Laws Related to Student Discipline & Disabled Students
LPC Faculty, staff, and administrators need to be aware of their own rights as well as legal responsibilities in dealing with concerning student behavior. It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain a safe and uninterrupted learning environment.
The following principles, derived from law and policy, are important to note in using disciplinary action with disruptive student behavior:
- California residents have a fundamental right to education from elementary through secondary school; however, they do not have a fundamental right to attend a post-secondary institution. Community colleges are required to admit only those students who can benefit from instruction.
- Federal and state laws prevent discrimination based on disability, which means that students with physical or mental disabilities cannot be held to different standards. The existence of a disability diagnosis is not sufficient grounds to exclude someone from college. Likewise, students may not be excluded from college based on the anticipation or predication of inappropriate behavior.
- Behavior, not diagnosis, is the standard to be used regarding inclusion or exclusion of students. The following laws are relevant to disruptive student behavior:
Laws Protecting the Student
There are numerous civil rights laws protecting individuals with disabilities in the United States. Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act, are directly relevant to us at LPC. The short and direct version of our responsibility comes from Title II of the ADA:
No qualified individual with a disability shall be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity.
Post secondary institutions must take steps to ensure that students with disabilities are not excluded from programs because of the absence of education auxiliary aids or modifications to make the programs and materials accessible.
The laws pertaining to disciplining community college students for “willfully disrupting the orderly operation of the campus” is covered in several Education Codes:
- The Board of Trustees is required to adopt rules governing student behavior (Ed. Code, Section 66300).
- The Chief Administrative Officer has the authority to take disciplinary action against a student found guilty of willfully disrupting the campus by the college body (Ed. Code, Section 66017).
- Disciplinary action may include but need not be limited to, suspension, dismissal or expulsion.
- Authority is also given for immediate interim suspension of the student pending a hearing which should be held within 10 days.
- Instructors have the authority to suspend a student (Ed. Code, Section 76031).
- The governing board has the authority to expel a student (Ed. Code, Section 76031).
- A student can only be disciplined for conduct related to college activity or attendance (Ed. Code, Section 76035).
- The only reason for suspension or expulsion of a student is for “good cause”, which is to be determined by a hearing of the college body (Ed. Code, Sections 76032 and 76033).
- “Good cause” includes but is not limited to the following offenses: continued willful disobedience, persistent abuse of profanity or vulgarity, open and persistent defiance of the authority of, or any threat of force or violence upon a student or college personnel, willful misconduct which results in injury, or damage to personal property owned by the district; use, sale, possession or under the influence of narcotics, hallucinogenic drugs or substances or any poison classified as such by schedule D, section 4160 of the Business and Professions Code; willful or persistent smoking in prohibited areas; and persistent serious misconduct where other means of correction have failed to bring about proper conduct (Ed. Code, Section 76034).
- Whenever a minor is suspended the parents or legal guardians must be notified in writing by the chief administrative officer. When instructors suspend a student who is a minor, they must request a parent conference as soon as possible (Ed. Code, Section 76036).
- Employees of the community college district are required to report to law enforcement authorities whenever any employee is attacked, assaulted, or menaced by a student (Ed. Code, Section 87014).
- California Penal Code, sections 626.4 and 626.6, allows the chief administrative officer or designee (District Police Officer) to withdraw consent for an individual to remain on District properties. The disruption must be material and substantial.
- California Mental Health Service Act, section 5150 (Welfare and Institutions code) states that a person who is a danger to him/her self or others, or is gravely disabled may be taken against his/her will by a peace officer to a designated mental health facility for evaluation.
In summary, the sole basis for imposing disciplinary sanctions on a student is the student’s behavior, not whether the student has a disability. Where the disruptive behavior of the student has been properly documented, the law allows, and, in some situations, mandates that action be taken.
For more information about LPC’s Discipline Procedures, please see the Student Conduct and Due Process