Section 16-1-24.1Safe school and drug-free school policy; treatment of policy violators; promulgation and distribution of discipline policy; liability limited for discipline actions; local boards may adopt more stringent guidelines.
(a) The Legislature finds a compelling public interest in ensuring that schools are made safe and drug-free for all students and school employees. The Legislature finds the need for a comprehensive safe school and drug-free school policy to be adopted by the State Board of Education. This policy should establish minimum standards for classes of offenses and prescribe uniform minimum procedures and penalties for those who violate the policies. It is the intent of the Legislature that our schools remain safe and drug-free for all students and school employees. The State Board of Education shall adopt and all local boards of education shall uniformly enforce policies that protect all students and school employees. The State Board of Education shall require local school systems to modify their policies, practices or procedures so as to ensure a safe school environment free of illegal drugs, alcohol, or weapons. Any rules and regulations adopted by the State Board of Education pursuant to this section shall be exempt from Section 41-22-3(3). These modifications shall include the formulation of a discipline plan setting forth policies, practices, and procedures dealing with students or other persons who bring illegal drugs, alcohol, or weapons on a school campus. The discipline plan shall also include uniform drug-free school policies with uniform penalties.
(b) The principal shall notify appropriate law enforcement officials when any person violates local board of education policies concerning drugs, alcohol, weapons, physical harm to a person, or threatened physical harm to a person. If any criminal charge is warranted arising from the conduct, the principal is authorized to sign the appropriate warrant. If that person is a student enrolled in any public school in the State of Alabama, the local school system shall immediately suspend that person from attending regular classes and schedule a hearing at the earliest possible date, which shall not be later than five school days. The decision to suspend or initiate criminal charges against a student, or both, shall include a review and consideration of the student's exceptional status, if applicable, under Chapter 39, or appropriate federal statutory or case law.
(c) If a person is found to have violated a local board of education policy concerning drugs, alcohol, weapons, physical harm to a person, or threatened physical harm to a person, the person may not be readmitted to the public schools of this state until (1) criminal charges or offenses arising from the conduct, if any, have been disposed of by appropriate authorities and (2) the person has satisfied all other requirements imposed by the local board of education as a condition for readmission.
(d) Any person determined to be guilty of an offense involving drugs, alcohol, weapons, physical harm to a person, or threatened physical harm to a person, may be readmitted to the public schools of this state upon such conditions as the local board of education shall prescribe for preservation of the safety or security of students and employees of the local school board, which may include, but are not limited to, psychiatric or psychological evaluation and counseling.
(e)(1) A copy of the school system's discipline plan shall be distributed to all students enrolled in the system and their parents, guardians, or custodians shall read the plan and sign a statement verifying that they have been given notice of the discipline policies of their respective school system. The school board shall have its official discipline plan reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that its policies and procedures are currently in compliance with applicable statutes, case law, and state and federal constitutional provisions.
(2) All discipline plans of school systems shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:
a. A parent, guardian, custodian, or person, excluding a foster parent, responsible for the care or control of a minor child enrolled in a public school system shall be responsible financially for such child's destructive acts against school property or persons.
b. A parent, guardian, custodian, or person, excluding a foster parent, responsible for the care or control of a minor child enrolled in a public school system may be requested to appear at school by an appropriate school official for a conference regarding acts of the child specified in paragraph a.
c. A parent, guardian, custodian, or person, excluding a foster parent, responsible for the care or control of a minor child enrolled in a school system who has been summoned by proper notification by an appropriate school official shall be required under this provision to attend such discipline conference specified in paragraph b.
(3) Any public school system shall be entitled to recover actual damages, plus necessary court costs, from the parent or guardian, or both, of any minor who maliciously and willfully damages or destroys property belonging to the school system. However, this section shall not apply to parents whose parental control of any child has been removed by court order or decree or to parents of exceptional children with specific mental and physical impairments if the damage is determined to result from the impairments. The action authorized in this section shall be in addition to all other actions which the school system is entitled to maintain and nothing in this section shall preclude recovery in a greater amount from the minor or from a person, including the parents or guardian, or both, for damages to which such minor other person would otherwise be liable.
(4) This section shall apply only to acts committed on or after August 1, 1992.
(f) The local school board shall adopt and make available to all teachers, school personnel, students, and parents or guardians, at the beginning of the 1992-93 school year and each school year thereafter, a code of student conduct developed in consultation with teachers, school personnel, students, and parents or guardians. The code shall be based on the rules governing student conduct and discipline adopted by the school board and may be made available at the school level in the student handbook or similar publication. The code shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:
(1) Specific grounds for disciplinary action.
(2) Procedures to be followed for acts requiring discipline.
(3) An explanation of the responsibilities and rights of students with regard to attendance, respect for persons and property, knowledge and observation of rules of conduct, the right to learn, free speech and student publications, assembly, privacy, and participation in school programs and activities.
(g) Except in the case of excessive force or cruel and unusual punishment, no certified or noncertified employee of the State Board of Education or any local board of education shall be civilly liable for any action carried out in conformity with state law and system or school rules regarding the control, discipline, suspension, and expulsion of students.
(h) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent a local board of education from promulgating more stringent rules and regulations than those adopted on the state level, in order to foster and maintain a safe and drug-free environment in the public schools.
(Acts 1991, No. 91-323, p. 602, §22; Acts 1994, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 94-784, p. 72, §1.)