New Law Limits Suspension and Expulsion of Children in Pre-K to Grade 2

A new law limits the suspension or expulsion of children in pre-school through second grade. The laws regarding suspension and expulsion for students in Grade 3 to 12 are unchanged.

Here are the rules:

Kindergarten through grade 2 (inclusive)

In school suspensions are permitted.

Out of school suspension is prohibited except in cases of conduct on school grounds that is of a violent or sexual nature that endangers persons. Expulsion (meaning exclusion from school for more than 10 days) is prohibited except for mandatory expulsions under the following circumstances:

  1. ON school grounds or at a school sponsored activity: possession of a firearm, deadly weapon, dangerous instrument or martial arts weapon;
  2. OFF school grounds: possession of a firearm in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 29-35 or possession and use of a firearm, instrument, or weapon in the commission of crime; or
  3. ON OR OFF school grounds: sale or distribution of a controlled substance.

Grade 3 to 12 (inclusive)

In school suspensions are permitted.
Out of-school suspension is generally prohibited but is allowed under two circumstances:

  1. If the school administration determines that the child poses a danger to persons or property or a disruption of the educational process; or
  2. If the administration decides it is “appropriate” based on evidence of prior disciplinary problems resulting in suspension or expulsion and prior efforts by the administration to address the child’s disciplinary problems through other means, including positive behavioral support strategies.

Expulsion is permitted under the following circumstances:

  1. Conduct ON school grounds or at school-sponsored activity violates a publicized school policy or is seriously disruptive of the educational process or endangers persons or property; and
  2. Conduct OFF school grounds violates a publicized school policy and is seriously disruptive of the educational process.

Expulsion is mandatory under the following circumstances:

  1. ON school grounds or at a school sponsored activity: possession of a firearm, deadly weapon, dangerous instrument or martial arts weapon;
  2. OFF school grounds: possession of a firearm in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 29-35 or possession and use of a firearm, instrument, or weapon in commission of crime; or
  3. ON OR OFF school grounds: sale or distribution of a controlled substance.

The new law also limits suspension and expulsion for children attending preschool programs run by local or regional boards of education, state or local charter schools or interdistrict magnet schools. For these children, out-of-school suspension and expulsion are prohibited with one exception: possession of a firearm, whether on or off school grounds or at a school sponsored event. As with children in kindergarten to grade 2, in school suspension is permitted.

The new law, Public Act 15-96, became effective on July 1, 2015.

It is important to remember that children with disabilities have additional protections regarding disciplinary action. These protections ensure that children are not disciplined for conduct caused by or substantially related to their disability or based on the school’s failure to implement the child’s individualized education plan (IEP). See these Questions and Answers from the United States Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Parents of children with disabilities, including children with 504 plans and children with special education needs, should contact an attorney and discuss their rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In particular, parents of children with disabilities should familiarize themselves with their rights to a manifestation determination review.