In an attempt to deal with poor adherence to classroom rules, teachers in primary and elementary schools often use after-school detentions to implement relatively mild but effective punishments. Considering the concepts of due process and students’ rights, the practice of making misbehaving students spend extra time in school does not need to be preceded by due process. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that nobody should be deprived of liberty, possessions, or life without due process of law (Dryden & Cohen, 2017; The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, n.d.; “The Bill of Rights,” 2007). With that in mind, due process is absolutely necessary when it comes to actions with severe consequences for students, such as violations of the right to education, privacy, and equal treatment.
Due process is not required since after-school detention is a minor punishment that does not violate a child’s legal rights. After-school detentions resulting from violations of schools’ internal policies and rules do not promote inequality and discrimination. Basically, before participating in the educational process, all students are informed about classroom rules, expected behaviors, and sanctions for ignoring the established rules. Therefore, generally speaking, students are equal in terms of their opportunity to avoid after-school detentions.
More than that, the need for due process before disciplinary punishments usually applies to cases in which false accusations may deprive the child of his or her right to attend a school, but after-school detentions do not have such consequences. For example, the abovementioned constitutional amendment protects school students from being searched or suspended from classes without adequate reason, but there are no similar rules for after-school detentions (The ACLU of Arizona, n.d.; Justia, n.d.). In Goss V. Lopez (1975), the long-term suspension from classes without prior hearings was regarded as the violation of students’ right to public education. In contrast to suspensions, by definition, after-school detentions do not limit children’s right to education since they take place outside of school hours. Additionally, instead of losing their opportunity to attend classes, students are typically encouraged to devote after-school detention time to homework or extra assignments. According to Ingraham v. Wright (1977), notices and hearings are not required prior to using corporal punishments. Even corporal punishment, in spite of its potentially harmful consequences for students, is sometimes regarded as a constitutional practice. Considering this, after-school detentions that are actually harmless can be implemented without due process, such as hearings.
In summary, in the field of education, the concept of due process is inextricably connected with students’ rights, including the right to get an education. Although they cause students’ discontent, after-school detentions do not limit or violate this right in any meaningful way and do not expose students to significant risks if compared to other disciplinary consequences. With that in mind, no due process, such as fair hearings, is required prior to implementing this form of punishment.
Suspensions in School
The first aspect that a school must take into account to suspend a disability student is presented by connections between this student’s inappropriate behaviors and the essential manifestations of his or her disability. Basically, decisions regarding suspension from school cannot be made without thorough assessments since disciplinary actions for something that the child cannot control due to disability are legally and morally inappropriate (Zirkel, 2017). Prior to implementing any suspensions, individualized education program teams should organize the so-called manifestation determination meetings to review IEPs, observations reported by parents and teachers, and the child’s medical information (Kids Legal, n.d.) Information from these sources can help the team to decide whether unwanted behaviors are closely associated with disabilities and whether misbehavior has to deal with the school’s inability to meet the child’s educational needs to the full extent (Kids Legal, n.d.; Gordon, 2017). If at least one of these two statements turns out to be correct, the school will not be able to suspend a student. In other circumstances, the student should be disciplined just like his or her typically developing peers.
Concerning the second aspect, even after suspension from classes, such students’ educational needs may need to be met in an alternative way. This rule applies to suspensions that can have a detrimental impact on children’s academic progress and knowledge development. In particular, children with disabilities are eligible for educational services that take place outside of the school if they have been suspended from classes “for more than ten school days in a school year” (Kids Legal, n.d., para. 2). Such services should be designed and organized to let special education students meet the general learning goals listed in the curriculum and specific learning goals that find reflection in their individual plans (Kids Legal, n.d.). If necessary and possible, services for such students should also include the development of comprehensive plans to minimize unwanted behaviors that have become the reason for removal from school.
The third aspect refers to the existing procedures that help to challenge decisions concerning suspensions and the results of student evaluations. Both the parents and the school can request hearings and the hearing officer’s assistance if they disagree with the proposed measures or have reasons to suppose that these measures can cause harm to the misbehaving student or other students in the educational setting (Gordon, 2017). For instance, educational agencies may use this procedure to prove that the failure to remove an aggressive student with disabilities can lead to harmful consequences for other students, such as injuries.
Dryden, J., & Cohen, C. (2017). Students: Fourteenth amendment. In C. J. Russo (Ed.), The yearbook of education law (pp. 71-74). Cleveland, OH: Education Law Association.
Gordon, V. H. (2017). Disciplining students receiving special education. Web.
Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565 (1975).
Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651 (1977).
Justia. (n.d.). Public schools. Web.
Kids Legal. (n.d.). Special education discipline: Suspensions and expulsions. Web.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. (n.d.). Know your rights: A manual for Arizona public school students. Phoenix, AZ: The ACLU of Arizona.
The Bill of Rights. (2007). Web.
Zirkel, P. A. (2017). RTI and other approaches to SLD identification under the IDEA: A legal update. Learning Disability Quarterly, 40(3), 165-173.
Education, Special education, Human rights, Fourteenth Amendment to the United States