Student Discipline in Texas Public Schools
What if ...
- A student continues to disrupt your class even though you have
tried every discipline technique in the book?
- You find dangerous weapons on a student?
- The student with the most difficult behavioral problems is
also a special education student?
- A student assaults somebody on campus?
- You’ve heard rumors that a student on your campus was arrested
Serious student discipline problems in Texas schools are subject to a detailed statutory
process designed to maintain the safety and order of Texas’ campuses and classrooms.
The most common questions are answered below. Also, read your school's student code of conduct for local
rules. The complete text of the
Safe Schools Act (chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code) may also be of
The Student Codes of Conduct
Local school boards must adopt student codes of conduct that specify the circumstances under
which students can be removed to disciplinary alternative education programs (DAEPs), suspended or
Each school district’s code of conduct must be posted and prominently displayed on every campus
within a district or be made available for review at the principal’s office.
The code of conduct must specify whether consideration will be given to self-defense in a
Student removal from the classroom
At any time, a teacher can temporarily remove a student to the principal’s office to
maintain effective classroom discipline.
A teacher can remove a student from class and initially refuse to consent to the student’s return if the
student repeatedly interferes with either the teacher’s ability to communicate or the other
students’ ability to learn, and the teacher has documented such interference. Additionally, a
teacher has this right if a student’s behavior is so unruly, disruptive or abusive that it
seriously interferes with either teacher communication or other students’ ability to learn.
Sample memo: Student Removal
After a student's removal
The principal must hold a conference with the student, the teacher and at least one of
the student’s parents. The student may not be returned to class before the conference is held.
If a teacher refuses consent for the student to return to class, the student may be placed in
another class, in-school suspension (ISS) or a DAEP unless a placement review committee (PRC)
overrides the teacher’s lack of consent, determining that the prior placement is the best or only
The PRC cannot override a teacher's refusal if the removal is the result of an assault against the
The PRC consists of three people: two teachers chosen by campus faculty and one professional
staff member chosen by the principal. The teacher who refuses to allow the student to return to
class cannot serve on the committee.
DAEPs are disciplinary alternative education settings that may be either on or off the
regular campus but must provide supervision, counseling and instruction in core curricula. By law,
school districts must provide these settings for students who violate student codes of conduct.
These codes must provide guidelines for setting the length of terms for removals or expulsions
that are required or allowed by the Safe Schools Act.
Students in DAEPs must be separated from regular education students, and they must be given the
opportunity to complete coursework necessary for graduation requirements before the beginning of
the next school year through any method available, including correspondence courses, distance
learning or summer school.
Student removal to a DAEP
A student must be removed from class and placed in a DAEP for felony acts occurring on
campus, within 300 feet of the school’s property, at a school-sponsored event, or for many violent
felonies occurring off-campus. Certain other offenses specified in law also trigger mandatory
removal. Students also may be removed at the discretion of school districts for non-violent
felonies occurring off campus. (Please see lists below for additional information.)
Require Mandatory DAEP Placement
Conduct on or within 300 feet of school property or at school-sponsored event
- Conduct punishable as a felony
- Assault resulting in bodily injury
- Use, possession, sale or delivery of illegal drugs or alcohol
- Abuse of glue, aerosol paint or chemicals
- Public lewdness or indecent exposure
On- or Off-campus Conduct
- Retaliation against school employees
punishable as a terroristic threat, false alarm or report of bomb
threat, fire, or other similar emergency
Situations that Result in Mandatory DAEP Placement
Situations that Can Result in Discretionary DAEP Placement
- The student receives deferred prosecution
or is adjudged delinquent for conduct punishable as a violent felony; or
- The superintendent has a reasonable belief
that the student has engaged in conduct punishable as a violent felony.
The superintendent has
a reasonable belief that the student has engaged in conduct punishable
as a non-violent felony or behavior containing elements of deadly
Any conduct occurring
within 300 feet of school property that would have required mandatory
expulsion if it had occurred on school property.
The safety of other
students or teachers is threatened.
The student’s presence
will be detrimental to the educational process.
Any other felony
conduct for which the student has been adjudicated or received
The local student code of
conduct provides for removal to a DAEP.
- Students may be suspended for no more than three school days at a time as an alternative to DAEP placement.
- Students must be expelled for a certain set of serious offenses (see list on right).
Additionally, students may be expelled for an alternate set of offenses occurring at any campus
or at any school-sponsored event in the state. These offenses include sale of illegal
substances, false alarm, persistent serious misbehavior while assigned to a DAEP or terroristic
- Students may be expelled for the following offenses committed against other students whether
the offenses occurred on or off campus: aggravated assault, sexual assault, aggravated sexual
assault, aggravated robbery, murder or criminal intent to commit murder. Local guidelines
determine the length of the expulsion.
- Students also may be expelled for assault resulting in bodily injury against a school
district employee or a volunteer; use, possession, sale or delivery of illegal drugs or alcohol;
deadly conduct; or possession of a firearm if the activity occurred within 300 feet of school
- When a student expelled from a previous district enrolls in a new district, the new district
may continue the expulsion, place the student in a DAEP or allow the student to attend regular
- Students who present a serious threat can be removed immediately to a DAEP or be expelled.
Offenses that Require Mandatory Expulsion
- Firearm and weapons offenses
- Aggravated assault, sexual assault, arson, murder, attempted murder, indecency with a
child or aggravated kidnapping
- Felony offenses involving illegal drugs or alcohol
- Aggravated robbery
- Criminally negligent homicide
- Any of the above committed in retaliation against a school employee, on or off campus
On- or Off-campus Conduct
- Certain criminal activity in retaliation against a school employee or volunteer
Returning a removed student to
If a teacher made a mandatory removal to an AEP due to an aggravated assault, sexual
assault or aggravated sexual assault occurring on campus or at a school-sponsored event, the student may not be
returned to the teacher’s class without that teacher’s consent.
If a student is removed for assaulting the teacher resulting in bodily injury, the student may not be
returned to the teacher's class without the teacher's consent.
If a student is in the juvenile justice system for an act that occurred in
class, the student may not be ordered back to the teacher’s class in which the offense occurred
without that teacher’s consent.
If a teacher removes a student for seriously or persistent disruptive behavior, and the
teacher refuses consent for the student to return to class, the student may be returned to that
teacher’s class only if a placement review committee overrides the teacher’s lack of consent,
determining that the prior placement is the best or only available alternative.
Discipline of younger students
All the discipline laws apply to all students regardless of age with two
Students younger than 10 years old cannot be expelled from school except for carrying
a firearm to school. For other expellable offenses, students younger than 10 must be removed to
an DAEP but should not be mixed with non-elementary students.
DAEP placements must be available for elementary school students. However,
students younger than 6 years old cannot be removed to an off-campus
DAEP but must receive
on-campus consequences except in cases of carrying a firearm to school. Even in this case the
student may not be expelled.
Law enforcement reports
to school districts
Law enforcement officials must notify a school district when a student is
arrested or detained for most felony criminal offenses; when a student is convicted or judged
delinquent in the juvenile justice system for those same offenses; or when a student receives a
deferred prosecution or deferred adjudication order.
When a student under the jurisdiction of a parole or probation office enrolls in
a new district, the new district must be notified.
to law enforcement officials
Any principal who has reasonable grounds to believe that a serious crime (as specified in
37 of the Texas Education Code) has occurred on campus or at a school-sponsored event
or has knowledge of any other criminal conduct for which a student may be expelled must report
that information to the district police department, if available, and to local law enforcement
School officials' reports to
School districts must inform teachers if they are to have regular contact
through classroom assignments with students who have engaged in expellable offenses or have
engaged in conduct constituting unlawful restraint, indecent exposure, assault, deadly conduct,
terroristic threat or organized criminal activity.
Superintendents who receive required notification from law enforcement
authorities must promptly notify all instructional and support personnel who supervise the
student(s) named in the report.
Principals who make required notifications to law enforcement authorities must
promptly notify all instructional and support personnel who supervise the student(s) named in
School districts must notify any educator responsible for providing instruction
to a student when the student is placed in a DAEP for misconduct.
School districts must notify any educator responsible for providing instruction
to a transfer student if the student was placed in the former school district's DAEP at the time
of the transfer.
The notified educators must keep the information confidential.
The law on special education discipline
The Departments of Education and Justice created a
publication called Early Warning, Timely Response, which outlines strategies for preventing school violence. Although it has been distributed to every U.S. school, you can
obtain a free copy by calling (877) 4ED-PUBS or download it at
The legal information provided on this website is for general purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for
individual legal advice or the provision of legal services. Accessing this information does not create an
attorney-client relationship. Individual legal situations vary greatly and readers should consult directly with an
attorney. Eligible ATPE members should contact the ATPE Member Legal Services Department using our
online system, MLSIS.
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