TITLE 14

Education

Free Public Schools

CHAPTER 7. LAWFUL AUTHORITY OF TEACHERS OVER PUPILS


(a) As used in this chapter:

(1) "Department" means the Department of Education.

(2) "Disruptive behavior" means conduct that is so unruly, disruptive, or abusive that it seriously interferes with a school teacher's or school administrator's ability to communicate with the students in a classroom, with a student's ability to learn, or with the operation of a school or a school-sponsored activity.

(3) "Racial subgroup" means the racial and ethnic subgroups of students as defined under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, 20 U.S.C. § 6301 et seq., as amended, which includes African American or Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latino, White or Caucasian, and Multi-Racial.

(4) "School" means a traditional public school, vocational technical school, or charter school.

(5) "Subgroup" means as subgroup is defined under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, 20 U.S.C. § 6301 et seq., as amended, which includes racial subgroups, economically disadvantaged students, children with disabilities, and English learners.

(b) While a student is entrusted in their care or supervision, public school teachers, and administrators have the same authority to control the behavior of the student and to discipline or punish the student as a parent, custodian, guardian, or other person similarly responsible for the care and supervision of the student except as provided in §§ 702 and 4112F of this title. The authority includes removing a student from a classroom or school-sponsored activity.

(c) When a teacher removes a student from a classroom or school-sponsored activity in an effort to control the student's disruptive behavior, an on-site school administrator may, upon a written showing of good cause, override the teacher's decision to remove the student from the classroom or school-sponsored activity. Before overriding a teacher's decision, the administrator shall strongly presume that the teacher's decision to remove the student was reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.

(d) When a student is removed from a classroom or school-sponsored activity or is disciplined or punished pursuant to this section, the principal or the principal's designee shall afford the student appropriate due process as required by the federal and State constitutions.

(e) When a student is removed from a classroom or school-sponsored activity, the principal or the principal's designee and the removing teacher shall determine if and when a student may be readmitted to the classroom or school-sponsored activity. If the teacher and principal or principal's designee cannot agree, the superintendent or the superintendent's designee shall make the determination.

(f) When a teacher or school administrator removes a student from a classroom or school-sponsored activity or disciplines or punishes a student, a rebuttable presumption exists that the teacher or administrator acted reasonably, in good faith, and in accordance with State or local board of education policy. The burden of overcoming the presumption shall be upon the student.

(g) Each local board of education shall establish, adopt, publish, and distribute to students in the district and their parents or guardians policy or standards that are consistent with the regulations developed under § 122(b)(26) of this title and include all of the following:

(1) Specify the general circumstances under which a student may be removed from a classroom or school-sponsored activity, consistent with a teacher's and administrator's ultimate authority to determine disruptive behavior and to remove a student from a classroom or school-sponsored activity.

(2) Provide an explanation or examples of "disruptive behavior" set forth in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.

(h) A district shall not establish or adopt a policy or standards that prohibit the removal of a student from a classroom or school-sponsored activity.

(i) No teacher who purports to have acted pursuant to the teacher's rights established by this chapter shall be found liable for civil damages arising from that action unless that teacher's conduct shocks the conscience.

14 Del. C. 1953, § 701; 57 Del. Laws, c. 383; 60 Del. Laws, c. 662, § 1; 72 Del. Laws, c. 236, § 1; 73 Del. Laws, c. 75, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 17, §§ 1-3; 75 Del. Laws, c. 158, § 1; 79 Del. Laws, c. 54, § 1; 81 Del. Laws, c. 324, § 1.;

(a) "Corporal punishment" means the intentional infliction of physical pain which is used as a means of discipline. "Corporal punishment" includes, but is not limited to, paddling and slapping, when used as a means of discipline.

(b) No public school teacher, administrator, official employee or agent of the School Board may subject a student enrolled in the school district to corporal punishment.

(c) Subsection (b) of this section does not prohibit a public school teacher, administrator, official employee or agent of a school board from:

(1) Using reasonable and necessary force to quell a disturbance, including but not limited to a physical altercation, or prevent an act that threatens imminent bodily harm to any person;

(2) Using reasonable and necessary force to obtain possession of a weapon, or other dangerous object within a student's control;

(3) Using reasonable and necessary force for the purpose of self-defense or the defense of others under §§ 464 and 465 of Title 11;

(4) Using reasonable and necessary force for the protection of property under § 466 of Title 11;

(5) Using reasonable and necessary force to prevent a student from imminently inflicting bodily harm on that student's own self;

(6) Using reasonable and necessary force to protect the bodily safety of others; or

(7) Using incidental or minor physical contact necessary to maintain order and control.

(d) In determining whether or not a person was acting within the exceptions in subsection (c) of this section, deference shall be given to reasonable, good faith judgments made by the teacher, administrator, official employee or agent.

(e) Nothing in this section shall prohibit, permit or otherwise affect any action taken by the teacher, administrator, official employee or agent of the School Board with regard to a person who is not a student enrolled in the school district.

(f) For purposes of this section, the term "reasonable and necessary" shall be interpreted in conformity with applicable limitations established by § 4112F of this title.

74 Del. Laws, c. 17, § 4; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 79 Del. Laws, c. 54, § 1.;

(a) The Department shall compile and release an annual report on student discipline in all schools as follows:

(1) The analysis must be based on data, as permitted under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, collected over the 3 most recent consecutive school years.

(2) The report must be posted on the Department's website no later than October 30.

(3) The report shall include both statewide totals and individual school data, for each of the school years in the report, on the issuance of out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, alternative school assignments, and in-school suspensions, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, grade level, limited English proficiency, incident type, discipline duration, and if the student is identified as having a disability.

(4) The report must identify, for each school year in the report, schools that meet any of the following thresholds:

a. Calculations under this subsection should exclude subgroups that contain fewer than 15 students.

b. A school with an out-of-school suspension rate for all students or any 1 subgroup that exceeds any of the following:

1. A rate of 20 suspensions per 100 students for the 2018 through 2019 school year.

2. A rate of 15 suspensions per 100 students for the 2019 through 2020 school year and each school year thereafter.

c. A school for which the out-of-school suspension gap between the lowest-suspended racial subgroup and the highest suspended racial subgroup, or the suspension gap between students with disabilities and students without disabilities, exceeds any of the following:

1. Twenty percent for the 2018 through 2019 school year.

2. Fifteen percent for the 2019 through 2020 school year.

3. Ten percent for the 2020 through 2021 school year and each school year thereafter.

(b) [Subsection (b) effective Dec. 1, 2019] — If a school is identified as meeting a threshold under paragraph (a)(4) of this section for 3 consecutive school years, the Department shall notify the school of this status by December 1 and the school must do all of the following:

(1) Review its discipline policies, practices, and data.

(2) If a school has already implemented restorative justice practices, the school must review the interventions being used to assure research-based quality, scope of training provided, and follow-up support to assure proper implementation. Restorative justice practices program improvements should be made based on this review.

(3) Submit a plan to the Department that identifies the strategies the school will implement beginning in the following school year to reduce the use of exclusionary disciplinary practices or disproportionate use of exclusionary disciplinary practices with racial subgroups or students with disabilities, or both.

a. The plan may be part of their school improvement plan.

b. The plan must be developed with input from students, parents, educators, administrators, and community stakeholders to incorporate strategies to promote fairness and equity in discipline.

c. The plan may increase or improve professional development opportunities for educators, administrators, and staff. Components of such professional development may include 1 or more of the following:

1. Restorative practices.

2. Trauma informed care.

3. Implicit bias awareness.

4. Cultural competency.

5. Classroom management.

6. Other appropriate programming.

d. The plan must be approved at either a public local school board meeting or a charter school's public board of directors meeting.

e. The school must submit the plan to the Department and post the plan on the school's internet website no later than the beginning of the following school year.

f. The school shall submit to the Department an annual progress report describing the implementation of the plan and post the progress report on the school's Internet website no later than October 30. The school may cease submitting a progress report when the school does not meet a threshold under paragraph (a)(4) of this section for 3 consecutive years.

(c) The Department may promulgate regulations necessary to implement and enforce this section. The Department must consult with school administrators, parents, educators, and other stakeholders in developing regulations under this section.

81 Del. Laws, c. 324, §§ 2, 3.;