Handbook » OMS Parent Student Handbook - Appendix A

OMS Parent Student Handbook - Appendix A

Overlook Middle School

Parent-Student Handbook

2021-2022

Appendix A

Required Applicable State and Federal Statutes

Massachusetts General Law - Chapter 71: Section 37H3/4.  This section covers suspension or expulsion on grounds other than those set forth in Secs. 37H or 37H1/2

  • Section 37H3/4. 
    • (a) This section shall govern the suspension and expulsion of students enrolled in a public school in the commonwealth who are not charged with a violation of subsections (a) or (b) of section 37H or with a felony under section 37H1/2.
    • (b) Any principal, headmaster, superintendent or other person acting as a decision-maker at a student meeting or hearing, when deciding the consequences for the student, shall exercise discretion; consider ways to re-engage the student in the learning process; and avoid using expulsion as a consequence until other remedies and consequences have been employed.
    • (c) For any suspension or expulsion under this section, the principal or headmaster of a school in which the student is enrolled, or a designee, shall provide, to the student and to the parent or guardian of the student, notice of the charges and the reason for the suspension or expulsion in English and in the primary language spoken in the home of the student. The student shall receive the written notification and shall have the opportunity to meet with the principal or headmaster, or a designee, to discuss the charges and reasons for the suspension or expulsion prior to the suspension or expulsion taking effect. The principal or headmaster, or a designee, shall ensure that the parent or guardian of the student is included in the meeting, provided that such meeting may take place without the parent or guardian only if the principal or headmaster, or a designee, can document reasonable efforts to include the parent or guardian in that meeting. The department shall promulgate rules and regulations that address a principal’s duties under this subsection and procedures for including parents in student exclusion meetings, hearings or interviews under this subsection.
    • (d) If a decision is made to suspend or expel the student after the meeting, the principal or headmaster, or a designee, shall update the notification for the suspension or expulsion to reflect the meeting with the student. If a student has been suspended or expelled for more than 10 school days for a single infraction or for more than 10 school days cumulatively for multiple infractions in any school year, the student and the parent or guardian of the student shall also receive, at the time of the suspension or expulsion decision, written notification of a right to appeal and the process for appealing the suspension or expulsion in English and in the primary language spoken in the home of the student; provided, however, that the suspension or expulsion shall remain in effect prior to any appeal hearing. The principal or headmaster or a designee shall notify the superintendent in writing, including, but not limited to, by electronic means, of any out-of-school suspension imposed on a student enrolled in kindergarten through grade 3 prior to such suspension taking effect. That notification shall describe the student’s alleged misconduct and the reasons for suspending the student out-of-school. For the purposes of this section, the term “out-of-school suspension” shall mean a disciplinary action imposed by school officials to remove a student from participation in school activities for 1 day or more.
    • (e) A student who has been suspended or expelled from school for more than 10 school days for a single infraction or for more than 10 school days cumulatively for multiple infractions in any school year shall have the right to appeal the suspension or expulsion to the superintendent. The student or a parent or guardian of the student shall notify the superintendent in writing of a request for an appeal not later than 5 calendar days following the effective date of the suspension or expulsion; provided, that a student and a parent or guardian of the student may request, and if so requested, shall be granted an extension of up to 7 calendar days. The superintendent or a designee shall hold a hearing with the student and the parent or guardian of the student within 3 school days of the student’s request for an appeal; provided that a student or a parent or guardian of the student may request and, if so requested, shall be granted an extension of up to 7 calendar days; provided further, that the superintendent, or a designee, may proceed with a hearing without a parent or guardian of the student if the superintendent, or a designee, makes a good faith effort to include the parent or guardian. At the hearing, the student shall have the right to present oral and written testimony, cross-examine witnesses and shall have the right to counsel. The superintendent shall render a decision on the appeal in writing within 5 calendar days of the hearing. That decision shall be the final decision of the school district with regard to the suspension or expulsion.
    • (f) No student shall be suspended or expelled from a school or school district for a time period that exceeds 90 school days, beginning the first day the student is removed from an assigned school building.

 

Massachusetts General Law - Chapter 71: Section 37H½. Delinquency complaint against student; suspension; hearing; expulsion upon conviction; appeal.

  • Section 37H ½ Notwithstanding the provisions of section eighty-four and sections sixteen and seventeen of chapter seventy-six:
    • (1) Upon the issuance of a criminal complaint charging a student with a felony or upon the issuance of a felony delinquency complaint against a student, the principal or headmaster of a school in which the student is enrolled may suspend such student for a period of time determined appropriate by said principal or headmaster if said principal or headmaster determines that the student's continued presence in school would have a substantial detrimental effect on the general welfare of the school. The student shall receive written notification of the charges and the reasons for such suspension prior to such suspension taking effect. The student shall also receive written notification of his right to appeal and the process for appealing such suspension; provided, however, that such suspension shall remain in effect prior to any appeal hearing conducted by the superintendent.
      • The student shall have the right to appeal the suspension to the superintendent. The student shall notify the superintendent in writing of his request for an appeal no later than five calendar days following the effective date of the suspension. The superintendent shall hold a hearing with the student and the student's parent or guardian within three calendar days of the student's request for an appeal. At the hearing, the student shall have the right to present oral and written testimony on his behalf, and shall have the right to counsel. The superintendent shall have the authority to overturn or alter the decision of the principal or headmaster, including recommending an alternate educational program for the student. The superintendent shall render a decision on the appeal within five calendar days of the hearing.
      • Such a decision shall be the final decision of the city, town or regional school district with regard to the suspension.
    • (2) Upon a student being convicted of a felony or upon an adjudication or admission in court of guilt with respect to such a felony or felony delinquency, the principal or headmaster of a school in which the student is enrolled may expel said student if such principal or headmaster determines that the student's continued presence in school would have a substantial detrimental effect on the general welfare of the school. The student shall receive written notification of the charges and reasons for such expulsion prior to such expulsion taking effect. The student shall also receive written notification of his right to appeal and the process for appealing such expulsion; provided, however, that the expulsion shall remain in effect prior to any appeal hearing conducted by the superintendent.
      • The student shall have the right to appeal the expulsion to the superintendent. The student shall notify the superintendent, in writing, of his request for an appeal no later than five calendar days following the effective date of the expulsion. The superintendent shall hold a hearing with the student and the student's parent or guardian within three calendar days of the expulsion. At the hearing, the student shall have the right to present oral and written testimony on his behalf, and shall have the right to counsel. The superintendent shall have the authority to overturn or alter the decision of the principal or headmaster, including recommending an alternate educational program for the student. The superintendent shall render a decision on the appeal within five calendar days of the hearing. Such a decision shall be the final decision of the city, town or regional school district with regard to the expulsion.
      • Upon expulsion of such a student, no school or school district shall be required to provide educational services to such student.
      •  

Massachusetts General Law - Chapter 71: Section 37H

  • (a) Any student who is found on school premises or at school-sponsored or school-related events, including athletic games, in possession of a dangerous weapon, including, but not limited to, a gun or a knife; or a controlled substance as defined in chapter ninety-four C, including, but not limited to, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, may be subject to expulsion from the school or school district by the principal.
  • (b) Any student who assaults a principal, assistant principal, teacher, teacher's aide or other educational staff on school premises or at school-sponsored or school-related events, including athletic games, may be subject to expulsion from the school or school district by the principal.
  • (c) Any student who is charged with a violation of either paragraph (a) or (b) shall be notified in writing of an opportunity for a hearing; provided, however, that the student may have representation, along with the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses at said hearing before the principal. After said hearing, a principal may, in his discretion, decide to suspend rather than expel a student who has been determined by the principal to have violated either paragraph (a) or (b).
  • (d) Any student who has been expelled from a school district pursuant to these provisions shall have the right to appeal to the superintendent. The expelled student shall have ten days from the date of the expulsion in which to notify the superintendent of his appeal. The student has the right to counsel at a hearing before the superintendent. The subject matter of the appeal shall not be limited solely to a factual determination of whether the student has violated any provisions of this section.
  • (e) When a student is expelled under the provisions of this section, no school or school district within the commonwealth shall be required to admit such student or to provide educational services to said student. If said student does apply for admission to another school or school district, the superintendent of the school district to which the application is made may request and shall receive from the superintendent of the school expelling said student a written statement of the reasons for said expulsion.

 

Massachusetts General Laws -- Chapter 269

Hazing as described by Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 269, Section 17 is prohibited.  Participants will be suspended from school for 5 school days.  Organizers of the incident will be suspended for 10 school days.  All such incidents will be reported to law enforcement authorities for further action.

 

  • Chapter 269: Section 17. Hazing; organizing or participating; hazing defined.
    • Whoever is a principal organizer or participant in the crime of hazing, as defined herein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than three thousand dollars or by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than one year, or both such fine and imprisonment.
    • The term "hazing" as used in this section and in sections eighteen and nineteen, shall mean any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or any other person. Such conduct shall include whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage or drug or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any such student or other person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep or rest or extended isolation.
    • Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section to the contrary, consent shall not be available as a defense to any prosecution under this action.

 

  • Chapter 269: Section 18. Failure to report hazing.
    • Whoever knows that another person is the victim of hazing as defined in section seventeen and is at the scene of such crime shall, to the extent that such person can do so without danger or peril to himself or others, report such crime to an appropriate law enforcement official as soon as reasonably practicable. Whoever fails to report such crime shall be punished by a fine or not more than one thousand dollars.

 

  • Chapter 269: Section 19. Copy of secs. 17--19; issuance to students and student groups, teams and organizations; report.
    • Each institution of secondary education and each public and private institution of post secondary education shall issue to every student group, student team or student organization which is part of such institution or is recognized by the institution or permitted by the institution to use its name or facilities or is known by the institution to exist as an unaffiliated student group, student team or student organization, a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen; provided, however, that an institution’s compliance with this section’s requirements that an institution issue copies of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen to unaffiliated student groups, teams or organizations shall not constitute evidence of the institution’s recognition or endorsement of said unaffiliated student groups, teams or organizations.
    • Each such group, team or organization shall distribute a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen to each of its members, plebes, pledges or applicants for membership. It shall be the duty of each such group, team or organization, acting through its designated officer, to deliver annually, to the institution an attested acknowledgement stating that such group, team or organization has received a copy of this section and said sections seventeen and eighteen, that each of it members, plebes, pledges or applicants has received a copy of sections seventeen and eighteen, and that such group, team or organization understands and agrees to comply with the provisions of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen.
    • Each institution of secondary education and each public or private institution of post secondary education shall, at least annually, before or at the start of enrollment, deliver to each person who enrolls as a full time student in such institution a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen.
    • Each institution of secondary education and each public or private institution of post secondary education shall file, at least annually, a report with the regents of higher education and in the case of secondary schools, the board of education, certifying that such institution has complied with its responsibility to inform student groups, teams, or organizations and to notify each full time student enrolled by it of the provisions of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen and also certifying that said institution has adopted a disciplinary policy with regard to the organizers and participants of hazing, and that such policy has been set forth with appropriate emphasis in the student handbook or similar means of communicating the institution's policies to its students. The board of regents and, in the case of secondary institution, the board of education shall promulgate regulations governing the content and frequency of such reports, and shall forthwith report to the attorney general any such institution which fails to make such report.

 

An Act Providing For Drug Free Schools

Effective July 1, 1989, anyone convicted of dealing drugs within 1000 feet of an elementary, vocational or secondary school will face a two-year mandatory prison sentence. It will not matter whether the dealer knew he/she was near a school, whether it is a public or private school or in session at the time of the offense. The law will pertain to drug distributors, manufacturers or persons possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute it. A fine of up to $10,000.00 may also be imposed but not in lieu of the two-year term of imprisonment.

 

Massachusetts General Law - Chapter 76: Section 5

Approved by School Committee Vote January 9, 1996

Every person shall have a right to attend the public schools of the town where he actually resides, subject to the following section. No person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public school on account of race, color, national background, religion, sex, gender identity, disability, economic status, political party, age, handicap, sexual orientation, homelessness and other human differences.

 

Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 76, Section 5

Approved by School Committee Vote May 7, 2013

The Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District’s Policy of non-discrimination will extent to students, staff and the general public and with who it does business; and will apply to race, color, national background, religion, sex, gender identity, disability, economic status, political party, age, handicap, sexual orientation, homelessness and other human differences.

 

The Ashburnham Westminster Regional School District and Overlook Middle School comply with the following state and federal laws:

  •   Title I of the American Disabilities Act: Prohibits discrimination, exclusion from participation, and denial of benefits on the basis of disability in the areas of employment 
  •   Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: Prohibits discrimination, exclusion from participation, and denial of benefits on the basis of disability in the areas educational programming and activities 
  •   Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Prohibits discrimination, exclusion from participation, and denial of benefits based on race, color, and national origin
  •   Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972: Prohibits discrimination, exclusion from participation, and denial of benefits in educational programs based on sex Recent landmark pieces of legislation, Chapter 622 of the 1972  Education Amendment, are laws prohibiting discrimination. These are based on the sound premise that in a knowledge-based society, equal opportunities in education are fundamental to equality in all other forms of human endeavor. It is the policy of Overlook Middle School not to discriminate on the basis of sex, color, race, religion, handicap or national origin as in accordance with Chapter 622 of the Massachusetts General Laws, Title IX, of the 1972 Education Amendment 
  •   Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Prohibits discrimination, exclusion from participation, and denial of benefits based on disability 
  •   Mass. General Laws, Chapter 76, Section 5: Prohibits discrimination in all public schools on the basis of race, color, national background, religion, sex, gender identity, disability, economic status, political party, age, handicap, sexual orientation, homelessness and other human differences
  • Mass. General Laws, Chapter 265, Section 37: No person whether or not acting under the color of the law, shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, or interfere with, or oppress or threaten any other person in the   free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the constitution or laws of the Commonwealth or by the constitution or laws of the United States. 
  •   Mass. General Laws, Chapter 71A: The Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School Committee requires that all teachers, professional staff, and  paraprofessional staff demonstrate English language fluency and literacy in classrooms where English is the language of instruction.

 

OBSERVATION OF EDUCATION PROGRAMS BY PARENTS AND THEIR DESIGNEES FOR EVALUATION PURPOSES 

The legislature amended section 3 of M.G.L. c. 71B, the state special education law, to require school committees, upon request by a parent, to grant timely and sufficient access by parents and parent-designated independent evaluators and educational consultants (both of whom are referred to in this guidance as "designees") to a child's current and proposed special education program so that the parent and named designees can observe the child in the current program and any proposed program. 

 

Ashburnham-Westminster and parents and their designees have successfully collaborated to achieve timely and sufficient access to programs for observations that have helped parents and their designees better understand the school programs that serve students with disabilities. Parents should request the observation in writing by providing the name of the child or program to be observed, the name(s) of the observer(s) and contact information. No specific form is required. Observations are not intended as an opportunity to speak to or interact with staff or students (including the child specifically being observed). 

 

If the request is from a parent designee and the school has no prior consent to share information with the designee, the school will confirm with the parent that the designee is acting on his or her behalf. If the designee will review the student's records, as is often the case, the school must obtain written permission from the parent for the record review consistent with section 23.07(4) of the Student Records Regulations.

 

The timely access requirement does not mean that a school district must allow observations on demand, or that parents or designees may unilaterally set a schedule for observations. Principals may take a reasonable period of time to inform school staff and plan the logistical aspects of an observation. Typically, a minimum of 48 hours notice is required. However, the principal may require additional time due to building or staffing needs. Additionally, certain periods of the year, such as during MCAS testing in the child's classroom or the first or last couple of weeks of school, have been designated as times in which observations are not generally scheduled. 

 

The school will permit access to programs that are of "sufficient duration and extent" to accomplish the purpose of the visit, i.e., evaluation of the child's progress in the current program and/or the proposed program's ability to allow the child to make adequate progress. The school may limit the frequency of such observations. While on occasion more than one observation may be warranted per school year, the principal will approve additional observations based upon the stated purpose of the additional observation. Except under extraordinary circumstances, as determined by the principal, no more than four observations will be allowed per student per year in order to protect the integrity of the program during observations. 

Parents and designees are generally knowledgeable about and sensitive to issues of student confidentiality and privacy. While this is so, the district will inform observers that in the event that they obtain personally identifiable or confidential information during the course of an evaluation/observation, they will not disclose it (except when it is the information of the student being evaluated, in which case it will be used consistent with the parent's authority and direction). 

 

The observation law states that districts may not condition or restrict program observations except when necessary to protect: 

  • the safety of the children in the program during the observation; 
  • the integrity of the program during the observation; and 
  • children in the program from disclosure by an observer of confidential or personally identifiable information he or she may obtain while observing the program. 

 

Principals may exercise their discretion at any time to reschedule or terminate an observation in the event of a building emergency or a disruption that impacts the physical or emotional well-being of the children in the school or the program being observed.

 

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Eligible parties may peruse any records kept on students at Overlook at any time. There is nothing in the permanent or temporary record, which would not or could not have already been seen by a parent/guardian or student. These records include report cards, midterm reports, letters of commendation, attendance, health records, etc. Upon graduation or leaving Overlook, students may obtain a copy of any record pertaining to said student. 

 

Students are requested to sign a statement, which allows Overlook to maintain information in their folders, which could be of value to the student in the future, beyond the five-year limit of this act. Without this permission, school activities, health records, MCAS scores, etc. could not be kept. Whenever a party feels the records are inaccurate that party may, in writing, add their version of the inaccuracy to the record. Additional information regarding these state regulations may be obtained from the Counseling Office.

 

Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)

(Management plan notification in accordance with AHERA regulations 40 CFR 763)

The Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District must notify building users, in writing, that the AHERA Management Plans of each school will be available for review in the office of the Head Custodian between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. Monday through Friday by appointment.

 

MIAA Regulations: Taunting Rule

Taunting includes any actions or comments by coaches, players, or spectators which are intended to bait, anger, embarrass, ridicule, or demean others, whether or not the deeds or words are vulgar or racist. Included is conduct that berates, needles, intimidates, or threatens based on race, gender, ethnic origin, or background, and conduct that attacks religious beliefs, size, economic status, speech, family, special needs, or personal matters.

Examples of taunting include but are not limited to: "trash talk ", defined as verbal communication of a personal nature directed by a competitor to an opponent by ridiculing his/her skills, efforts, sexual orientation, or lack of success, which is likely to provoke an altercation or physical response; and physical intimidation outside the spirit of the game, including " in the face " confrontation by one player to another and standing over/straddling a tackled or fallen player.

In all sports, officials are to consider taunting a flagrant unsportsmanlike foul that disqualifies the offending bench personnel or contestant from that contest/day of competition. In addition, the offender shall be subject to existing MIAA Expulsion Rules. A warning shall be given to both teams by game officials prior to the contest.

At all MIAA contest sites and tournament venues, appropriate management may give spectators one warning for taunting. Thereafter, spectators who taunt players, coaches, game officials, or other spectators are subject to ejection.