By Susan C. Stone and Ashley Fuchs
Prior to a recent change in Ohio education law, students who were suspended within the last few days of the school year did not necessarily have to suffer immediately the consequences of their misbehavior. Instead, schools could defer a suspended student’s remaining punishment until a new school year began. This is no longer the case – due to the enactment of House Bill 410, students who were suspended within the last few days of the school year may not be enjoying their summertime freedom as the law once allowed.
H.B. 410, effective as of April 6, 2017, amended certain provisions regarding suspension and expulsion in ORC §3313.66. This new law makes several changes to the old practice of carry-over suspensions, where out-of-school suspension days given to students with less than 10 days left at the end of the school year could carry over into the following year. §3313.66(A) now prohibits a superintendent from applying any remaining part of a suspension to the following school year. This law proposes alternatives to the now-forbidden carry-over suspension, such as requiring a suspended pupil to participate in a community service program or another alternative consequence for the number of hours equal to the remaining part of the suspension, beginning the first full week day of the student’s summer break. The purpose of the new law is to lessen the amount of time a student misses during the school year.
Important to note with this change in law is that the prohibition of carry-over days and proposed alternatives applies only to suspension days. The law explicitly states that expulsion days shall extend into the following school year and provides no alternative to this consequence. This unchanged expulsion law may induce a superintendent to categorize what were once suspension-offenses as expulsion-offenses, thus allowing a school to continue to reprimand a student with carry-over days.
While this revised suspension law might open the door to an over-response to a student’s behavior, this legislative change is one of many recent revisions to Ohio’s education law that aims to provide community-based responses to a student’s misconduct. Accordingly, suspended students may find themselves starting their summer vacations by giving back to their communities, thus able to start the next school year with a clean slate.