Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How to weigh in on student discipline rules

In 2016, the state legislature passed House Bill 1541 to tackle some of the issues causing opportunity gaps in education. Part of this involved changing how schools could discipline students. That, in turn, required updating state discipline rules to govern how these changes in the law would be enforced.

If you are a parent or student, these rules tell you what schools are supposed to be doing and what should or should not be happening when a student is suspended or expelled.

The proposed discipline rule changes are now ready for review, and the public has several ways to weigh in on them. (See Attend a Public Hearing and Send Written Comments, below.)



  • Districts still need to offer educational services to students, even if students are excluded from the classroom.
  • The state put parameters on when long-term suspension or expulsion can be used and defined "discretionary discipline." For instance, students cannot be expelled for violating the dress code or using an electronic device (though they can be disciplined).
  • Except when it comes to bringing firearms onto school premises, schools are encouraged to use "alternative actions" (that is the language used in the bill) before expelling a student.
  • If a student is suspended or expelled, schools must convene a re-engagment meeting and must include families in this meeting.
  • For a more complete explanation and overview of other aspects of the bill, see Final Bill Report 4SHB 1451



In this instance, the "rules" establish what the public needs to do to comply with state law.

When the legislature passes a bill, they establish policy intent -- that is, what is supposed to change. Administrative agencies then write rules to make sure that happens. In this case, the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is writing rules that school districts will need to follow in order to comply with legislative intent around suspension and expulsion.




OSPI welcomes and encourages comments on the proposed rules. Please submit written comments to:

  • Dierk Meierbachtol, Chief Legal Officer, ffice of Superintendent of Public Instructio n
    PO Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200; or
  • Email:
  • Deadline, Nov. 13, 5 pm



OSPI will hold four public hearings to receive comments about the proposed rule changes. In King County, the hearing will be held:
  • November 7, 2017, 1:00–5:00 p.m.
  • Educational Service District 121
  • Cedar/Duwamish Room
  • 800 Oakesdale Ave., Renton, WA 98057
To arrange accommodations for disabilities, please contact Kristin Murphy at 360-753-4201 or TTY 360-664-3631 or by email at

For language interpreter services, please contact Jennifer Olson at 360-725-6162 or TTY 360-664-3631 or by email at