How Salem schools handle disciplinary issues

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A brief explanation of how schools approach severe behavior incidents:

If we suspect a student of any criminal activity, we notify police.  The police determine if the actions are unlawful or not. If the action is not unlawful (according to police), we try to determine if the behavior was committed on school grounds, during an offsite school activity or to or from school. If it does, school discipline rules apply.

The only time a school can discipline a student for behavior (including a social media posting) that occurs on their own time is when it disrupts the educational process (if we evacuated the school, went on lock down, etc.) or they are an athlete or in a co-curricular activity (band, choir, club). Disciplinary action is then restricted to that activity because activities are considered a privilege, not a right, and students understand if they misbehave anywhere they can lose a privilege.

If the behavior was committed during school time, as previously described, we would give the student their legal Due Process.  Due Process is basically a guarantee that government is treating students fairly. This means we investigate the situation to gather information and we interview the student and any others who may have information about the incident.  Once that is complete and we have evidence a particular student’s behavior was committed during school time, that person is subject to discipline. In cases involving severe behavior, this means being removed from school.  This is typically a suspension, pending expulsion.  From the expulsion hearing, the hearing officer can expel the student for up to a year, return the student to school under probationary terms or a mixture of those two options.  The outcome of a hearing depends on the specifics of the situation.

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