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Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct 2020–2021

Maintaining a safe, productive environment inside our schools and classrooms is a priority at Cincinnati Public Schools so that our students will learn, grow in character and maturity, and graduate ready for success.

This Code of Conduct applies to all CPS students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Students must follow the districtwide Code of Conduct before, during and after school. The Code is in effect inside school buildings, on school grounds and at school-related activities. Students also must follow these rules on the yellow buses or vans, or Metro buses, that bring them to school, take them home and transport them to school-related activities.

This Code of Conduct and CPS' discipline procedures are based on Ohio law and CPS Board policies.

Students and parents/guardians should read and understand this Code of Conduct to help model positive behavior for their children and prevent behavioral problems that could lead to disciplinary action.

Questions or concerns about this Code of Conduct? Contact the school's principal or the CPS Customer Care Center at (513) 363-0123.

Searches of Students and Property

Students will be subject to searches by metal detectors and/or by hand on a random basis or with reasonable suspicion by district administrators or security personnel. The district may search the following:

  • a student’s outer clothing, pockets, book bags or other property
  • a student’s locker
  • a vehicle driven to school by a student and parked on school property

Students have no expectation of privacy in cell phones or other electronic devices brought to school. If there is reasonable suspicion that a search will reveal a violation of school rules, cell phones and other electronic devices may be confiscated and searched, including searching calls, emails, contacts, texts, and other communications or internet access.

Working with Families to Keep Students in School and Engaged in Learning

What Families Can Expect — Steps Following Student Misbehavior

When the principal finds that a student has committed an offense, the principal or another school administrator will:

  1. Investigate the incident, including meeting with the student and others involved to seek an explanation for the situation.
  2. Notify the family if a corrective strategy is used.
  3. Send a letter to the family if the corrective strategy is an assignment to Out-of-School Suspension.

Actions Families Can Take

  1. Ask for a meeting with the principal to discuss the decision and to request information about the investigation or the appeal process.
  2. Appeal an assignment to Out-of-School Suspension by writing a letter or email to the district's Hearing Officer stating the reason for the appeal.

When writing an appeal, include the name of the student, name of parent or guardian, name of student’s school, and phone number(s) where parent or guardian can be reached.

Appeals may be sent by email to the Hearing Officer. Or, mail or deliver an appeal letter to the Hearing Officer at the CPS Jacobs Center, 5425 Winton Ridge Lane, Cincinnati, OH 45232 (Winton Terrace). A response will be sent via letter or email within 72 hours.

Emergency Removal from School

Emergency removal can occur only for the following reasons:

  • If the student’s presence in school poses a danger to people or property
  • If the student is an ongoing threat of disruption

Emergency removal requires communication between school officials and the student’s family (parent or guardian or, if necessary, other adult family members). At the time of the removal, the family will be contacted in person or by telephone to explain the reason for the removal and to request a meeting.

In addition, a letter with the explanation and meeting request will be sent to the family and a copy will be given to the student. To maintain consistency in communication, a districtwide letter will be used.

  • A student in grades Preschool–3 may be removed for the remainder of the school day.
  • A student in grades 4–12 may be removed for the remainder of the school day and the next school day.

Permanent Exclusion

The Board may seek the permanent exclusion of a student 16 years of age or older who is convicted in criminal court, found delinquent, or found to have assisted, in connection with any of the following offenses:

  1. Illegal conveyance or possession of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordinance; carrying a concealed weapon; trafficking in drugs, including possession or sale of a bulk amount of a controlled substance.
  2. Aggravated murder, murder, voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, assault, rape, gross sexual imposition or felonious sexual penetration involving a district employee on school grounds or at a school function.

The Superintendent may consider permanent exclusion based on the severity or number of offenses.

Per Ohio law, a student will not be removed from school if the only misbehavior is truancy (not attending school).

Discipline for Young Students 

CPS Board Policy No. 5610 prohibits out-of-school suspension or expulsion of students in preschool to third grade, except when required by law.

Students in kindergarten to third grade must follow the Code of Conduct. Discipline for misbehavior will follow the Code's Corrective Strategies.

Corrective Strategies for Category I Offenses

Districtwide Expectations — What's Expected of Students Expected Behavior — What Students Should Do Infractions of Expectations — What Students Should Not Do Menu of Consequences for Student Infractions — These are not intended to be the only choices or sequential.*
Be Safe
  • Stay in assigned area.
  • Out of Bounds
  • Disruptive Behavior
  • Restorative Practices
  • Re-teach the behavioral expectations
  • Create a behavior contract that includes expected student behaviors, as well as consequences for infractions and incentives for demonstrating expected behaviors
  • Require the student to complete a community service task within the school community
  • Have the student choose a method of apologizing or making amends to those harmed or offended
  • Provide a reflective activity
  • Refer to intervention team
  • Office referral for chronic Category I offenses
  • Detention, during which the student completes work
  • Alternative Learning Center (ALC), during which school work is completed
  • Restitution
  • Parent contact, if possible
  • Parent/Teacher conference
  • Student conference
Be Respectful
  • Follow directions.
  • Obey classroom rules.
  • Communicate respectfully.
  • Disobedience
  • Inappropriate Communication
Be Responsible
  • Tell the truth.
  • Do your work.
  • Use cell phones only as allowed by district and school rules.
  • Cheating
  • Gambling
  • False Identification
  • Electronic Communication Devices

*Selections from this list will be made by school officials in a least-restrictive and progressive manner in alignment with the school's Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) Plan.

Corrective Strategies for Category II Offenses

Districtwide Expectations — What’s Expected of Students Expected Behavior — What Students Should Do Infractions of Expectations — What Students Should Not Do Menu of Consequences for Student Infractions — These are not intended to be the only choices or sequential.*
Be Safe
  • Solve problems peacefully.
  • Keep hands and feet to yourself.
  • Respect others' opinions.
  • Obey laws regarding smoking for minors
  • Present without Authorization
  • Leaving Without Authorization
  • Tobacco/Smoking
  • Fighting
  • Gang Activity
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Restorative Practices 
  • Conference with student to determine disciplinary consequences
  • Parent contact
  • Loss of privileges
  • Re-teach (may include role-play)
  • Create a behavior contract
  • Require the student to complete a community service task
  • Written reflection
  • Have the student choose a method of apologizing or making amends to those harmed or offended
  • Refer to intervention team
  • Restitution
  • Arrange linkage with counseling agency 
  • Create a home/school communication system
  • Require daily or weekly check-ins with administrator for a set period of time
  • Identify a mentor and establish a schedule of activities related to school performance
  • Detention
  • Saturday School
  • File charges if law is broken
  • Out-of-School Suspension
  • Recommendation for Expulsion
Be Respectful
  • Use polite words.
  • Consider the feelings of others.
  • Profanity or Obscenity
  • Sexual Misconduct
  • Bullying/Harassment/Intimidation
  • Depictions of Prohibited Conduct
Be Responsible
  • Ask before borrowing.
  • Take care of school property.
  • Stealing/Possession of Stolen Property
  • Damaging/Destruction of Property
  • Fireworks
  • Counterfeit Currency

* Selections from this list will be made by school officials in a least-restrictive and progressive manner. Offenses in Category II require a mandatory office referral.

Corrective Strategies for Category III Offenses

Districtwide Expectations — What's Expected of Students Expected Behavior — What Students Should Do Infractions of Expectations — What Students Should Not Do Menu of Consequences for Student Infractions — These are not intended to be the only choices or sequential.*
Be Safe
  • Eat and drink healthy foods.
  • Ask for help if you are not safe.
  • Alcohol and Drugs
  • Physical Assault
  • Serious Bodily Injury
  • Dangerous Weapons
  • Firearms**
  • Firearm Look-Alikes
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexting
  • Starting a Fire
  • Conference with student 
  • Create a behavior contract
  • Re-teach
  • Require student to complete a community service project
  • Have student choose a method of apologizing or making amends to those harmed or offended
  • Refer to Intervention Team, Interagency Team, Multifactored Evaluation Team, or IEP Team
  • Arrange linkage with counseling or mental health agency
  • Create a home/school communication system
  • Require daily check-ins with administrator, counselor or social worker for a set period
    of time
  • Identify a mentor and establish a schedule of activities related to school performance
  • Work with juvenile court to identify opportunities for restitution
  • Possible Out-of-School suspension with recommendation for Expulsion**
  • File charges if law is broken
  • Substantiated instances of staff assault with injury require expulsion
Be Respectful
  • Accept refusals gracefully.
  • Cope with it when the answer is "no."
  • Extortion
Be Responsible
  • Choose the right time to celebrate.
  • Stay out of other people’s property.
  • Obey the laws of the school and neighborhood community.
  • Stealing by Force or Threat
  • Breaking and Entering
  • False Fire Alarms or Bomb Reports/Tampering with Fire Alarm System

*Selections from this list will be made by school officials in a least-restrictive and progressive manner.
** Possession of a firearm requires expulsion. (ORC Ohio Revised Code 3313.66 (B) (3))

Offenses in Category III require a mandatory office referral.

Definition of Terms for Category I Offenses*

Students will receive consequences and corrective instruction when they commit, attempt to commit, aid or abet the commission of, conspire to commit, or participate in any manner even if not completed in any of these offenses.

In most instances, Category I infractions are corrected by the teacher or supervising adult in the setting where the misbehavior occurs. If a pattern of these offenses persists, consultation to set up a corrective plan may be necessary. When there is a high incidence of Category I offenses in a specific setting, administrators will provide, or arrange for, consultation and support to teachers, students or parents/caregivers to assist with creating positive behavior in that setting.

Out of Bounds

Students must stay in designated areas of the school building to which they are enrolled or have been assigned. Students must attend assigned classes and not skip - i.e., not going to an assigned classroom during school hours.

Disobedience

Students are expected to do what school adults tell them to do. School adults include administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, security personnel, custodians, bus drivers, lunchroom workers and school volunteers. Students must not argue with adults. Students are expected to follow all CPS health and safety guidelines.

Students are not expected to obey any directives by an adult that would cause the students harm or are of a sexual nature. A student who feels uncomfortable with an adult’s directive should report the incident to a trusted adult, such as a parent or principal.

Disruptive Behavior

Students are expected to follow schoolwide behavioral expectations and abide by classroom rules, routines and procedures.

Students must not interrupt the learning of others or behave in a manner that causes disruption to the school environment. If a teacher or other school adult is prevented from starting an activity or lesson, or has to stop what he or she is doing to try to stop the student’s behavior, the behavior is considered disruptive. For example, if a student causes a disruption in the classroom by talking, making noises, throwing objects, play fighting, horseplay, or otherwise distracting one or more classmates, the student is engaging in
disruptive behavior.

Inappropriate Communication

Students are expected to speak respectfully to others. Examples of inappropriate communication include put-downs, or making fun of or negatively talking about a person or their family. This includes written, electronic and verbal communication.

False Identification

Students are expected to be honest.

Students must not trick, or cause someone to be tricked, by not telling the truth. Students must not sign or give a name other than their own.

Gambling

Students must not play games of cards, chance or dice for money or other items, except if such games are played at a school-sponsored activity for educational purposes.

Electronic Communication Devices

Electronic communication devices brought to school may be used only in accordance with district and school policies.

Cheating

Students are expected to do their own work. Students must not use, submit or attempt to obtain data or answers dishonestly, by deceit or by means other than those authorized by the teacher. Examples of acts of cheating/plagiarism include any appropriation, literary theft,
falsification, counterfeiting, piracy, fraud or unsupervised possession of any federal-, state- or district-mandated tests. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to, copying word for word from references such as books, magazines, research materials or the Internet. This includes any
violation of the CPS Student Testing Code of Conduct, which may result in disciplinary action and an invalidation of test scores.

*A Category I Offense could be upgraded to a Category II or Category III Offense, depending on the circumstances.

Definition of Terms for Category II Offenses*

Students who commit, attempt to commit, aid or abet the commission of, conspire to commit, or participate in any manner even if not completed in the commission of these offenses are required to participate in activities designed to prevent repetition of the offenses. Teachers or supervising adults may choose corrective strategies for Category II infractions.

Present without Authorization

Students must have permission from a building administrator, or be escorted by a parent/caregiver or emergency contact person, to enter a school building other than their own.

Students must not return to any school while assigned to the Alternative programs, or under expulsion or removal, except with permission from a building administrator and under escort by a parent/caregiver or emergency contact person. During alternative placement, students may not go to any school, or school activity, other than to the school to which they are assigned, except with specific permission and supervision as described in this paragraph.

Leaving without Authorization

Students must not leave school property during the school day without the authorization of a building administrator or being escorted by a parent/caregiver or emergency contact person.

Tobacco/Smoking

Students are expected to protect their own health and safety, and the health and safety of others. Students must not possess, smoke or use any kind of tobacco product or associated paraphernalia including e-cigarettes or
vaping device.

Fighting

Conflicts must be resolved peacefully. Students must not physically fight with another person. Fighting is defined as hitting, pushing, shoving, tripping and other physical acts. Self-defense will be considered in the investigation. During the investigation, the administrator or designee will consider whether physical contact could have been avoided.

Profanity or Obscenity

Students are expected to use appropriate language. Students must not verbally, electronically or by written words, photographs or drawings direct profanity to anyone in the school environment. Students must not insult anyone by obscene gestures.

Stealing or Possession of Stolen Property

Students must use only their own belongings unless explicit permission from the owner is given to borrow an item. Students must not take anything that does not belong to them. Students must not have anything that they know, or have reason to know, has been stolen. Students must not use school-owned or personal equipment to conduct illegal activity.

Gang Activity

Students should associate with peers and adults who engage in safe, respectful and responsible behavior. Students must not participate in gang activity. Gangs are defined as groups of two or more students and/or adults who organize for the purpose of engaging in activities that threaten the safety of the general public, compromise the general community order, and/or interfere with the school district’s educational mission.

Gang activities include:

  1. Wearing or displaying any clothing, jewelry, colors or insignia that intentionally identifies the student as a member of a gang or otherwise symbolizes support of a gang.
  2. Using any word, phrase, written symbol or gesture that intentionally identifies a student as a member of a gang or otherwise symbolizes support of a gang. A student may not display gang affiliation on his or her school notebooks, textbooks or personal items.
  3. Engaging in activity or discussion promoting gangs by two or more persons.
  4. Recruiting students for gangs or anti-social behavior.

Disorderly Conduct

Students must solve problems peacefully. Violence and threats of violence disrupt the learning process. Students must not use violence, or threats of violence, force or bodily harm, against staff, students or property.

Damaging/Destruction of Property

Students must be respectful and take care of school property. Students must not damage, break, destroy or misuse school property or anything that belongs to someone else. Examples of this behavior include writing in school textbooks or library books; ruining bulletin boards; damaging desks or computer equipment such as laptops, tablets and e-readers, including installing or downloading unauthorized/malicious software; intentionally clogging the plumbing system; breaking light bulbs or fixtures; or spray-painting surfaces.

Fireworks

Students must obey the law regarding fireworks. Students must not bring to school or possess, handle, transmit, conceal or use any fireworks (poppers, firecrackers, rockets, sparklers, smoke bombs or other types) while at school.

Sexual Misconduct

Student must respect themselves and the privacy of others. Students must not act or behave in an unacceptable way by touching or making reference to, verbally, electronically or in writing, their private body parts or those of another person. Included in sexual misconduct are actions involving touching of a sexual nature.

Bullying — Harassment — Intimidation

All communication in the school is to be conducted with respect. Students must not use words (written, verbal, electronic), gestures, photographic images, drawings or any form of communication to intimidate, harass, bully or threaten harm to another person based on race, gender, religious beliefs, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Appropriate discussions of these issues, in the classroom or other school settings, are encouraged.

Bullying, harassment or intimidation means any repeated written, verbal, graphic or physical act that a student or group of students exhibit toward another particular student or students, including within a dating relationship, or toward school personnel; and the behavior both:

  1. Causes mental or physical harm to the other students/school personnel including placing an individual in reasonable fear of physical harm and/or damaging of personal property, and
  2. Is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for the other students/school personnel.

CPS' Board policy No. 5517.01, Bullying And Other Forms Of Aggressive Behavior

Depictions of Prohibited Conduct

Students must not make, produce or distribute videos, images, sound recording or other mediums that show behavior prohibited by the Code of Conduct on school property or at school events, including using school-owned or personal electronic devices (i.e., laptops, iPads, tablets, e-readers, cell phones, or video or still cameras). Depictions of such conduct on social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat or any other similar websites are prohibited. Any representations of prohibited behavior must be immediately turned over to the principal or the principal's designee. Reproduction and distribution of these items will result in disciplinary action.

Counterfeit Currency or Documents

Students may use only real United States currency (money). Students cannot use school property or equipment to create, or attempt to create, counterfeit currency or documents. Students must not knowingly possess counterfeit currency.

*A Category II Offense could be upgraded to a Category III Offense, depending on the circumstances.

Definition of Terms for Category III Offenses

The principal will immediately notify CPS' Security when a criminal offense in this category is committed.

Alcohol and Drugs

Students must not bring alcohol or illegal drugs to school or school activities. Students must not use, be under the influence of, or buy or sell alcohol or illegal drugs. This section also applies to any substance made to look like, or represented to be, illegal drugs or alcohol and any related paraphernalia.

Students are permitted to bring prescribed or over-the-counter medication to school only with permission from parents and with the authorization and supervision of their doctor and school administrator or administrator’s designee. Prescribed or over-the-counter medication is for the student’s use only. A student must not sell or give prescribed or over-the-counter medication to anyone at school.

In grades 7-12, with parent's and administrator's permission, a student may keep over-the-counter medication in a secure location and access that medication, if needed, through an administrator’s designee. The medication is to be in the original labeled container with the protective seal intact and stored in a secure location supervised by a staff member (except as provided by student's Health Plan, 504 or IEP.

Physical Assault

Students must get help when needed to solve problems nonviolently. Students must not physically attack another person. Physical assault is considered unprovoked hitting, kicking, shoving, spitting or otherwise causing physical pain or harm to another, except if all involved are engaged in a fight. This includes student-to-student assaults and student-to-staff assaults.

Serious Bodily Injury

Students must not contribute to or cause bodily injury to themselves or others that involves substantial risk of death; extreme physical pain; protracted and obvious disfigurement; or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ or bodily capability.

Dangerous Weapons

Students must keep dangerous objects out of school. Students must not possess, handle, transmit or use as a dangerous weapon an instrument capable of harming another person. Dangerous weapons include but are not limited to:

  1. Knives — Students must not possess, handle, transmit, conceal or use knives. Students violating the prohibition against knives may be assigned to an Alternative to Expulsion (A2E) program for up to one year. 
    NOTE: State law gives the Superintendent the option to expel a student for up to one calendar year for bringing a knife onto school property, into a school vehicle, or to a school-sponsored event.
  2. Defensive Weapons — Students must not possess chemical Mace, pepper gas or like substances; or stun guns/tasers.
  3. Other Items — Students must not possess items such as razors, box cutters, hammers, baseball bats, chains, tattoo paraphernalia, bullets or any other items that can be considered a weapon or can be used as a weapon. School supplies (i.e., compass, scissors, pens, etc.) must not be used as weapons.

Firearms

Students must not possess, handle or transmit, conceal or use firearms. Students violating the firearms prohibition must be expelled in accordance with State and Federal laws (e.g., educated in a placement other than the school of attendance) for one calendar year.

Firearms are any weapon (including starter guns) that will, or are designed to or may readily be converted to, expel a projectile by explosion (gunpowder) including the frame or receiver of any weapon and any firearm mufflers or silencers or any destructive devices (as defined in 18 USCA Section 921), which include any explosives, incendiary or poisonous gas bombs, grenades, rockets having a propellant charge of more than four ounces, missiles having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than four ounces, missiles having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one quarter ounce, mines or devices similar to any of the devices described above.

NOTE: Federal law requires the Superintendent to expel a student for one calendar year if the student brings a gun onto school property, into a school vehicle, or to a school-sponsored event.

Firearm Look-Alikes

Students must not possess, transmit or conceal any item that resembles a firearm. Firearm look-alikes can propel an object or substance with force by spring load or air pressure (i.e., toy guns, cap guns, BB guns, pellet guns).

False Fire Alarms or Bomb Reports/Tampering with Fire Alarm System

Students must obey laws regarding fire safety. Students must not set off fire alarms at any time unless there is an emergency. Destroying or damaging a fire alarm is prohibited. Tampering with the fire alarm means setting off the squeal alarm or the actual alarm when there is not an emergency.

Students must not make bomb threats, or threats of any kind, either verbal or written including over social media, against any school building.

Sexual Assault

Students must protect the safety, and respect the rights, of others. Students must not sexually attack nor sexually abuse another person.

Sexting 

Students are prohibited from engaging in sexting, which means sending sexually explicit images through electronic media, such as text messaging. 

Stealing by Force or Threat 

Students must not take another person's property. Students must not take or attempt to take from another person any property by force or threat of force.

Extortion

Students must accept "no" for an answer when making a request of another person.

Extortion means getting money or a promise by using threat or force. Students must not make people do anything they do not want to do by using threat or force.

Starting a Fire

Students must protect the safety of themselves and others. Students must not start, or help to start, a fire that may harm any person or property. Students must not create, set off, attempt to set off, or possess any type of explosive device.

Breaking and Entering

Students must stay out of locked or private areas. Students must not force their way into places or onto property where they do not belong. Examples of such property include lockers belonging to other students and staff, science labs and supply cabinets.

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