Attached are the Arkansas Department of Educationís (ADE) guidelines governing the development, review and revision of school district student discipline and school safety policies. These guidelines were promulgated pursuant to the Department of Educationís authority under Ark. Code Ann. Sections 6-11-105 and 6-18-502 (Repl. 1993).
The school district student discipline policies are to be developed through the commitment, cooperation, and involvement of the districtís administrators, teachers, students, parents, and counselors. The policies are to describe the districtís expectations of student conduct and specify the consequences of violating the rules. As the need arises, school officials may adopt additional policies containing student conduct rules. Any new policies or modifications to existing school district student discipline policies must be submitted to the Arkansas Department of Education within 30 days of board approval.
GUIDANCE CONCERNING STATE AND LOCAL RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER THE GUN-FREE ACT OF 1994
State and local responsibilities are mandated under the Gun-Free School Act (GFSA), which was enacted on October 20, 1994, as part, of the Improving Americaís School Act of 1994 (the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), Public Law 103-382.
The GFSA states that each state receiving Federal funds under ESEA must have in effect, by October 20, 1995, a state law requiring local educational agencies to expel from school for a period of not less than one year a student determined to have brought a weapon to school. Each Stateís law also must allow the chief administering office of the local educational agency (LEA) to modify the expulsion requirement on a case-by-case basis.
The legislation explicitly states that the GFSA must be construed to be consistent with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Therefore, by using the case-by-case exception, LEAs will be able to discipline students with disabilities in accordance with the requirements of Part B of the IDEA and maintain eligibility for Federal financial assistance.
The GFSA also requires the State Education Agency (SEA) to report on an annual basis concerning LEA compliance. Therefore, before awarding any ESEA funds to an LEA, the SEA must ensure that the LEA has: (1) implemented a policy requiring referral to the criminal justice or juvenile delinquency system of any student who brings a weapon to school; and (2) included in its application for ESEA funds the assurance and other information required by the GFSA. SEAs must ensure that the LEA application contains:
1) An assurance that the LEA is in compliance with the state law requiring the one-year expulsion; and
2) A description of the circumstances surrounding expulsion imposed under the one-year expulsion requirement; including:
a) the name of the school concerned;
b) the number of students expelled from the school; and
c) the type of weapons concerned.
A copy of the Arkansas Department of Educationís guidelines is attached.