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The Law of Colorado Public School Discipline — Part 5

Many Colorado school districts – Denver stands out, in particular – are moving away from using suspensions and expulsions as much as they used to. They are finding other ways of dealing with disciplinary problems.

Colorado law actually encourages alternatives to removal from school by encouraging schools to look at several factors before suspending or expelling students. These factors, under C.R.S. 22-33-106(1.2), include:

  1. The age of the student.
  2. The student’s disciplinary history.
  3. Whether the student is disabled.
  4. The seriousness of the student’s violation.
  5. Whether the violation threatened the safety of any student or staff member.
  6. Whether a lesser intervention – besides suspension or expulsion – would properly address the violation.

An increasingly popular tool that schools are using as an alternative to suspension is called “restorative justice.” Under this approach, students may be encouraged to mediate their problems and driven to understand how their actions affected the community. This is a much softer approach than suspension, and it may not be appropriate in all situations – particularly if it’s already been tried before and the student continues to commit violations of rules.

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