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  • Summary date: May 6 2024 - View Summary

    Amends the definitions provisions of GS 115C-390.1 (state policy and definitions pertaining to student discipline). Defines intermediate-term suspension as the exclusion for more than 20, but no more than 42, cumulative school days of a student from school attendance for disciplinary purposes from the school to which the student was assigned at the time of the disciplinary action. Defines in-school suspension and reasonable attempt. Makes conforming changes to short-term suspension and long-term suspension to account for intermediate-term suspension. Specifies that notice to parents must be written in plain language and easy to understand. Specifies that if a school is aware that a parent has a primary language other than English, then school must provide the notice in both English and the parent’s primary language. 

    Amends GS 115C-390.2 (discipline policies) as follows. Encourages governing boards to implement truancy and tardiness policies that focus on intervention strategies aimed at addressing the root cause of absenteeism, promoting attendance through positive reinforcement and engagement. Prevents governing body policies from suspending students solely for truancy and tardiness (currently, only prevents governing boards from imposing long-term suspensions or expulsions for truancy or tardiness). Further prevents governing bodies from: (1) restricting physical activity as a form of punishment; (2) detaining students for disciplinary purposes for more than one hour after the official end of the school day; and (3) authorizing suspension for students in first through third grade, except if the student is possessing or using illegal drugs or if they have committed a serious violation of the Code of Student Conduct (Code) that threatened the safety of themselves or others. Requires governing bodies to adopt a policy for in-school suspension. Provides for reasonable attempts at notice to parents within one hour of the end of the school day that the suspension was imposed and limits on the number of days a student may be subject to in-school suspension. Removes reference to safe schools plans. Limits short-term suspensions to more than 10 consecutive school days per suspension period and no more than 20 cumulative school days per year under GS 115C-390.5 (short-term suspensions). Removes reference to safe schools plans. Makes conforming changes. 

    Amends GS 115C-390.6 (short-term suspension procedures) as follows.  Now allows for a student to appeal a short-term suspension if it is for three days or more and if the student will have a cumulative 15 days or more of short-term suspension at the end of the period being appealed to the superintendent. Makes technical and conforming changes.  Requires the principal to make a reasonable attempt at notice within one hour of the end of the school day that the suspension was imposed (currently required to give notice at the end of the workday when reasonably possible but not later than two days after suspension is imposed). 

    Adds new GS 115C-390.6A (intermediate-term suspensions), allowing a principle to recommend intermediate-term suspensions to the superintendent for a student who willfully engages in conduct that violates a provision of the Code that authorizes such suspensions. Provides for an opportunity for hearing before the superintendent. Permits the superintendent to, either upon a hearing (if requested) or review of the circumstances of the recommended suspension, to (1) impose suspension if consistent with Board policy; (2) impose another appropriate penalty; or (3) decline to impose any penalty. Guarantees students who are subject to intermediate-term suspension the opportunity to take instructional materials home for the length of the suspension, the right to receive all missed assignments upon request, and the opportunity to take exams missed during the suspension period. 

    Provides for intermediate-term suspension procedures in new GS 115C-390.6B, including written notice with eight required components, a requirement that the student decline the opportunity for hearing in writing, process in case of requests for postponement of the hearing, the conduct of the hearing, an appeal to the local board of education, judicial review, and confidentiality provisions pertaining to witnesses that could create a safety risk.  

    Amends GS 115C-390.7 (long-term suspensions) to require a hearing before such a suspension is imposed. (Currently, a student may opt out of a hearing.) Makes conforming changes. 

    Amends GS 115C-390.8, long-term suspension procedures as follows. Requires the principal to make a reasonable attempt to give notice to the student’s parents within one hour of the end of the workday on the day the suspension is recommended (currently, must do so when reasonably possible or as soon thereafter as practicable). Requires the student and parent to have been given reasonable notice of the time and place of the suspension hearing. Makes conforming changes. 

    Makes technical change to GS 115C-390.11(expulsion). 

    Amends GS 115C-391.1 (concerning permissible use of seclusion and restraint) to require the principal or designee to make a reasonable attempt to give notice to the student’s parents within one hour of the end of the workday on the day the incident occurred (currently, only has to notify the parent or guardian promptly and provide certain information). Makes organizational and conforming changes. 

    Amends GS 115C-391.2 (student searches) to require the school to make a reasonable attempt to notify a student’s parent before any search or interrogation occurs or if unsuccessful, to give notice to the student’s parents within one hour of the end of the workday on the day the search occurred. 

    Adds new GS 143B-168.10L (disciplinary actions in early child care settings) requiring all early child care providers, including public school units and private schools offering prekindergarten services to annually submit a report to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) with detailed data on suspensions and expulsions with four required elements.  Requires DPI to analyze data for patterns and to inform strategies for minimizing suspensions and expulsions, while emphasizing non-exclusionary disciplinary practices. Requires DPI to issue any specific reporting guidelines and data formats. 

    Appropriates $2 million from the General Fund to DPI in nonrecurring funds for the 2025-2025 fiscal year to assist DPI in developing and distributing guidance to public school units on how to implement the act. 

    Effective July 1, 2024, and applies beginning with the 2024-2025 school year.