The following was included in TCTA's 2018-19 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2018 but is subject to change.

Student Code of Conduct

School districts and open-enrollment charter schools must develop Student Codes of Conduct in conjunction with district-level and site-based decision-making committees. SCCs operate in conjunction with the discretionary and mandatory sanctions outlined in Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code. Teachers can expect administrators and the board to enforce the SCC.

The law requires that the SCC specify that consideration will be given to mitigating factors (self-defense, intent, disciplinary history, etc.) when determining whether a student will be suspended, expelled or removed to a disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP) or juvenile justice alternative education program (JJAEP), regardless of whether the decision relates to a mandatory or discretionary removal. The SCC must also include provisions regarding actions that would result in a student’s removal from a school bus.

State law designates the SCC as the appropriate place for campuses to indicate if the use of progressive sanctions, and what those progressive sanctions will be, are the responsibility of the campus behavior coordinator (see below).

Campus behavior coordinator

A 2015 law initiated by TCTA requires each campus to have a designated CBC. This person may be the principal or other campus administrator selected by the principal, and will be the administrator primarily responsible for maintaining student discipline. Though district or campus policy establishes specific duties, the law states that a teacher may send a student to the CBC’s office to maintain discipline. The CBC must respond by using appropriate discipline management techniques that can reasonably be expected to improve behavior before the student may be returned to class. If the student’s behavior does not improve, alternate techniques must be used. Unfortunately, some DOIs have chosen to exempt themselves from this provision.

Discipline professional development

Administrators who oversee student discipline must, at least once every three years, attend training on school discipline laws, including distinctions between a principal’s discretionary discipline management technique and a teacher’s discretionary authority to remove a disruptive student from the classroom.

Teacher removal of students from class

State law gives teachers the means to protect a disciplined environment. Teachers can remove from class students who continuously or seriously disrupt learning. This process is a different, more formal process for addressing student discipline that is separate from sending a student to the CBC.

A principal can assign the student to a DAEP, suspend or expel the student, or put the student in another teacher’s class. A teacher can refuse a student’s return to class, subject only to the right of the campus placement review committee to place the student back in the class as the best or only alternative placement. TCTA-initiated legislation ensures that a student may not be returned to a teacher’s class without the teacher’s consent if the student had been removed by the teacher for assault causing bodily injury to the teacher. The teacher may not be coerced to consent, and the decision may not be overturned by a disciplinary review committee as with other removals.

Removal of students from school buses

A bus driver can send a student to the principal’s office to maintain effective discipline, and the principal must respond with appropriate discipline management techniques.

DAEP placement

The law identifies crimes for which teachers are required to remove students from class, and teachers can expect districts to enforce the mandatory placement provisions. Sec. 37.006 of the Education Code identifies crimes that require DAEP placement, including assault of a teacher. In some cases, a crime committed wholly apart from school, such as retaliation against a teacher, requires DAEP placement. Districts cannot assign a student younger than age 6 to a DAEP, unless the student brings a firearm to school. Schools cannot place elementary students with nonelementary students in DAEPs. Regardless of whether the disciplinary action is mandatory, the CBC must consider whether the student acted in self-defense, the intent or lack of intent at the time the student engaged in the conduct, the student’s disciplinary history, and whether the student has a disability that substantially impairs the student’s capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of the conduct.

Evaluation of DAEPs

The law requires DAEPs to provide for students’ educational and behavioral needs, and DAEPs’ educational mission is to enable students to perform at grade level. The commissioner of education, as required by law, adopted rules for the annual evaluation of DAEPs. Districts must administer a pre- and post-assessment of academic growth for students placed in DAEPs for 90 school days or longer. The instrument must be administered on the student’s initial placement in the program and on the date of departure, or as near that date as possible. Procedures for administering the pre- and post-assessments must be developed and implemented in accordance with district policy.

Expulsion for serious criminal conduct

Chapter 37 specifies when districts are required or allowed to expel students who engage in very serious crimes, such as aggravated assault, sexual assault, or drug and alcohol offenses.

Expulsion and continued education

In most counties of more than 125,000 people, districts must educate expelled students in a JJAEP. Education of expelled students younger than age 10 must occur in a DAEP. If a student transfers, the new district may continue the expulsion.

Expulsion from a DAEP

A district can expel a student from a DAEP if he/she is documented to have engaged in serious misbehavior, as defined by law, while in the DAEP despite documented behavioral interventions. “Serious misbehavior” is defined as deliberate, violent behavior that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others; extortion; conduct that constitutes coercion; public lewdness; indecent exposure; criminal mischief as defined by the Penal Code; personal hazing; or harassment of a student or district employee.

Prohibition on out-of-school suspension for young students

State law prohibits placing a student under grade 3 in out-of-school suspension unless the student engages in certain serious behaviors listed in the Education Code. School districts and charter schools, in consultation with the CBC, may develop and implement a program that provides a disciplinary alternative for students under grade 3 whose behavior makes them eligible for out-of-school suspension according to the student code of conduct. The program must: be age-appropriate and research-based; provide models for positive behavior; promote a positive school environment; provide an alternative disciplinary course of action that does not rely on the use of in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, or placement in a DAEP to manage student behavior; and provide behavior management strategies including positive behavior intervention/support, trauma-informed practices, social and emotional learning, any necessary referrals for services, and restorative practices.

Placement of registered sex offender

Pursuant to TCTA-initiated legislation, a student who is a registered sex offender must be placed in a DAEP or JJAEP for at least one semester. The placement is reviewed after one semester and annually thereafter by a committee that includes a teacher from the school the student would attend, the student’s parole/probation officer (if none, then a representative of a local juvenile probation department), an instructor from the AEP, a school district designee and a school counselor.

If a student transfers to a different district during the required alternative placement period, the new district may require the student to complete an additional semester without reviewing the placement or may consider the time previously spent in a DAEP. The student’s placement in the AEP continues until it is determined that placement in the regular classroom is not a threat to students or teachers, will not disrupt the educational process, and is not contrary to students’ best interests.

Placement of a student receiving special education services must be reviewed by the ARD committee, which may request that the district convene a placement committee as described above to assist the ARD committee. If the student is not under court supervision, the district may place the student in a regular classroom, unless it is determined that such a placement is a threat to students or the teacher, will disrupt the educational process, or is otherwise not in students’ best interests.

School marshals

“School marshals,” whose identities are kept confidential, are school employees with special training who may exercise the authority given to peace officers, including making arrests, subject to regulations adopted by the school board or charter school governing authority. They may act only as necessary to prevent or abate an offense that threatens serious bodily injury or death to persons on school premises. The school board can appoint no more than the greater of one marshal per 200 students per campus or one marshal per instructional building at a campus.

The marshal may carry a handgun on school premises under certain regulations. If the marshal’s primary duty involves regular contact with students, the marshal may not carry the weapon but may keep it in a locked and secured safe within reach. The gun may be loaded only with “frangible” ammunition that disintegrates on impact. The gun may be accessed only under circumstances justifying the use of deadly force. The Commission on Law Enforcement operates a training program available to any school employee who holds a concealed handgun license, and administers a psychological exam to determine fitness to carry out the duties of a school marshal.

Citations and graduated sanctions

A school district peace officer, law enforcement officer, or school resource officer may not issue a citation to a child who is alleged to have committed a school offense (an offense committed by a child enrolled in a public school on property under the control and jurisdiction of a school district) that is a class C misdemeanor, other than a traffic offense. However, the school may file a complaint against the child with a criminal court if the district has developed a system of graduated sanctions that the child has failed to comply with or complete, or if the school district has not elected to adopt a system of graduated sanctions.

Notification to educators

Educators have the right to be notified about students under their supervision who have certain types of disciplinary or criminal history. For more information, click here.

Right to report a crime

TCTA-initiated legislation clarifies that school district or open-enrollment charter school employees may report any crime they witnessed at school to any officer with the authority to investigate it. Districts and charters cannot adopt a policy restricting this right or requiring employees to report only to certain people or officers.

See also:

TCTA's "Removing Students from Class" guide

Student discipline rights and responsibilities

Sample Notices for Removal of Students

Removal/Change of Placement of Students With Disabilities

Classroom Discipline

Corporal Punishment and Use of Force

Student Conduct: Required Notice to Educators

School Marshals/Peace Officers