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correction, is believed to be largely respon- sible for the high number of student suspen- sions. These are just some examples of a con-

certed effort by lawmakers to address stu- dent discipline (particularly the dispropor- tionate application of student discipline among certain demographics) as well as the perceived underutilization by schools of disciplinary alternatives provided for in the Education Code.

Alternatives to suspension The law encourages creativity by school

officials in employing disciplinary alterna- tives to suspension, subject to the legal pa- rameters set forth in the Education Code. The Legislature has also expressly set forth some specific disciplinary alternatives in the Education Code. These include:

1. Community service California law permits school districts

to require students to perform commu- nity service as a form of discipline, both as

an alternative to suspension or as part of a student’s suspension order. Education Code section 48900.6 authorizes a school district to require students to perform community service on campus without parent consent and off campus with parent consent. Further, the law authorizes a surpris-

ingly broad range of activities that qualify as community service, both on or off cam- pus. Section 48900.6 provides that: “For the purposes of this section, ‘community ser- vice’ may include, but is not limited to, work performed in the community or on school grounds in the areas of outdoor beautifica- tion, community or campus betterment, and teacher, peer, or youth assistance pro- grams.” Accordingly, school districts have gen-

erous latitude in determining what consti- tutes appropriate community service, from cleaning up graffiti on the weekends to vol- unteering at a the local Boys and Girls Club. The rationale for Section 48900.6 is de-

scribed in its legislative history: “[C]om- munity service offers a much more produc-

tive and appropriate punishment in some cases than does suspension or expulsion. Campus community service would keep students in the school environment and teach them respect for school property, while providing a valuable service to the campus.” Although the amount of community

service should be reasonable in relation to the offense, there is no restriction on the amount of community service that can be assigned. There are, however, restrictions on assigning community service to students engaged in more serious misconduct.

2. Requiring parents to attend class As a deterrent to bad behavior, there are

likely few methods more effective (or mor- tifying) than having a child’s parent join him or her as a lab partner in chemistry. But surprisingly, this is one of the most under- utilized disciplinary alternatives authorized by the Education Code. Generally, a parent can sit in on his or her child’s class volun- tarily with the consent of school officials. But Education Code section 48900.1 autho- rizes a teacher to require a parent to attend class with his or her child as a disciplinary alternative to out-of-school suspension, under the following conditions: • The student must have been suspended

from class by the teacher (distinguishable from an administrator-authorized suspen- sion from school); • The suspension from class must be for

a violation of either Education Code section 48900(i) (obscene act or habitual profan- ity or vulgarity) or 48900(k) (disruption or willful defiance); and • Prior notice of this policy must be given

to parents before implementation. Presumably, one reason this option is

not employed more often is the perceived inconvenience to the child’s parents – par- ticularly the desire not to get either parent in trouble with his or her employer. How- ever, consistent with the Legislature’s intent to encourage alternatives to suspension, lawmakers have gone to great lengths to protect parents who are required to attend class with their child. Specifically, California Labor Code sec- tion 230.7 prohibits an employer from ter-

34 Leadership

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