Discipline: Virtual Instruction
The School Board has made virtual classes available to students including those established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such virtual instruction may be continued thereafter, particularly in cases when school is closed due to inclement weather, disasters, and other emergencies. The provisions of this policy and those of all student handbooks and codes of conduct shall be applicable to misconduct, whether on-campus, during virtual instruction, on a school bus, on the streets to and from school, or at a school event or activity.
The St. Mary Parish School Board has extended its on-campus conduct expectations to the virtual classroom, with a few modifications that factor in the home setting. Regular school attendance is required, and students are expected to log into classes each day. Conduct that is unacceptable and which would lead to the imposition of discipline in the regular classroom is typically unacceptable in the virtual classroom as well. Regardless of the model of instruction, student conduct is governed by La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §17:416 and the Student Code of Conduct and/or Student Handbook. At the same time, for alleged misconduct which occurs during virtual instruction, school-based administrators shall consider the need for maintaining order and appropriate conduct, the school’s interest being impacted, and the student’s and family’s right to privacy and constitutional rights while at home or in a location that is not school property.
A student and his/her family shall not waive their constitutional rights by electing virtual instruction. At the same time, students engaging in virtual instruction shall ensure that, prior to logging into and during any virtual classroom, the view from their camera is free of any object, writing, picture, or other display which, if possessed on school buses, in the classroom, or on school property, would subject the student to disciplinary action.
Students are cautioned that the virtual classroom is for instruction and for engaging with peers and teachers for educational purposes. Students must not handle or display items, toys, messages, images, or personal property or engage in conduct unrelated to the lessons taking place. Students who engage in conduct in the virtual classroom that violates the Student Code of Conduct and this Virtual Discipline policy may be subject to discipline in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct and this Policy.
In addition, a student’s work should reflect the effort of the student alone. Those rules/policies governing academic honesty as well as those prohibiting cheating apply equally in a virtual setting. All academic work should be completed by the student to ensure the ability to accurately measure the achievement of minimum standards necessary for credit/promotion.
The following non-exclusive list of behaviors are prohibited in the virtual classroom and may result in disciplinary action:
- Bullying and/or cyberbullying
- The use of harassing or discriminatory language
- Use of obscene language, profanity, inappropriate language, writing or drawings
- Displaying obscene gestures, drawings, images, audios, videos, etc.
- Academic dishonesty, cheating, i.e. sharing work, answers, etc.
- Displaying pornography or nudity, whether in a printed or digital context
- Committing lewd or sexual acts or simulations*
- Repeated disruptions of the classroom
- Display of nudity, indecent dress, disrobing, etc.
- Exhibiting disrespect for the teacher or other school personnel
- Interference with the instructional audio or video
- The handling or display of weapons or facsimile weapons*
- Use or display of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or vaping devices
- Divulging confidential information
- Violation of computer/password security
- Violations of the School Board’s/School’s Acceptable Use Policy or Device Contract
The context in which student behavior occurs is important, however, and will be taken into consideration by School and District administrators in determining whether there has been a violation of the Code of Conduct.
As with all other forms of misconduct, the level of discipline, if any, for violations in a virtual setting will depend upon the age of the student, seriousness of the offense, the disruptive nature of the misconduct, whether the conduct involved violence or the threat of violence, whether the misconduct impacted the safety or orderly environment of the classroom, the student’s prior disciplinary record, etc.
*Students receiving virtual instruction at home are exempt from mandatory recommendations for expulsion.
*School and/or district officials may be required, as mandatory reporters, to alert local law enforcement and/or the Department of Children and Family
Services if they observe conduct, messages, images, or objects that raise legitimate concern for the safety and well-being of students in the virtual classroom. This may include students handling weapons in the virtual classroom, even if it is subsequently learned that the weapon is a toy or facsimile, as it is not always possible to determine remotely whether the weapon is real or not.
For purposes of this section, classroom shall include on-campus or virtual classes.
The principal or his/her designee shall provide oral or written notification to the parent or legal guardian of any student removed from the classroom. Such notification shall include a description of any disciplinary action taken.
DISCIPLINE OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
Discipline of students with disabilities shall be in accordance with applicable state or federal law and regulations.
Virtual instruction shall mean instruction provided to a student through an electronic delivery medium including but not limited to electronic learning platforms that connect a student in a remote location to classroom instruction.