(Good information as our students prepare to head back to school. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Two notable changes in the law regarding student discipline take effect in this new school year.
Anti-Bullying: HB 1942 by Republican Rep. Diane Patrick of Arlington (Senate sponsor: Democrat Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio), enacted in 2011, makes significant new state law on the issue of bullying.
As of the start of the new 2012-2013 school year, HB 1942 establishes a comprehensive definition of bullying, including bullying by electronic means (so-called cyber-bullying), and requires school districts to adopt a local anti-bullying policy. The new law allows school districts to transfer the bully to another classroom or campus (where prior law has authorized only the transfer of the victim). The local anti-bullying policy must contain eight specified elements, including a provision that prohibits "imposition of a disciplinary measure on a student who, after an investigation, is found to be a victim of bullying, on the basis of that student's use of reasonable self-defense in response to the bullying."
Expulsions: Starting with the 2012-2013 school year, HB 968 by Democratic Rep. Mark Strama of Austin (Senate sponsor: Kirk Watson, Democrat of Austin) narrows the categories of misconduct that can trigger discretionary expulsion of a student while in a disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP). Until now, a student could be expelled for any "serious or persistent" misconduct while in a DAEP. Under the new law, a student may be expelled for "documented serious misbehavior while on the program campus despite documented behavioral interventions." This "serious misbehavior" ground for discretionary expulsion is defined by statute as:
(1) Deliberate violent behavior that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others;
(2) Extortion, meaning the gaining of money or other property by force or threat;
(3) Conduct that constitutes coercion as defined by the Penal Code;
(4) Conduct that constitutes the offense of public lewdness, indecent exposure, criminal mischief, or harassment under the Penal Code, or personal hazing under the Education Code.
Note well: These distinct grounds for expulsion for misconduct while in a DAEP are in addition to the numerous other grounds for expulsion that apply to misconduct by students enrolled at any campus, whether regular or alternative. For a list of the grounds for expulsion applicable to all students regardless of their educational placement, see: http://docs.texasaft.org/publi...
Source: Texas AFT