Discipline

A brief look into high school discipline policies. From codes of conduct to uniforms and dress code, we’ll provide information on the latest practices in private schools.
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Handbooks
A private school handbook is essentially a set of guidelines for life in the school community.
A private school handbook is essentially a set of guidelines for life in the school community. Most handbooks are comprehensive, very detailed documents which seek to cover every conceivable aspect of school life. They are generally rather lengthy documents too as you will see when you review the examples listed at the end of this article. Take time to review your school's handbook. Discuss and confirm that your child understands the seriousness of this document. While the school will explain the content of its handbook, assume nothing.

Handbooks outline guidelines. They are not contracts. When you send your child to private school,you sign a contract clearly spelling out your obligations and the school's obligations. That contract is a binding legal document. Unfortunately it is one of those documents with pages of fine print that you file carefully in a safe place. That's where the handbook comes in. The handbook covers the day to day rules, policies and procedures which you and your child must adhere to and abide by while part of the school community. The handbook usually explains the rules, policies and procedures in great detail. "I didn't know that!" will be an unacceptable reason for breaking the rules because every student is expected to read, know and apply the material contained in their school's handbook.

Many handbooks are online. Depending on the school, the access may be password protected and limited to current parents and other members of the school community. Many schools publish their handbooks without password protection....
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My Child Has Been Expelled For Smoking Pot!
If your child is caught smoking pot or drinking on her private school campus, the consequences will be severe.
We parents hold our breath as our children enter the teenage years. So many temptations. So much peer pressure. The difference between public and private school becomes very marked when it comes to handling the big issues such as substance abuse among other disciplinary matters. Here is what you can expect to find at most private schools.

Break The Rules. Face The Music.
Put another way, if your child gets caught smoking pot or drinking on a private school campus, she will almost certainly be asked to leave the school. (That's the polite way of saying "She will be expelled."

As if expulsion is not embarrassing enough, it creates a major blot on her academic records. Admissions officers at other schools will want to know what the reason was for her sudden departure from Exclusive Country Day School. You will also have to scramble to get her admitted to the local public school where she will be exposed to even more temptations and inappropriate influences.

Infractions of the rules at a public school will almost certainly lead to a similar conclusion. The big difference is that in public school there is something called due process. So the matter will drag on for weeks and months until resolved.That is because students have 'rights' under the Constitution. One is presumed innocent until proven guilty and so on.

Not so in private school. You signed away your child's rights when you signed that contract with the school. Read the fine print. If she commits an infraction,...
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Codes of Conduct
Discipline in private schools generally begins with a code of conduct.
Discipline in private schools generally begins with a code of conduct. This is a document which is read and signed by parents and students at the time of admission to the school. It is part of the contract between student, parents and the school. Since you have already agreed to the school's code of conduct beforehand, when you commit an infraction of the code, you will be disciplined accordingly.

Gone are the days when discipline meant a couple of licks with a leather strap or a paddling on your buttocks. Corporal punishment is simply unacceptable in 21st century America. Indeed it is illegal in twenty-six states. Discipline is something which is defined by and meted out according to the contract between you and the school.

The important concept to understand is that as a student in a private school you are governed by contract law, not constitutional law. In other words, you do not have the same rights as a public school student. If you violate the terms of your contract, you will be dealt with accordingly.

Many schools have 'zero tolerance' policies when it comes to capital offences involving substance abuse, cheating, stealing and sex. You need to take your school's code of conduct seriously and abide by it or face the consequences. These consequences could be as serious and final as expulsion from the school.

Uniforms and Dress Codes
School uniforms are largely found at religious, parochial and military schools. Dress codes have replaced uniforms at most schools.
More and more private schools are adopting dress codes as opposed to uniforms. You will still find uniforms in religious, parochial and military schools. Perhaps the most famous school uniform is the one worn by boys at Eton College. While it is still worn everyday, the uniforms worn in American schools are a lot less formal, if, indeed, a uniform is worn at all.

One of the reasons a dress code is more popular is that it gives some modicum of self-expression while at the same time maintaining a standard of dress. Oversize clothing, all black outfits, extreme hair styles and other symbols of gangs and fringe activities are simply not on.

This dress code from Foxcroft School is typical of the sort of dress code you can expect at a girls' school:

"Foxcroft's dress code is fairly simple – khaki or black pants or skirts with solid-colored, collared blouses which are tucked in. Shoes (which may not be athletic shoes) must have closed toes and backs. Dress code is required during the Academic Day."
 
McCallie School offers a quite detailed description of what's acceptable and what's not at that fine all-boys school in a Dress Code Letter:
 
"Regular school dress requirements/prohibitions are as follows:
1. Students are expected to wear a solid colored dress shirt with tie (tie should be within one inch of top button on shirt), long pants with a belt, visible socks, and shoes.
2. Students should tuck shirts in...
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