Originally appeared in the CAS Weekly Newsletter.
Written by attorney Thomas B. Mooney.

Dear Legal Mailbag:

Yesterday, we caught a special education student with marijuana midway through the school day and we sent him home with his parents during school hours. I like to think of myself as a savvy administrator, and I have better things to do than attend manifestation meetings for these types of offenses. So I have decided to count yesterday as a 0.5 day of suspension. That way, we will only burn 0.5 day of suspension for him. Indeed, if we take this new approach whenever we send a special education student home in the middle of the day, we will count only 0.5 day of suspension that first day, with the result that it will take longer to get to the “more than 10 days” trigger that requires that we conduct a manifestation determination.

Actually, as I think about it, I am pretty darn proud of myself. But before I claim well-deserved kudos from my colleagues, I just want to check to make sure that Legal Mailbag is in agreement.

Thank you,
Thinking Outside the Box

Dear Outside:

As much as Legal Mailbag appreciates and admires divergent thinkers, Legal Mailbag cannot back you on this one. A student is either suspended or is not suspended, and Legal Mailbag cannot endorse your new math here.

In short, there is no statutory authority for a suspension of 0.5 days. Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 10-233a sets out the disciplinary interventions that are authorized:

  • Removal
  • In-School Suspension
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

A removal is defined as “an exclusion from a classroom for all or part of a single class period, provided such exclusion shall not extend beyond ninety minutes.” “In-school suspension” is defined as an “exclusion from regular classroom activity for no more than ten days,” and “suspension” defined as “an exclusion from school privileges or from transportation services only for no more than ten consecutive school days.”

Legal Mailbag believes that these provisions must be interpreted together. A removal is exclusion for up to ninety minutes. The next level of discipline is either an in-school suspension or an (out-of-school) suspension. Exclusion from regular school privileges for more than ninety minutes, therefore, would perforce be a suspension (in- or out-of-school). The statutes provide no support for the proposition that a day of “suspension” can be divided by 2 or some other number.

That said, please keep on thinking outside the box. One of your theories might even be right one day.