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. The reason why I am devoting an entire article here on Private School Review is to underscore the importance of handbooks. Both you and your child need to understand that the school's handbook is linked to the contract which you signed with the school. Private schools are not like public schools in this very important regard: students have rights in a public school; but they do not have rights in a private school. They are governed by what is known as contract law. That contract which you signed with the school spells out all the obligations of the parties to that contract. Somewhere buried in the fine print will be a statement to the effect that one of your child's obligations is to abide by the rules and regulations of the school and its community as set forth in the school's handbook and elsewhere.
 
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 at the beginning of school, assume nothing. Make sure that she understands that failure to abide by the terms of the
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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. They face so many temptations. They cope with so much peer pressure. Popular culture bombards them with notions of what is acceptable and what's cool. What's a parent to do? Sometimes it seems as though we are swimming against the tide. A very strong tide.
 
Regardless of what pressures our teenagers face, our job as responsible parents is to teach our children that there will be consequences for their actions. Some consequences are positive. Others will be negative. For example, when our teenagers learn to drive, they are taught that it is illegal to run a red light. Or to drink and drive. Those consequences seem pretty obvious. Most teenagers, but not all, tend to obey those basic rules. That's the point. We try very hard to teach our teenagers that rules are there for a purpose. You perhaps many not agree with the reason for the rule. You do, however, have to be aware of the rules and obey them.
But what about the consequences our children might face for breaking the rules in a private school? You see, private and publc schools are very different when it comes to discipline. The difference between public and private school becomes even more noticeable when it comes to the handling of the big issues such as substance abuse among other disciplinary matters. There will be immediate consequences in most private schools for infractions of the
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Codes of Conduct
Discipline in private schools generally begins with a code of conduct.

One of the reasons we parents send out children to private school is because of discipline. We have grown concerned about our children being in large classes where the teachers spend much of their teaching time dealing with discipline issues. That's not the education environment we want for our children. We want them to go to school to learn in a safe, supportive environment. 

As you investigate private schools at any level, review how the schools handle discipline. Because each private school is a stand-alone entity, how it approaches the matter of discipline will vary from school to school. Be ready for that. How a school handles discipline is one of many factors which will influence your choice of schools.

What is a code of conduct?

Discipline in private schools generally begins with a code of conduct. A code of conduct is a document which has been produced by the school administration and approved by the board of trustees or other governing body. The code of conduct is generally read and signed by parents and students at the time of admission to the school. It becomes part of the contract between student, parents and the school which governs your attendance at 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. 

It will be difficult if not impossible to claim ignorance of the school's discipline code. The

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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.
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