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A school incident under MGL c. 71 § 37H is categorized as "Policies relative to conduct of teachers or students; student handbooks." Violations under § 37H include tobacco use, bullying, possession or use of illegal substances or weapons, the use of force, vandalism, or violations of a student's civil rights.*

A school incident under MGL c. 71 § 37H1/2 is categorized as "Felony complaint or conviction of student; suspension; expulsion; right to appeal." Suspensions and expulsions under § 37H1/2 result from students being charged with a felony or upon the issuance of a felony delinquency complaint.

A school incident under MGL c. 71 § 37H3/4 is categorized as "Suspension or expulsion on grounds other than those set forth in Secs. 37H or 37H1/2."

As of November 8, 2022, § 37H3/4 was amended to require schools to attempt alternative methods and remedies before resorting to suspension. Specifically, the amendment states:

 

"Any principal, headmaster, superintendent or person acting as a decision-maker at a student meeting or hearing, when deciding the consequences for the student, shall consider ways to re-engage the student in the learning process; and shall not suspend or expel a student until alternative remedies have been employed and their use and results documented, following and in direct response to a specific incident or incidents, unless specific reasons are documented as to why such alternative remedies are unsuitable or counter-productive, and in cases where the student’s continued presence in school would pose a specific, documentable concern about the infliction of serious bodily injury or other serious harm upon another person while in school. Alternative remedies may include, but shall not be limited to: (i) mediation; (ii) conflict resolution; (iii) restorative justice; and (iv) collaborative problem solving. The principal, headmaster, superintendent or person acting as a decision-maker shall also implement school- or district-wide models to re-engage students in the learning process  which shall include but not be limited to: (i) positive behavioral interventions and supports models and (ii) trauma sensitive learning models; provided, however, that school- or district-wide models shall not be considered a direct response to a specific incident."

Manifestation Determination Reviews (MDRs)

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 US § 1415(k), if a student with disabilities has received over 10 cumulative or consecutive days of suspensions, it is considered a change of placement. The IDEA states that if it is determined by the IEP team that the behavior or conduct that resulted in the proposed disciplinary action was a manifestation of the student's disability(ies), or if the conduct in question was the direct result of the school’s failure to implement the student's IEP, then the student will not receive a change of placement (unless agreed upon by the parties or exceptions apply) and a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) shall be conducted and Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) shall be developed from the results of the FBA and implemented.

*When looking for the definitions of "controlled substance," "illegal drug," "weapon," and "serious bodily injury," the IDEA looks to their respective definitions under criminal law.  

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