Are You a Legal Professional?

Student Codes of Conduct

Part of a school's responsibilities is to provide its students with a safe and structured learning environment in which they can thrive. Student codes of conduct help implement safety and structure by providing the guidelines and policies of conduct and discipline. Whether you are a student, teacher, or administrator, student codes can outline acceptable forms of behavior, as well as potential penalties for violation. This section focuses on various codes of conduct matters, including background information, basic issues arising out of codes of conduct, and specific conduct policies in a school setting. Click on the links below to learn more.

Student Codes of Conduct: Basic Issues

Student codes of conduct have been developed in order to improve clarity regarding the expectations schools set for their students. These codes are intended to help ensure that a structured educational environment is developed where students and teachers both operate under pre-determined standards that provide guidance and describe disciplinary actions in advance of trouble. Common aspects of student codes of conduct include prohibitions against:

  • unpreparedness for class
  • truancy
  • vandalism
  • inappropriate attire
  • disruptive behavior

A violation of a student code of conduct may result in punishment. The most common punishment is "detention," where a student is kept after school. Other punishments may include writing a warning or reprimand, holding a student conference, holding a parent conference, changing the student's class schedule, or imposing a suspension. The kind and severity of punishment is typically dependent upon the nature of the infraction and the student's record of prior infractions.

Student Codes of Conduct: Serious Violations and Violence

Students who accrue more serious violations of student codes of conduct may face more serious punishment. Some schools have developed more advanced intervention programs to deal with students who cause serious trouble. Students can be assigned to complete community service projects, or the local police department may become involved. More serious violations of student codes would include:

  • cheating or plagiarizing
  • using profane, obscene, or offensive language
  • possessing pornographic material
  • theft from another student or the school
  • gambling on school grounds
  • threatening the safety of another student
  • fighting with another student

Other concerns for modern schools include violence and sexual assault among students. The increase in school shootings, growing concerns about bullying, and the growing number of sexual assault cases taking place of school campuses have caused schools to take the physical security of their students and staff more seriously than was previously the case. Criminal charges, suspension, expulsion, or transfer to alternative disciplinary education programs are the increasingly common outcome of these incidents.

Codes of Conduct: Technology Use and Cell Phone Policies

Student codes of conduct have increasingly needed to address their students' use of technology. Cellphones, email, and social media have presented new and uncomfortable problems that schools have found it necessary to address. Some schools provide their students with email addresses. These schools feel that responsible management of their digital lives is part of the educational experience and use technology to filter and otherwise guide student online activity. Other schools avoid the issue by not providing email addresses or otherwise limiting access. Acceptable use policies have helped both schools and students understand what activities they undertake may cause problems at school and privileges are frequently revocable.