Issues related to student discipline and school safety are critical to the daily operation of the school district and have a significant impact on the board’s efforts to focus on and improve academic achievement. The learning environment must be safe, secure and free from disruption for teaching and learning to occur. At the same time, it is important to remember that the rights of school officials to adopt and enforce reasonable rules of student conduct are not unlimited. Certain constitutional, statutory and regulatory laws protect students from arbitrary and unreasonable discipline. It is also important to remember that parents and students often form their strongest impressions of a school’s climate from policies and regulations established by the board and administration. It is up to the board of education to establish the tone.
To provide a learning environment that is safe, conducive to the learning process and free from unnecessary disruption, state law requires the board of education to adopt and implement a safe schools plan. [C.R.S. § 22-32-109.1.] As a starting point, boards must adopt a mission statement for the district that includes making safety a priority and also adopt a student conduct and discipline code. Each local board must also adopt a crisis management policy and approve the district’s overall safety plan. In addition, local boards of education are responsible, to the extent possible, for developing written agreements with law enforcement officials, the juvenile justice system and social services to keep each school environment safe.