompanying procedures or other board policies.
School principals will ensure teachers and other school personnel receive adequate support to effectively implement a continuum of identified best practices and strategies that:
A. Focus on prevention to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline practices.
B. Allow the exercise of professional judgment and skill sets; and
C. May be adapted to individual student needs in a culturally responsive manner.
School principals will confer with certificated building employees at least annually to establish criteria for when certificated employees must complete professional development to support classroom management skills.
The district will periodically review and further develop this policy and procedure with the participation of school personnel, students, parents, families and the community. As part of this development and review process, the district will use disaggregated data collected under RCW 28A.300.042. This process may include reviewing data to prevent and address discrimination against students in protected classes identified in chapters 28A.640 and 28A.642 RCW, however the district will ensure it reviews disaggregated discipline data in accordance with WAC 392.190.048 at least annually.
Distribution of Policies and Procedures
The district will make the current version of this policy and procedure available to families and the community. The district will annually provide this policy and procedure to all district personnel, students, parents, and families, which may require language assistance for students and parents with limited-English proficiency under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The district will ensure employees and contractors are knowledgeable of the student discipline policy and procedure. Schools will annually provide the current building discipline standards, developed as stated above, to all school personnel, students, parents and families, which may require language assistance for students and parents with limited-English proficiency under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Schools will ensure all personnel are knowledgeable of the school building discipline standards. Schools are encouraged to provide discipline training developed under RCW 28A.415.410 to support implementation of this policy and procedure to all staff as feasible.
This policy and accompanying procedure will be construed in a manner consistent with Washington law as stated in WAC 392-400-020.