Out of School Student Misbehavior

K-12 Law School Series

Out of School Student Misbehavior

Marilyn Gardner, a lawyer, spent years teaching Advanced School Law at the university doctoral level. Her focus was court decisions at all levels of government which have had an impact on the governance of schools and what school personnel can do in terms of the operation of schools, curriculum, instruction, assessment and school personnel, and treatment of candidates. Marilyn Gardner, Lawyer, would always stress that failure to comply with school law can have far-reaching and costly implications.

The K-12 School Law Series curriculum focuses on the Pearson Educational Leadership Series books which focus on the major areas of school litigation and promotes an understanding of the principles of law that guide the governance and operations of schools while equipping school authorities with appropriate knowledge, skills, and disposition to fulfill their obligations to school-aged youngsters.

In her research, she identified four Pearson Educational Leadership Series books (https://www.amazon.com/School-Law-Public-Schools-Educational/dp/0137072759) that are valuable resources on these topics.  They cover many facets of K-12 School Law and are important resources to empower school administrators and staff.  They are:

Law and Ethics in Educational leadership, David Stader ISBN: 978-0-13-268587-0
School Law and the Public Schools, Nathan Essex, ISBN: 978-0-13-707275-0
A Teacher’s Pocket Guide to School Law, Nathan Essex, ISBN: 978-0-13-335191-0
School Law: Cases and Concepts, Michael W. LaMorte, ISBN:978-0-13-707247-7

Pearson’s resources (https://www.pearson.com/us/sign-in.html) focus on the major areas of school-related litigation and the implications of court rulings for school leaders, teachers as well as the related changes in policy affecting the school environment. School staff will be empowered to deal in legally defensible ways with school- and community-based situations and remain current with school-related law and policy.

Topic: Out of School Student Misbehavior

Pearson Educational Leadership Series
Sample Scenarios from: Law and Ethics in Educational leadership, David Stader (ISBN: 978-0-13-268587-0) and School Law and the Public Schools, Nathan Essex, ISBN: 978-0-13-707275-0

Today we are going to focus on Out of School Student Misbehavior. School leaders are generally familiar with their authority in disciplining students while attending a school or participating in school-sponsored activities. However, their disciplinary authority becomes severely limited when the alleged student misbehavior occurs out of school. Administrators need a certain set of Skills in this area.  for knowing, understanding, analyzing, and communicating include the following:

They need to:

  • Know I when to be the investigative Authority
  • Understand their Administrative Authority
  • Be able to Analyze Facts and Applying Legal Principles and
  • Communicate their Decisions

Let’s go into more detail for each.

Knowing Your Investigative Authority means the effective administrator knows when to question students accused of out of school misbehaviors.

Understanding your Administrative Authority means the effective administrator knows when to become involved and take action in out of school alleged student misbehaviors.

When Analyzing Facts and Applying Legal Principles – The effective administrator analyzes the facts surrounding a specific case and takes appropriate action based
on legal principles. and finally, The effective administrator tactfully and diplomatically communicate unpopular decisions.

Let’s discuss the following scenario. In this activity, you will answer the following questions, and then write a letter to a local store owner explaining the rationale for your decision. Mr. Al Fred, a community business owner and a significant financial supporter of your school’s athletic programs has complained again about two of your students.
Apparently, these students visit Mr. Fredd’s nearby variety store daily after school and cause problems. Specifically, they curse at him and his wife and are generally just rude. They also suspect that these students spray-paint graffiti on the back and sides of the store, although they cannot prove it. He wants you to do something. He is now threatening to withhold further substantial financial donations to your school. Furthermore, he intends to contact his best friend on the School Board to complain about your inaction.
Let’s legally review this scenario by answering the following four questions.

Question 1: Since the incident occurred outside of school, can the school principal legally discuss the matter with the students?

It is important to note that there a difference between fact-finding and taking adverse action against the students? Yes, the school principal may talk with the students about the allegations to obtain additional information. The results of this fact-finding investigation should assist the principal in deciding whether to take action for an out of school incident allegedly committed by these students.

Question 2: Under what conditions may a school principal legally take adverse action against students for out of school alleged misbehaviors?

The big question in this scenario is Does a school principal’s administrative authority differ for in-school and out of school student misbehavior? Yes, a school principal’s authority varies greatly depending on whether the student’s misbehavior occurs in-school or out of school. School principals enjoy wide authoritative latitude for in school incidents. Their authority, however, is severely limited for out of school student misbehaviors.

School leaders should act only if there’s a nexus (direct connection) between the alleged out of school incident and the school. For example, two students fighting at the mall on Saturday does not necessarily create a nexus with the school. Therefore, principals should not become involved. If on the other hand, the students vow to continue fighting when they arrive at school on Monday, it becomes a school matter. Principals should, therefore, take decisive action, such as meeting with both students immediately upon their arrival.

Question 3: In this case, does the principal have the legal authority to take action?

Although the students are enrolled in your school and their behavior is regrettable, their alleged misbehavior has no nexus with your school (their misbehavior at Mr. Fred’s store is not being exhibited in your school). Therefore, you have no legal authority to take adverse action against these students.

Question 4: What could you do to help the situation?

As noted earlier, the store owner is a significant financial supporter of your school. One suggestion is to write a letter that is direct, yet diplomatic.


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