Discipline and Behavior

Basic Rules, Rights, and Responsibilities

Rules, Rights, and Responsibilities of Seattle Public Schools

Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook

Students Rights and Responsibilities Overview Brochure

Discipline Reference Documents and Tools

Meaningful learning occurs in environments that are safe, welcoming, consistent, and predictable. When students are able to show up as their authentic selves, they feel valued, welcomed and safe in school, and are more likely to participate, stay in school, and learn. Significant increases in academic outcomes for students furthest from educational justice are possible when culturally responsive practices that build trusting relationships, engage students, and empower the voices of students, families, and community in meeting their needs are used.

Seattle Public Schools is committed to furthering cultural responsiveness that respects and values the diversity in schools and in classrooms across the district with an intentional focus on African American boys and teens. This commitment serves to guide decisions in promoting fair and equitable treatment for all.

A safe and welcoming environment is important in promoting a sense of belonging and supporting Seattle Excellence for each and every student. Safe and welcoming school climates include:

  • Educators that share an unconditional belief in the potential for excellence of every student they serve;
  • A vision that understands and acknowledges beliefs, values, rituals, and stories are wide-ranging within a school’s culture and climate;
  • Authentic relationships and interactions between students, families, community members, and staff;
  • Fair and equitable treatment that respects and values all students, families, community members, and staff;
  • Learning environments that are welcoming, safe, and accessible to all;
  • Surveys that examine school climate based on feedback from students, families, community members and staff;
  • Identity safe practices implemented for all students, parents/guardians, community members, and staff regardless of their social identities including but not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender identify, sexual orientation, social economic status, age, ability, citizenship, and body size/type.

An indicator of the successful provision of a safe and welcoming environment are students who feel comfortable speaking to school staff when in need. We understand that students may at times experience emotional and/or physical stressors that negatively impact their behavior. During these times, students are encouraged to share with a trusted adult. Staff are committed to supporting each student so that they are fully able to participate in the school day.

Sometimes additional counseling, support, and resources may be helpful. A number of community agencies offer assistance and information on health and human services available to King County residents. You can call 800-621-4636, or 211 for additional information.

The Seattle Public Schools Student Rights and Responsibilities sets forth the rules and regulations of Seattle Public Schools regarding student behavior. It is created in compliance with the requirements of state law and is aligned with the Seattle Public Schools Strategic Plan. It references sections of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) that govern use of corrective responses (i.e., discipline, suspension, and expulsion) for any student by a school district.

The foundation of Seattle Public Schools’ discipline policy is one of prevention, by establishing a safe and welcoming environment that includes shared school-wide behavioral expectations and a common language co-created by students, families, educators, administrators, district staff, and volunteers within a Tier 1 systems framework. Discipline procedures and strategies aim to maximize instructional time and reduce out of classroom and school consequences for behavior.

Seattle Public Schools recognizes:

  • There is racial disproportionality in disciplinary responses within the district;
  • Each situation involving discipline may be complex with underlying factors that requires staff to understand the function of students’ behaviors;
  • Students, parents, and guardians have a right to be active partners in providing input prior to the school engaging in the disciplinary decision-making process.
  • Those involved with the disciplinary decision-making process should consider mitigating and extenuating factors; and
  • There is an undeniable negative impact on student engagement and graduation rates when exclusionary practices have been used.

Student Rights

As a member of the school community, students have the right to:

  • A safe and welcoming school and classroom based on co-created expectations that promote identity safety and celebrate you being your authentic self;
  • A quality education with high expectations and appropriate support that includes equitable access to culturally responsive content, high-quality instruction, services, resources, and extracurricular activities;
  • Access a high-quality education;
  • Be treated with respect and dignity;
  • Experience visibility and representation of your culture in your school’s staff and throughout the curriculum;
  • Be listened to and have your voice heard;
  • Feel a sense of community, like you belong, and are cared for at school;
  • Have your parents and guardians involved in efforts to support you in meeting expectations and acquiring your education;
  • Be given the opportunity to learn from mistakes and be supported to make desired changes as identified by you, your parent and guardian and school staff;
  • Choose to have you and your parent/guardian be involved with your school and larger learning community;
  • Stay informed in your identified home language;
  • Be a part of an anti-racist education system with a clear pathway for reporting racist activity without retaliation (for more information on how to report incidents, please contact your school leader);
  • Culturally appropriate support, particularly when racist incidents occur that have the potential to interfere with your right to feel safe and learn;
  • Ask for a parent/guardian to be part of any conversation that is in response to a disciplinary incident at school;
  • Continued access to activities and education, while school-wide information is being gathered about a disciplinary incident;
  • Appeal suspensions and expulsions within five (5) school business days and emergency expulsions within three (3) school business days. For more information about this process, please see pg 29 or contact the Discipline Appeals Office at 206-252-8020 to start the appeals process) and the right to participate in a safe and welcoming reengagement meeting prior to your return to school.

Additionally, students have fundamental rights (WAC 392-400-805) and schools may not unlawfully infringe on those rights:

  • Freedom from Unlawful Discrimination
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Freedom of Press
  • Freedom to Peaceably Assemble
  • Freedom to Petition for a Redress of Grievances
  • Freedom of Religion
  • Freedom from Sectarian Control or Influence
  • Freedom from Unreasonable Searches and
  • Seizures (See Appendix A)
  • Freedom to Pursue an Education while in the
  • Custody of the District
  • Right to Equal Educational Opportunity

Student Responsibilities

As a member of the school community, you should take personal responsibility to:

  • Share with a trusted adult when you are experiencing emotional and/or physical stressors for the purpose of obtaining culturally appropriate resources or support;
  • Ask for help with meeting your educational, cultural, social, and emotional needs;
  • Engage in mutually respectful dialogue with staff and other students;
  • Attend school and be prepared for classes to the best of your ability;
  • Contribute to a safe and welcoming environment;
  • Respect and be mindful of the rights of others;
  • Follow “The Basic Rules of Seattle Public Schools” and individual school rules;
  • Dress in school in ways that are consistent with School Board Policy No. 3224;
  • Identify themselves to and follow reasonable requests from school staff; and
  • Respect the property of others and the school. (See School Board Policy No. 3520)
  • When a student does not follow these responsibilities, they may experience a disciplinary response.

If you believe that your rights have been violated, please contact the discipline office at:

206-252-8020 or email: discipline@seattleschools.org

Seattle Public Schools Staff are ethically bound to:

  • Ensure racial equity in our educational system;
  • Work to undo the legacies of racism within our educational system in order to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students;
  • Self-identify opportunities to reflect on personal beliefs, professional practices using historical information, data for analysis, and examining systems and polices for potential changes rather than placing the full responsibility for change on student, parents and guardians;
  • Seek out, attend, and engage in professional development opportunities that promote anti-racist practices and enhance instructional skills and practices and de-escalation strategies;
  • Address unapologetically the needs of African American boys and teens and other Students of Color who are furthest from educational justice by working in collaboration with students, parents and guardians, community-partners, and school staff;
  • Examine their own implicit bias, work from a culturally responsive and trauma informed lens that utilize verbal de-escalation skills;
  • Collaborate with students in creating healthy, safe, supportive, culturally responsive classrooms and school environments;
  • Advocate for the educational, cultural, social, and emotional needs of students and their parents and guardians;
  • Hold all students to high-expectations and and provide culturally responsive, quality and effective social emotional and academic instruction where students are engaged and invited to contribute to learning;
  • Provide culturally appropriate resources and support for students, parents, guardians, and staff;
  • Create opportunities for student voices to be heard and influence changes in course content and practice;
  • Collaborate early with parents and guardians to find solutions for and support student needs;
  • Know, care for, and establish positive relationships with students;
  • Assess, enhance, model and explicitly teach social, emotional, and behavioral skills to students;
  • Understand the purpose of discipline is to support positive behavior change and not to exclude or punish;
  • Engage early on with students, parents/guardians, community-based organizations, and other staff to identify alternative disciplinary responses;
  • Use a variety of ways to support student behavior once harm has occurred, while minimizing the use of exclusionary practices and encouraging the resolution of problems within the school setting;
  • Implement disciplinary responses that are least disruptive to the student-school relationship, while also maximizing instructional time and;
  • Be responsible for teaching and modeling accountability, repairing and restoring relationships with students, and ensuring fair and transparent responses to practices.

When a student is accused of breaking a rule, they have the right to explain their side of the story to school staff before they are disciplined. A family may also meet with school staff to help identify, problem solve, and consider other disciplinary responses. However, if the offense is significant, the student may be suspended or expelled.

In order for a school leader to emergency expel a student, a school must have sufficient cause to believe that the student’s presence poses: (a) an immediate and continuing danger to other students or school personnel; or (b) an immediate and continuing threat of material and substantial disruption of the educational process. If a student is suspended, expelled, or emergency expelled they will receive the written Notice of Disciplinary Action (NDA) within 24 hours.

If you have questions regarding the discipline appeals process, please contact discipline@seattleschools.org

  • Arson
  • Assault
  • (Physical) Aggression
  • Bullying, Intimidation, and Harassment
  • Burglary
  • Computer Trespass, Tampering, and Misuse
  • Dangerous Weapons
  • Disobedience
  • Disruptive Conduct
  • Distributing Alcoholic Beverages
  • Distributing Illegal Drugs, Controlled Substances
  • Prescription, or Over-the-counter Drugs
  • Distributing Marijuana
  • Extortion, Blackmail, Coercion
  • False Alarm
  • False Reporting
  • False Threats
  • Fighting
  • Firearms
  • Fireworks, Explosives, Chemicals, and Incendiary Device
  • Gambling
  • Gang/Hate Group Activity
  • Graffiti
  • Hazing
  • Inappropriate Language
  • Inappropriate Sexual Conduct
  • Inappropriate Touching
  • Interference with School Authorities
  • Intimidation of School Authorities
  • Lewd Conduct
  • Malicious Harassment
  • Malicious Property Damage
  • Misrepresentation
  • Misuse of Computers
  • Other Exceptional Misconduct
  • Plagiarism
  • Possessing or Using Illegal Drugs, Controlled Substances, Prescription, or Over-the-counter Drugs
  • Possessing or Using Alcoholic Beverages
  • Possessing or using Marijuana
  • Possessing or Using Tobacco Products (electronic vapor devices)
  • Possession of Stolen Property
  • Robbery
  • Rule-breaking
  • Selling Alcoholic Beverages
  • Selling Illegal Drugs, Controlled Substances, Prescription, or Over-the-counter Drugs
  • Selling Marijuana
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Small Folding Knives
  • Theft
  • Threats of Violence
  • Toy Guns and Toy Weapons
  • Toys Used as Weapons
  • Trespass

Seattle Public Schools prohibits the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of drugs and alcohol by students on school property, on school-sponsored transportation, or as part of school activities. Compliance with this rule is mandatory; students who disregard the prohibition may be subject to a disciplinary response. Seattle Public Schools offers or can assist in arranging access to drug and alcohol education, counseling, and recovery support. For further information, contact your school leader, school social worker, or school counselor.

If the school leader proposes a disciplinary response, and a student thinks that is unfair or inappropriate, the student has the right to appeal the imposed discipline. The various processes for appealing are contained in the Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook, which may be obtained from the student’s school or from the Student Discipline Office at 206-252-0820

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) provides Equal Educational Opportunities and Equal Employment Opportunities and does not discriminate in any programs or activities on the basis of sex; race; creed; color; religion; ancestry; national origin; age; economic status; sexual orientation, including gender expression or identity; pregnancy; marital status; physical appearance; the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability; honorably discharged veteran or military status; or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal.

SPS provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. For students and members of the public, the following employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged discrimination and may be reached by mail, by phone, or email as specified in the information below:

Seattle Public Schools
MS 32-149
PO Box 34165
Seattle, WA 98124-1166

For sex discrimination concerns, including sexual harassment, contact:

Title IX Grievance Coordinator

For disability discrimination concerns contact:

ADA/Section 504 Grievance Coordinator

For all other types of discrimination, contact:
Student Civil Rights Coordinator,