Misconduct by Electronic Means Could Equal Expulsion

Illinois schools will ring in the new year with a new law on the books: potential expulsion or suspension for threats made on the Internet. Effective January 1, 2012, the school code will give school boards the power to expel students for gross disobedience or misconduct perpetrated by electronic means as well as suspend or expel students for certain threats made via the Internet.

Public Act 097-0340, which amends the current School Code, creates, in part, a new subsection to Section 10-22.6 which states:

(d-5) The board may suspend or by regulation authorize the superintendent of the district or the principal, assistant principal, or dean of students of any school to suspend a student for a period not to exceed 10 school days or may expel a student for a definite period of time not to exceed 2 calendar years, as determined on a case by case basis, if (i) that student has been determined to have made an explicit threat on an Internet website against a school employee, a student, or any school-related personnel, (ii) the Internet website through which the threat was made is a site that was accessible within the school at the time the threat was made or was available to third parties who worked or studied within the school grounds at the time the threat was made, and (iii) the threat could be reasonably interpreted as threatening to the safety and security of the threatened individual because of his or her duties or employment status or status as a student inside the school. The provisions of this subsection (d-5) apply in all school districts, including specific charter districts and districts organized under Article 34 of this Code.

These amendments to the Illinois School Code should not alter the protections and procedures required by state law relating to the suspension or expulsion of a student, nor will it diminish the rights of students protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act.

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