Education Law

What Kinds of Punishment Can a School Give My Child?

By E.A. Gjelten, Author and Editor
Schools can impose a wide range of discipline for students’ misconduct.

When students break the rules, schools have a fair amount of discretion in handing down punishment. The most common types of punishment include:

  • loss of privileges, such as participation in school sports or other extracurricular activities
  • service in the school or community
  • detention (when student is assigned to a special classroom during lunch, after school, or on Saturdays)
  • exclusion from a particular class
  • in-school suspension (when the student is removed from all regular classes but stays on campus in a separate room)
  • out-of-school suspension (when the student is removed from school from a few days to several months), and
  • expulsion from the school.
In most states, teachers and other school officials aren't allowed to hit or spank children as a form of discipline. (For more details, see our article on corporal punishment in schools.)

If your child has engaged in conduct that could be criminal, the school may also refer the matter to law enforcement. Or, if local police officers are assigned to the campus, they may decide to take action on their own. Either way, your child could face charges in juvenile court. If there’s any chance of that happening, you should talk to an attorney immediately, before your child speaks to anyone about the incident (including school officials or law enforcement officers working on campus).

Go to main School Discipline FAQ page.

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