Discipline, Suspensions and Expulsions

Note: This information is from our manual, Discipline in Public Schools.

3 Key Things to Know about Student Discipline in Washington State

  1. Students and their families have a right to due process when a student faces discipline – that means a right to notice and an opportunity to be heard;
  2. Schools are encouraged to limit out of school suspensions and expulsions, and can only use long-term suspensions and expulsions for certain serious behaviors.
  3. All students have the right to continue receiving educational services during any suspension or expulsion.

The Right to an Education

Every student living in Washington State has a right to access a free public education. The right to an education continues even if a student makes a mistake, breaks a rule, or is suspended or expelled. Students can learn from mistakes, and they can do their best learning when they are supported by trusted adults.

Ideally, school discipline will:

  • respond to the needs and strengths of students;
  • support students in meeting the school’s behavior expectations; and
  • keep students in classrooms as much as possible.

Schools must keep families informed and involved when discipline issues arise. Schools must also make sure that discipline rules are applied fairly, and address disparities in discipline. 

This web page gives information and ideas about how to support individual students facing discipline.  It also shares ideas for working with your school community to reduce disparities and improve discipline practices overall.

We hope this web page will help answer many questions about student discipline, but it won’t answer them all. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our office if you have any questions or concerns relating to student discipline in Washington’s k-12 public schools. You can find us online at www.oeo.wa.gov, or by email at oeoinfo@gov.wa.gov, or by phone at 1-866-297-2597.

Our office is one place to contact for information and support on student discipline. You can also reach out to your school district, and to the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, or “OSPI.” OSPI is our state’s education agency that is responsible for developing the state rules on student discipline. OSPI has created resources for families and educators to help understand recent changes to student discipline rules. You can find those resources, and contact information for OSPI’s student discipline program staff on OSPI’s website at: https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/support-programs/student-discipline.

Click on the links below to read more: