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Urban Lawyer

Charting School Discipline

by Kerrin Wolf, Mary Kate Kalinich, and Susan L. DeJarnatt
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Kerrin C. Wolf is an Assistant Professor of Public Law at Stockton University, and completed a J.D. at the William and Mary Law School and a Ph.D. at the University of Delaware School of Public Policy and Administration.

Mary Kate Kalinich, J.D. Temple University Beasley School of Law, is a 2015 graduate and now an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Greenberg Traurig with the Women Against Abuse Legal Center. During law school, she played a leadership role in the School Discipline Advocacy Service.

Susan L. DeJarnatt
is a Professor of Law at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, and completed a J.D. at Temple Law School.

We would like to thank David Lapp and Martha Carey for helpful comments on this project. We also recognize and thank the members of the School Discipline Advocacy Service, a student-created and run organization founded by Temple law students to provide representation to K-12 students in Philadelphia’s traditional public and charter schools who are facing suspension and expulsion. SDAS’s work helped inspire this project.

I.   Introduction

The "school-to-prision pipeline" has become a widely used term to identify the ways that exclusionary school discipline can steer students away from educational opportunities and towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The pipeline has been described as “a confluence of two child-and adolescent-caring systems — schools and juvenile courts — that simultaneously shifted over the past generation from rehabilitative to punitive paradigms.”1 A key aspect of this shift is an increasing reliance on exclusionary school discipline practices, including suspensions, expulsion, and arrests.

As many public school systems have turned to exclusionary school discipline practices over the past two decades, they have also increasingly adopted charter schools as alternatives to traditional public schools. The charter school model is favored by the United States Department of Education under Arne Duncan.2 Despite greater public and scholarly attention to these two issues, there is a dearth of examination of the role of charter school disciplinary practices and their potential effects on charter school students.3 This is the case even though charter schools have become prominent features of many urban school systems, which also seek to educate student populations that are most at risk for falling into the school-to-prison pipeline. This research is an initial attempt to begin filling that gap4 by examining the student codes of conduct for the charter schools in the School District of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is a valuable site for this initial research because of its heavy reliance on a wide array of charter schools. In Philadelphia, students wishing to attend public school have two choices: traditional public schools5 or charter schools.6 Charter schools are schools that operate as independent public alternatives to traditional public schools.7 They receive state funding but also are allowed to raise money through fundraising and private endowments.8 Although their main, and for some schools their only, revenue stream is public funds, they are run by private boards of directors.9 Philadelphia is ranked third in the nation for the number of students enrolled in charter schools with roughly 62,000 students enrolled in charters.10

Pennsylvania charter school law allows charters to operate free from many of the local and state requirements applied to traditional public schools.11 This freedom is supposed to lead to charter school autonomy, allowing them to experiment with varying education models. This autonomy extends to charter schools’ discipline policies, where charter schools are bound by relatively minimal regulation and oversight.12 Importantly, there is some evidence that this relative freedom has allowed some charter schools to utilize the discipline policies to exclude students from school for relatively minor infractions.13

In order to gain a better understanding of how charter schools in Philadelphia are approaching school discipline, we analyzed every disciplinary code provided to the Philadelphia School District by charter schools within Philadelphia during the 2014 - 2015 school year. Our goal was to examine the provisions relating to detention, suspension, and expulsion, along with other disciplinary responses, to determine what conduct can result in disciplinary consequences, what responses are available for various types of misbehavior, and whether the code language is clear or ambiguous or even accessible to students or potential students and their parents or caregivers.

In order to contextualize this research, we provide discussions of charter schools and school discipline, before explaining our methodology and results. Specifically, the following section of this paper reviews charter schools nationally and then specifically focuses on Philadelphia. Part III reviews the literature on school discipline and the impact of exclusionary school discipline on student behavior and academic progress. Part IV provides the methodology and results of our analysis of the disciplinary codes provided by Philadelphia charter schools to the Philadelphia School District, including our descriptive analysis of particular provisions in many of the codes that raise questions about fairness and equity. We conclude that too many of the codes are not well drafted, and too many follow models of punitive discipline that can be used to push out non-compliant or challenging students. Some codes grant almost complete discretion to school administrators to impose punitive discipline for any behavior the administrator deems problematic.14 This research raises significant concerns about the disciplinary practices of charter schools in Philadelphia and provides a basis for future research to address the critical issues raised by charter school disciplinary practices, including the potential for discriminatory application of policies and the role of school discipline in pushing certain students out of charter schools.15 We hope that this work will spur future research (and accompanying data gathering efforts) that will analyze the implementation of charter school discipline policies to illustrate how charter schools are using their codes. Further, we hope to see the charter sector develop model disciplinary codes that move away from a zero tolerance punitive model towards disciplinary systems based on restorative principles.

II.  An Introduction to Charter Schools

Charter school supporters offer the following definition:

A charter school is an independently run public school granted greater flexibility in its operations, in return for greater accountability for performance. The ‘charter’ establishing each school is a performance contract detailing the school’s mission, program, students served, performance goals, and methods of assessment.16

Charters are considered “public” schools because they receive public funding and are open to all students who reside in a district, at least in theory.17 But charters are also “private” because they are operated by private boards of directors under a charter agreement with the charter authorizer.18 Charters are now operating in forty-two states under a variety of charter laws.19 Some states, including Pennsylvania, require that charters be non-profit; others allow for-profit charters.20 Even in Pennsylvania, the non-profit charter school may enter into a management contract with a for-profit entity that effectively runs the school.21 In response to the growth of charter schools, a cottage industry of nonprofit corporations and for-profit businesses has emerged to service this growing market.22

As public institutions, charters are supposed to provide equal and fair access to all residents of the district where the charter is located.23 Yet, they differ in their enrollment processes from traditional public schools that must be available to all students, with rare exceptions for students expelled for serious offenses.24 Essentially, traditional public schools must accept any student who resides in their catchments. Conversely, students must complete an application process to attend charter schools, with many charter schools choosing their students through a lottery system when more students apply than the school can accommodate.25

Charter schools were aptly described as the “kudzu of school choice” by Michael Heise and James Ryan, reflecting the model’s rapid expansion within the public education systems of the United States.26 The charter idea is sometimes credited to Albert Shanker, long time and controversial head of the American Federation of Teachers who promoted the idea as a way to allow and promote teacher-directed experimentation within the public sector.27 Charters would be able to develop new organizational and pedagogical approaches which could then be implemented in the public school system as a whole.28 Pennsylvania’s charter law embodies this idea in explicitly requiring evaluation of charter applicants based on “the extent to which the [proposed] charter school may serve as a model for other public schools. . . ”29

The first charter school law in the country, however, reflected a market model, rather than Shanker’s vision of innovation within the public system.30 The model theory has receded in importance as the theory that competition will lead to improvement has taken hold.31 Charters are now widely promoted as a means of offering school choice, which, as the theory goes, will force traditional public schools to improve in order to meet the competition.32 Charters are also presented as more nimble: free from regulation in exchange for greater accountability.33

Under either main theory — model or market — it is important to ex- amine the role that discipline plays in the charter sector. Under the model theory, charters are expected to experiment, to be inventive in taking new approaches to education and pedagogy, including new approaches to discipline, one would presume. But if charters are to effectively function as models for the traditional schools, then it matters whether the proffered model is one that can be replicated or scaled up. If a particular discipline system is dependent on a very small school community where matters can be resolved by whole group consensus, that model will be difficult, if not impossible, to implement in a more traditional, larger, school community. If a charter implements an extremely rigorous disciplinary code that controls all aspects of student behavior — a more common scenario than the consensus example — that model still presents challenges. A model of extremely strict discipline and virtually total administrative autonomy cannot effectively serve as a model for traditional schools that serve all comers, including those who may, on occasion, fold their arms defiantly, curse, or otherwise show disrespect.34

Under the market theory, schools compete and are most often compared to each other based on their standardized test scores.35 They also compete based on their appeal to parents; however, knowledge available to parents can vary substantially.36 Discipline should be an important consideration for parents and students in choosing a school. Hence it matters whether the codes are available to parents and students when they are evaluating schools. It is essential that parents and students have access to the disciplinary code when they are making their choices about whether to apply to a particular school.37 And it is essential that the codes be written in language that parents and students can read and understand, particularly if they are not native English speakers.38

The test-based comparisons create more complexity and pressure on schools to take measures to improve their test scores.39 If a particular school’s disciplinary code empowers the school to exclude troublesome students for minor or ill-defined offenses, that power can be used to oust students who may have weaker test scores or may be seen as taking too much attention away from other students. Scholars and policy makers do need to consider the role of disciplinary codes and their relationship to test results. Because the traditional public schools must absorb the students who are excluded from charters, the role of discipline matters to any fair comparison of the two sectors.

A.  Charter School Growth and Efficacy

Nationally, charter enrollment has continued to grow since the Minnesota beginnings back in 1991, spurred on by market-based education reformers and the federal Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan.40 The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools pegs national enrollment growing from 1.29 million in 2007 – 2008 to 2.57 million students in 2013 – 2014.41

Given the rapid growth of charter schools, it is essential to understand whether charter schools effectively educate their students. However, the answer to the query is unsettled and complex. Some researchers assert that charters overall or particular charter models have better results than traditional public schools.42 Other researchers have contested those results and have reached very different conclusions as to the efficacy of the model.43 While certain charter schools are considered to be particularly effective, others have failed, and others seem no different from the traditional schools that they were supposed provide an alternative to. Given the extreme variety in charter school models, charter school organizers/ administrators, student bodies, and lengths of existence, it is no surprise that their results vary. However, this variety makes it quite difficult to conclude firmly whether charter schools have bene- fitted the American education system overall. Given the relative infancy of this trend and its explosive growth, it may be some time before we have a complete understanding of the charter school movement’s impact. As research related to this question unfolds, researchers need to carefully consider the potential effects of exclusionary discipline and how the employment of exclusionary practices could affect the demo- graphics and test scores of the schools they study.

B.  Charter Schools in Philadelphia

Pennsylvania and the School District of Philadelphia are primary players in the growth of charter schools. Charter growth in Pennsylvania has mirrored the national experience. Charter school enrollment in Pennsylvania has expanded from 18,694 students in 2000 – 2001 to 67,121 in 2007 – 2008.44 At the end of 2014, there were 149 bricks and mortar charter schools, 14 cyber charter schools, and 10 regional charter schools in Pennsylvania with a total enrollment of 129,451.45 

Charters have exploded in Philadelphia as well. In 1998, there were four charter schools in Philadelphia; in 2008, there were 60 enrolling approximately 30,000 students.46 As of the 2014 – 2015 academic year, 86 charter schools operated in Philadelphia, comprising 65 traditional charters and 21 “turnaround” charters under the District’s Renaissance program.47 These charter schools enroll more than 67,000 students.48

Thus, charter schools now are a primary option for many students in Philadelphia. A student residing in Philadelphia is entitled to enroll in her neighborhood catchment school.49 In addition to neighborhood schools, Philadelphia offers a number of school options that require a special application process, including academic magnet schools like Masterman, Carver and Central; and special focus schools like Saul (agricultural studies), and Constitution High.50 Their other option is to apply for enrollment in a charter school, where their admission is dependent on meeting the admissions requirements (which are primarily procedural) and being selected through the school’s lottery if the school has more students apply than can be enrolled. Thus, while a student is effectively automatically enrolled in his or her neighborhood school, enrollment in charter schools requires a sometimes burdensome application process and success in a lottery. Importantly, charter schools’ lotteries must be available to all students in the grade ranges that each school serves, as long as the students complete the application process in a timely manner.

Both traditional public schools and charters in Philadelphia, along with their teachers and students, are subject to evaluation by rubrics that rely heavily on standardized test scores.51 School climate also plays a role in the District rubric.52 Philadelphia public schools, both charter and traditional, receive a School Progress Report (SPR) from the School District and a School Performance Profile (SPP) from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The SPRs are heavily weighted towards achievement and growth in the students’ performance on high stakes tests though a smaller portion of the ranking does consider climate issues.53 The SPPs also rely heavily on standardized test scores though the calculation also includes points for graduation rate, attendance, and promotion rate.54

The admission processes and evaluation of charter schools in Philadelphia make their discipline policies particularly important. Because charters are required to make their seats available to all students in the District, they should enroll both high achieving and students who struggle academically and behaviorally. They should find ways to successfully educate or otherwise address students who may affect the schools’ performance measures. Discipline can play a direct and an in- direct role in schools’ rankings on the rubric. For the SPRs, the impact is direct as school culture is an item that is specifically rated. Indirectly, the emphasis in both rubrics used by the District on standardized test scores can put pressure on schools to find ways to get rid of students who are not good test performers. A stringent discipline process with unconstrained discretion can enable a school to weed out such students.

While Philadelphia charter schools are free to craft their own codes of conduct, they are not free from all regulations.55 There were 86 charter schools operating in Philadelphia in the 2014-2015 academic year.56 Charter schools must abide by Title 22, Chapter 12 of the Pennsylvania Code which outlines student rights and responsibilities.57 Chapter 12.6 lays out rules regarding student exclusion from school.58 This rule states that a suspension is a one to ten day consecutive exclusion from school.59 If a student is handed a suspension that exceeds three school days, the student and the parent or guardian are entitled to an informal hearing.60

An informal hearing normally takes place with the parent, student, and a school administrator.61 The student and the parent must receive written notification of the reasons for suspension and sufficient advance notice of the time and place of the hearing.62 An informal hearing must be held within 5 days of the suspension.63 Any exclusion from school for a period of more than ten days is an expulsion.64 Expulsions require a formal hearing.65 Parents and students must have received written notice of the hearing at least three days in advance.66 Unless a student is considered a “threat,” she is to remain in class until the formal hearing.67 Traditional public schools hold their expulsion hearings at the central Philadelphia School District building.68 Because charter schools are independent public schools, each holds its expulsion hearings at its own school and requires a board vote to expel the student.69

Even though charter schools are required to comply with these regulations, they are not required to adopt the Philadelphia School District’s code of conduct.70 They have wide discretion to craft their own student codes of conduct that promote their own unique school cultures.71 They have freedom to adopt punitive, control oriented discipline policies that seek to punish students when they misbehave, or more therapeutic, service oriented policies that seek to address underlying causes of misbehavior, or other discipline models. Importantly, there is a growing body of research that examines the efficacy of various types of school discipline policies.

III.  School Discipline in America’s Public Schools

At the same time charter schools were becoming popular among school districts across the country, the manner in which most public schools approached student discipline also underwent a transformation. While exclusionary punishments, such as suspensions, expulsions and referrals to the police, have long been used by schools to discipline misbehaving students, they became much more prominent beginning in the early 1990s.72 At this time, combatting juvenile drug use and violence emerged as a policy priority, including addressing these problems in schools. U.S. crime rates, including juvenile crime rates, rose during the 1980s and peaked early in the 1990s, fueling this policy focus.73 Policy makers at all levels of government responded to these concerns, giving rise to the punitive era in school discipline.

At the federal level, two prominent pieces of legislation were passed to specifically address the concern over delinquency in schools. The Gun Free Schools Act of 199474 focused on removing weapons from school and included among its provisions a requirement that schools expel students found in possession of weapons on school property. States and local school districts embraced this approach to student misbehavior and began applying expulsions and (much more commonly) suspensions to a wide range of student misbehavior, including drug possession, disorderly conduct, and relatively minor acts of interpersonal violence.75 These policies often were called “zero tolerance” approaches because they made these punishments mandatory regardless of any mitigating circumstances that might have contributed to or explained the student’s behavior.76

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 199477 made significant federal funding available to schools for enhanced security, including the hiring of school resource officers, who are trained police officers stationed in high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools. Along with school resource officers, many school districts enhanced their security systems by installing security cameras, developing highly regulated procedures for entering and moving about school campuses, requiring school uniforms, and installing metal detectors.78

The reliance on punitive discipline and heightened security measures increased following several prominent school shootings, including the one at Columbine High School in Colorado. By the turn of the twenty-first century, urban, suburban, and rural public schools throughout the country had turned to these measures to keep drugs out of schools, to keep students in line, and to prevent various forms of violence, including active shooter events.79

According to several scholars, the increased reliance on exclusionary school discipline and heightened security measures had the effect of “criminalizing” public school students.80 They see strict punishments, armed police officers, security cameras and other new features of public schools in America as remarkably akin to the systems and technologies used in the justice systems to control and punish offenders.

Predictably, the use of exclusionary school discipline practices increased significantly during the 1990s and early 2000s.81 Not only did a wide array of behaviors give rise to exclusionary discipline responses, the heightened security measures also meant that students were more likely to be caught misbehaving and had a longer list of rules that they were expected to follow.82 Recent evaluations indicate that there are more than three million suspensions83 and 90,000 student arrests84 each school year. Just as a more punitive age of criminal justice led to an oversized prison population in the United States, the punitive age of school discipline led to remarkably high occurrences of student suspensions and arrests.

Evidence continues to build that schools’ increased reliance on exclusionary school discipline has impeded students’ learning and ability to desist from criminal behavior, and ultimately threatens their long-term well-being. As discussed above, the school-to-prison pipeline is a term that attempts to capture the negative effects that exclusionary school discipline can have on students. In short, disciplinary responses such as suspension and expulsions put students at greater risk for school failure and criminal involvement, while arrests for misbehavior in school provide a direct link to the justice systems.

There are several potential explanations for the pipeline phenomenon.85 First, students who are excluded from school, even for short periods of time, may struggle academically because they fall behind their classmates.86 This can have a compounding effect, particularly in subjects in which concepts build off one another.87 Second, receiving a harsh punishment may also lead students to disengage from their school community, particularly if they feel the punishment was unfair.88 Third, punished students may become “labeled” when they are excluded from the classroom for misbehavior, which can lead teachers and classmates to expect them to misbehave in the future, and may also lead those students to accept and carry out those expectations.89 Importantly, academic failure is a consistent predictor of criminal involvement.90 So, to the extent that exclusionary school punishment has any of these academic effects on punished students, it also may propel them towards justice system involvement.

An established body of social science documents the many facets of the school-to-prison pipeline. Studies by Raffael-Mendez,91 Fabelo et al.,92 and Suh and Suh93 demonstrate a correlation between being sus- pended and later academic struggles. Similarly, Sweeten found that juvenile justice contact also made it more likely that students would drop out of school,94 while Hirshfield found that simply being arrested made student drop out more likely.95 Thus, during school-aged years, there appears to be a reciprocal relationship between exclusionary school discipline, academic failure, and justice system contact.

There is also evidence that the effects of exclusionary school discipline follow students into adulthood. First, the link between academic failure and incarceration is well established.96 An analysis of three distinct national data sets revealed that each set of data indicated that the more education a person attains, the less likely they are to be involved in crime as an adult.97

So, to the extent exclusionary school discipline and academic struggles are connected, it is reasonable to view excluded students as at higher risk for incarceration. Second, a recent study demonstrated that students who experience suspensions during middle or high school are more likely to be involved in crime, to be incarcerated, and even to be crime victims when they are adults.98 The study controlled for a wide variety of variables, including delinquent tendencies, race, and family structure, that might explain this relationship.99

In addition to potentially causing long term harm to punished students, research suggests that schools with harsh disciplinary regimes can deteriorate school climates because they breed antagonistic relationships between students and school personnel.100 Likewise, schools in which students feel they are treated fairly are more likely to have positive school climates.101 Thus, while removing misbehaving students from school may seem like a logical way to suppress misbehavior, zero tolerance policies and similar approaches to school discipline and security can lead to worse outcomes for students and school communities.

In the face of mounting evidence of the harms of exclusionary school discipline, evidence-based alternatives have emerged. Some schools and school districts across the country are turning to these alternative methods, including positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), and restorative justice practices, with encouraging results.102 PBIS is a systematic approach that uses a three-tiered set of responses to student behavior, with increasingly comprehensive support services and responses offered to students who repeatedly misbehave.103 This includes positive reinforcement for positive student behavior, and social, behavioral, and academic services for misbehaving students.104 Evaluations of this approach have revealed promising results for schools and misbehaving students alike.105

Restorative justice is another response to student misbehavior that has been shown to be effective in schools.106 Restorative justice seeks to build relationships between misbehaving students and anyone they may have affected when they misbehaved, including asking them to repair any harm that has been done.107 It has been found to reduce the effects of misbehavior on victims and contribute to more positive school communities.108

Thus, while exclusionary school discipline practices are the traditional approach to controlling student misbehavior, and have been employed at an increased rate since the early 1990s, there are viable alternatives available to public schools.

IV.  Charter School Discipline

While there has been a great deal of scholarly attention paid to charter schools and to school discipline practices in their own right, very little scholarly investigation of charter school discipline practices has occurred. Advocates and the media have paid this issue some attention, however, and their efforts demonstrate the need for further systematic investigation of charter school discipline. For example, the Chicago Tribune reported that, during the 2012-2013 school year, Chicago charter schools expelled students at a vastly higher rate than Chicago public schools.109 They reported that, for every 10,000 students, charter schools expelled 61 students while public schools expelled 5.110 The Boston Globe similarly reported that Massachusetts charter schools were far more likely to suspend or expel students.111 The article cited to one Boston charter school that subjected nearly 60% of its student population to suspension during the 2012-2013 school year.112

Many more news articles and education advocates produce infographics and share anecdotes comparing public and charter exclusion rates in a number of cities.113 However, while these testimonials and comparisons are important and informative, there has been little large scale systemic research produced on charter school’s internal practices that lead to these high exclusion rates.

Advocates for Children in New York City produced a report entitled “Civil Rights Suspended: An Analysis of New York City Charter School Discipline Policies.”114 The report is a comprehensive review of New York City’s charter school disciplinary codes.115 To conduct their research, Advocates for Children filed a request under New York’s Freedom of Information Law with the three charter providers in New York City.116 Of the 183 charter schools operating in New York City, 155 schools responded and gave Advocates for Children 164 codes of conduct.117 After reviewing all 164 disciplinary codes, Advocates for Children produced a report comparing their findings to New York City Department of Education practices, federal guidelines, and New York state law.118

Many of the disciplinary codes reviewed utilized excessive punishment, exhibited non-conformity with New York City Department of Education practices or federal guidelines, and included misstatements or omissions of legally required state due process practices.119 Of the 164 discipline policies reviewed, 107 allowed a student to be suspended or expelled for any infraction listed in the discipline policy.120 Additionally, 133 of the 164 disciplinary codes “failed to include the right to written notice of a suspension prior to the suspension taking place.”121 Similar to Pennsylvania, this written notice requirement is mandated by New York law.122

Outside of directly requesting copies of charter school disciplinary codes, other charter discipline research points to the unreliability of national and state/local school discipline data.123 Alison Krupnick from the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) notes in her “Making Sense of Charter School Discipline Studies: A Reporter’s Guide” that, before 2011-2012, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) only reported data from the largest charter schools. Small, independent charter schools were excluded from data collection.124 She explains further that while OCR data reports suspension and expulsion numbers, they do nothing to indicate what acts or behaviors led to the suspension or expulsion.125 Because of this lack of reliable data, there has been little systemic research on charter school discipline policies.

Importantly, some academics have begun to investigate charter school disciplinary practices. For example, Joan Goodman questioned whether the hyper-regulated environments found in some charter schools, including those run by KIPP, a national chain operating in Philadelphia, deprive students of the opportunity to develop skills related to personal agency and may suppress aspirations.126

Thus, while investigations into charter schools’ discipline practices have been limited, the available data and analysis certainly raise concerns. Moreover, because charter schools are a rapidly growing segment of the public education landscape, and school discipline can have a profound effect on students’ lives, additional investigations into charter school discipline practices are needed.

V.  Analysis of Charter School Codes of Student Conduct

The first step in understanding charter school disciplinary practices and their effects is gaining a better understanding of the approaches that charter schools take to school discipline. Fundamentally, our research sought to gain a better understanding of the various systems that Philadelphia charter schools have created to monitor and control student conduct.

A.  Methodology

The goal of our research was to answer several questions regarding charter school codes of conduct in Philadelphia. Because this is exploratory research and, we hope, an initial step towards thorough investigations into charter school disciplinary practices, we identified the following broad research questions:

1.    What approaches to student discipline are being used by charter schools in Philadelphia?

2.    To what extent do charter school disciplinary approaches vary from each other and from the approach used by traditional public schools in Philadelphia?

3.    Are charter schools in Philadelphia using their relative freedom from the restrictions of traditional public school governance to develop alternative school discipline regimes?

4.    To what extent do charter schools’ student disciplinary practices align with best practices in school discipline?

5.    To what extent are charter school codes of conduct accessible to the public via school websites?

In order to answer these questions, we conducted content analysis of all available student codes of conduct for charter schools in the School District of Philadelphia. We selected charter schools in Philadelphia for several reasons: First, Philadelphia, like many cities, has a significant charter sector.127 Further, Philadelphia’s charter system includes not only a large number of schools but also a wide array of models, including some run by national chains including KIPP and Young Scholars; some run by local networks including Mastery and Universal; and many that are stand-alone schools, such as Alliance for Progress, FACTS, or Green Woods Charter school. This range of schools gave us a large number of distinct disciplinary codes to analyze. While the results of our study will not be generalizable, our findings will nonetheless make a significant contribution to the national charter school policy conversation and hopefully lead to similar analyses in other urban school districts. Second, the authors have established relationships with and knowledge of the School District of Philadelphia, enhancing our ability to obtain and analyze these codes. Third, the number of charter schools in Philadelphia enabled us to use a large sample of codes of conduct without having to grapple with the difficulties posed by analyzing charter codes of conduct that are subject to differing regulations across several different jurisdictions.128

We obtained the codes of conduct by submitting an open records request129 to the School District of Philadelphia requesting copies of all charter school codes of student conduct. Because the District began requiring all charter schools to submit their student codes of conduct to its Charter School Office in 2014, we believed this request would yield a collection of all charter school codes of conduct for the most recent school year (2014 – 2015). The District complied with our open records request and produced digital copies of all charter school codes of conduct that were in its possession. Of the 86 charter schools in the District, 9 failed to provide a copy of their code. In addition, a number of schools are part of networks run by a single management organization where one code is used in all schools.130 As a result, we analyzed 56 separate Codes, covering 77 separate schools.131

In order to analyze the codes of student conduct, we developed a content analysis rubric that consisted of 46 questions, divided into four categories.132 The first category of questions asked whether each code indicated that its charter school employed a variety of commonly used responses to student misconduct, including detention, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, expulsion, referral to police, restorative justice practices, and positive behavioral support and interventions. It also included an open-ended question that asked whether the code of conduct mentioned any responses to student behavior beyond the specific response types that we identified. The second set of questions focused on broader characteristics of the student codes of conduct, including whether student offenses were defined and whether the code provided a specific range of disciplinary responses for each offense type. This category of question also asked whether the prescribed disciplinary responses were discretionary or mandatory, whether administrators had explicit permission to use discretion when deciding upon disciplinary actions, and whether the codes mentioned the term “zero tolerance.” The third set of questions focused on specific offenses and disciplinary responses. For example, several questions asked what student offenses could trigger mandatory short-term suspension, long-term suspension, and expulsion. Likewise, questions asked which student offenses could potentially lead to these same responses. Questions also asked what were the most and least punitive responses to various types of misconduct, including tardiness and uniform violations. The final category of questions focused on code accessibility, including the availability of the codes in different languages and on the charter schools’ official websites. Importantly, this part of the analysis required both inspection of the codes provided to us by the School District of Philadelphia and inspection of each charter school’s official website.

Thus, the goal of our analysis was to produce quantifiable descriptive statistical and qualitative data that would allow us to compare the codes to each other, identify trends in the codes, and delineate unique aspects of certain codes. Two of the authors independently analyzed each of the codes of conduct using the content analysis rubric. We then merged the results of our analysis and reconciled discrepancies in our results through question modification and subsequent text analysis.133

B.    Results and Discussion


Consistent with the freedom provided to charter schools in Philadelphia, the 56 codes of conduct we analyzed varied considerably in terms of detail, featured varying levels of coherence and completeness, and contained a diverse array of approaches to school discipline. For example, while the code for the Global Leadership Academy was less than three pages, the code used for the Universal chain of charter schools was more than 40 pages. While many of the codes explained the specific disciplinary consequences that would be used to respond to specific offenses, or at least provided a range of potential consequences for many offenses, 9 of the schools’ codes failed to provide any indication as to what students might face if they commit various behaviors.134 Likewise, while many of the codes identified and defined potential offenses, 17 of the schools’ codes did not provide definitions for the offenses they listed, even when the names of the offense were particularly vague.135 For example, the Sankofa Freedom Academy lists “disorderly conduct” as an offense that could possibly lead to expulsion, but provides no definition. Similarly, the Preparatory Charter School’s code indicates that “repeated” insubordination can lead to out-of-school suspension and “continued” insubordination can lead to expulsion, but never explains what actions constitute this offense.136

The codes also included a wide variety of potential disciplinary responses, but traditional exclusionary discipline approaches were most predominant. For example, all but one school mentioned expulsion as a potential response to student behavior in their codes of conduct.137 All of the schools’ codes mention out-of-school suspension as a disciplinary response. In-school suspensions were explicitly mentioned in the codes for all but 14 of the charter schools138 and detentions were included as a disciplinary response in all but 10 of the schools’ codes.139

Additionally, many of the schools’ codes featured zero tolerance policies or de facto zero tolerance policies that did not specifically use the term, but still featured mandatory suspensions and expulsions in response to a variety of misbehaviors. “Zero tolerance” is explicitly mentioned in 38% of the codes. However, 74% of the schools’ codes include categories of offenses that require administrators to suspend students when they occur.140 Codes that mandate expulsions in response to certain offenses are also relatively common, with more than 38% of schools’ codes including such requirements.141 Moreover, more than 29% of the schools’ codes have lists of offenses that automatically lead to suspensions and separate lists of offenses that automatically lead to expulsion.142 Thus, while the term zero tolerance is not present in the majority of schools’ codes, de facto zero tolerance policies can be found in nearly three-quarters of the schools’ codes.

In contrast, the use of the more therapeutic approaches to school discipline was much less common. For example only 15 of the schools’ codes mentioned the use of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports,143 which has become a popular approach to school discipline in many public schools.144 Notably, 41 of the charter schools mention restorative practices145 in their codes, including all 14 schools that were part of the Mastery chain of charter schools and all seven Universal charter schools.146 However, as discussed below, closer investigation of some of these codes reveals that mere mention of restorative justice by a charter school does not demonstrate that the school actually embraces these practices in a systematic and consistent way.

The charter schools also employed a wide range of disciplinary responses that are not among the traditional list of exclusionary practices nor the more common therapeutic approaches to school discipline, such as restorative justice and PBIS. Examples of these include behavior contracts, “cooling off periods,” counseling referrals, “fix-it plans,” reflective writing, and community service.

One surprisingly common disciplinary approach was the use of a demerit system, akin to those used by military academies. In addition to the code for the 14 Mastery charter schools, 16 of the charter schools use “demerit,” “paycheck,” or similar point-based systems.147 In these systems, students receive demerits or reductions in their paychecks for minor incidents of misbehavior and these amounts are tallied on their identification cards, which they must carry with them at all times. When the demerits reach a certain level or the paycheck falls to a certain value, the students are assigned predetermined punishments, such as detentions, suspensions, or even expulsion.148 In certain schools, collecting demerits might also lead to alternative consequences. For example, at the World Communications Charter School, demerits can lead to detentions, and also parent conferences, referrals to a social worker or counselor, and restorative consequences.149


In order for a code of conduct to effectively give students and parents notice of unacceptable behaviors and the ramifications for those behaviors, the codes must be easily accessible. Additionally, under the choice theory of charter schools, the availability of a school’s code of conduct to prospective students and their parents is essential for in- formed decision making. The Philadelphia School District’s Code of Conduct is found on the School District’s webpage in a downloadable PDF.150 Its original format is in English, but the code of conduct is translated into nine different languages, which are also available for download.151 The last section of our analysis rubric focused specifically on questions related to whether the charter schools’ codes were similarly accessible.

Rather than utilizing one central webpage, it is up to each individual charter school to make its code of conduct available online. Of the 86 charter schools assessed for the purposes of this paper, 46 of the schools had codes that are accessible through their webpage.152 Of those that were accessible, some of them were incomplete,153 not downloadable,154 or only accessible through extensive online searches.155

Additionally, several schools had versions of the code on their web- sites that differed, sometimes dramatically, from the code provided to the District, either because the codes posted were outdated,156 were fundamentally different,157 or provided more expansive information.158 For example, the Universal management organization provided a code to the District that strongly emphasized restorative practices, “with suspensions used as a disciplinary measure of last resort.”159 But this document does not appear to be on either the general Universal website or on the website of the individual schools Universal operates. Indeed, the Universal Audenreid website contains a completely different version of the rules which has no mention at all of restorative practices.160

The code provided by First Philadelphia Charter School similarly uses positive language and emphasizes progressive discipline but the code on the school’s website is substantially more punitive and allows for an expulsion hearing where a student has a fourth violation for “spreading rumors,” a second violation for imitating or pretending to use drugs or cigarettes, and for the first time a student commits an “inappropriate gesture or act.”161

Of the available codes of conduct, only two of them were translated into another language.162 Given the Philadelphia School District had the need to translate its code of conduct into 9 languages, charter schools most likely also have a need to translate their codes of conduct. Furthermore, they most likely have the need to translate their codes of conduct into more than just Spanish. Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School’s student body is 76.92% Latino and comprises 10.83% English Language Learners but provided a code only in English.163 Esperanza Academy Charter High School is 96.23% Latino with 19.72% English Language Learners but has a code only in English.164 Pan American Academy Charter School is 89.13% Latino with 29.08% English Language Learners and no code translated into Spanish.165

Where charter schools have large populations of English language learner students, it is fair to assume that English is also not the first language for these students’ parents or guardians. Furthermore, even if a student is not an English language learner student, English still may not be the primary language for their parents or guardians.

For students and parents or guardians to be put on adequate notice of the behavioral requirements and consequences outlined in the code of conduct, and for an informed choice to be made when deciding on whether to enroll in one of the many charter schools in Philadelphia, a complete and accurate code of conduct for each charter school needs to be published online. Moreover, in order to sufficiently serve all of the students in the city, each code should be available in languages commonly understood by students and parents in Philadelphia.


The School District of Philadelphia’s code of conduct lists inappropriate behavior in a grid and cross lists those inappropriate behaviors with appropriate punishments and consequences.166 Vague terms used in that grid are defined in a “Glossary of Terms” found at the end of the code.167 For a school code to appropriately put students and their parents or guardians on notice of inappropriate behavior, vague terms must be defined and examples of those behaviors must be given so a student knows exactly what behaviors to avoid engaging in.

Some of the available charter school codes provide descriptive definitions for each of their listed infractions.168 Many, however, do not.169

Frequently these vague infractions are not major ones and can lead to relatively minor disciplinary responses, such as detentions, demerits, restorative dispositions, or a simple teacher reprimand. However, in some codes, repeated citations for these minor infractions may lead to greater consequences like an in-school or out of school suspension and even expulsion.170 Therefore, it is important for the codes of conduct to define these vague terms in a manner that sufficiently puts students and parents or guardians on notice for what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.

For example, “disruption” and “defiance” are two terms that are frequently cited as minor offenses in charter school codes of conduct.171 Without explicitly stated definitions, both of these terms are vague and leave a lot of room for interpretation. The unwillingness to define vague terms gives teachers and the administration greater discretion to punish students for behavior that they may not have interpreted as inappropriate under the code of conduct. For example, Keystone Academy Charter School’s list of “Behaviors Warranting Disciplinary Action” up to and including suspension and expulsion includes “[d]isobedience to teacher or any other staff, [d]isrepectful behavior toward teacher, staff or fellow classmate [and] [d]isruption of class, study or instruction.”172 A wide range of student behavior could fall under these terms. For a code of conduct to give adequate notice to students and parents or guardians that a behavior is inappropriate, vague terms must be defined in a way that limits student and parent or guardian interpretation and limits school discretion.


Some of the codes provide specific definitions for different types of misbehavior, but that clarity is undercut by the code’s grant of total or near total discretion to school administrators to impose sanctions, up to and including expulsion, for any behavior deemed to merit sanction by that administrator.173 For example, the code for the Young Scholars-Douglass charter school provides a chart with levels and consequences but also provides:

The following are the range of consequences (in no particular order) that may be exercised by YSD for students who disturb the optimal teaching/learning environment:

- Verbal warning
- Paycheck deduction
- Behavior reflection
- After-school detention
- Community Service
- Saturday detention
- Exclusion (mandatory parental conference before student returns to class)
- In-school Suspension
- Out of school suspension
- PATH Academy referral
- Expulsion174

Northwood Academy prohibits any behavior the principal considers disruptive, disrespectful, or disobedient, and the principal is expected to recommend for expulsion any student who engages in “immoral conduct,” which is not further defined.175 KIPP’s Code is clear and well written but provides total discretion to administrators. The anti- bullying provision states that “it will then be the sole decision of the School Leader to determine whether the child will be suspended or expelled ”176 The School Leader can decide if an exception justifies a lesser or greater punishment for any infraction, noting that short or long term suspension may be imposed for “any act, which school officials reasonably conclude warrants a short-term/long-term suspension.”177


Many codes regulate student behavior down to very tiny degrees of compliance and many employ very punitive language.178 At least 28 schools provide for expulsion for chronic failure to wear the uniform properly,179 including one that specifically mentions having an untucked shirt.180 The code for Young Scholars-Douglass directs how students should sit and how they should walk, dictates the width of a girl’s head- band, and specifies that the shoes of students in 6th through 8th grade “must be entirely black. This includes ALL parts of the shoe: laces, eyelets, buckles, soles, designs and emblems.”181 The YSD Code also specifies that if students arrive late to school “with evidence (i.e., black plastic bag with food in it) that visitation of a local corner store on the way to school is part of the reason they are late, and do not have a verifiable parental note excusing them, will have those items confiscated.”182

Another example of a hyper-regulated environment can be found at World Communications Charter School, which prohibits “[s]peaking to any community member in a way that makes them feel unsafe or violated. (Extreme circumstance may lead to a suspension and or recommendation for expulsion),” and also bans students from turning lights off in the hallway, restroom, or classrooms without permission.183 The Multi-Cultural Academy Charter School states:

Students are expected to show absolute respect to the teacher and to their classmates at all times. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to argue with the teacher or with other students. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to talk back and forth with a teacher.184

MACS considers backtalk a very serious violation, and it will al- ways result in the student being removed from the classroom, parent meeting, and further disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion.”185

Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School requires that parents and guardians “[a]ccept the right of the Board of Trustees of the Student’s School to require respectable behavior of all students and non-students at all activities involving the Student’s School.”186 This includes the possibility of suspension or expulsion for any violation of the dress code, failure to report to assigned area, tardiness, and any conduct considered disruptive, disrespectful or disobedient.187 Another example of this approach can be found in Young Scholars Kenderton’s code, which explicitly establishes a strict, regimented environment:

Academic excellence can only be achieved within a highly structured environment. . . .  Any time spent dealing with student misbehavior is lost instructional time. Therefore, KCS teachers and students are required to follow the routines and procedures of our school with strict precision. It is our responsibility to maximize every second of our school day to provide our students with the knowledge and skills required to grant them access to limitless opportunity.188

Our analysis also revealed several codes that prescribed potential expulsion for seemingly very minor behavior. Students may be expelled from the Alliance for Progress Charter School for chronic disrespect to staff — including nonthreatening but loud, profane, or demonstrative words or actions; or chronic gambling for fun.189 Birney Charter allows expulsion for a student’s fifth violation of the rules against use of profanity or causing a minor disruption.190 A student may be expelled from Boys Latin Charter School for repeated failures to recite the school pledge on demand in English by November of the 9th grade year and in Latin by end of the 10th grade year, for having missing homework, and for failure to upgrade a failed test.191 Community Academy Charter School allows expulsion for failure to disclose on the application that a student is a currently enrolled special education student,192 where a parent refuses a request to pick up a student who is ill or a threat,193 and for three uniform violations.194 First Philadelphia Charter School allows expulsion of a student for the third incident of possession of over the counter medication.195 A Franklin Towne Elementary Charter student may be expelled for acting in a disorderly way, interrupting the educational process, or chronic incidents of having a shirt untucked.196 A Franklin Towne Charter High School student faces expulsion for “behavior unbecoming a FTC student,” repeated disrespect, or repeated disruption.197

Freire Charter School allows expulsion for disruption of the learning environment, disrespect of a community member, and defiance.198 A student may be expelled from Green Woods Charter School if he exhibits inappropriate facial gestures,199 teases another student by holding out of reach an object belonging to that other student,200 or shows continued neglect of academic responsibilities.201 Independence Charter School may expel a student for repeated tardiness,202 or chronic minor misbehavior including hurtful words, arguments, talking back, being unkind, or exhibiting inappropriate displays of affection.203 The Laboratory Charter School allows expulsion for swearing, teasing, and a verbal or non-verbal attack on staff member.204 Maritime Academy Charter School provides for expulsion where a student commits chronic Level 1 offenses including persistent tardiness and making excessive noise.205 A student at the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School may be expelled if the student is chronically tardy or rude,206 or repeatedly violates the dress code.207 Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School also allows expulsion for repeated lateness, inappropriate gesture or action that can be viewed as rude or swearing.208

Community Academy is very quick to expel, according to its code. It provides for immediate suspension for “overt sexual behavior”209 in the code for its K-8 program and also notes that “[a]fter two in-school suspensions, or one out-of-school suspension, a student is liable to be dismissed from the school.”210

Collectively, these examples demonstrate that several of the charter schools in Philadelphia rely on strict adherence to highly regulated behavioral expectations. Further, many make exclusionary punishments such as expulsion, readily available to school administrators, even in response to relatively minor misbehavior, in order to maintain the obedient student body that they desire.


As revealed above, several codes include language that emphasizes restorative justice, but many of these codes undercut the charters’ restorative justice ideals by providing for highly punitive responses to misbehavior that are more likely to disrupt students’ relationships with their school communities, rather than mend them. For example, the Freire Charter School code employs positive behavior descriptions and uses restorative interventions but also puts a heavy emphasis on non-violence.211 Violence is very broadly defined to include grabbing, physically invading another’s personal space in order to intimidate, yelling, taunting/teasing, screaming, and cursing.212 The code specifies that it covers acts “in the community.”213 High school students face automatic expulsion for any act of violence under this definition and self-defense is explicitly excluded as a justification.214 Middle school students face the same penalties except that they may get a warning for verbal violence.215 Yet, if students who engage in these relatively minor types of “violence” face expulsion, there is no way for the school to enable them to restore their antagonistic relationships because they will be removed from the school entirely.

Eastern Academy Charter School calls its document “Code of Conduct/ Restorative Practices” and highlights restorative practices in de- tail, setting out the principles and process, and emphasizing that the restorative practice model “seeks to put right the wrongs that have been done, so that victims feel safe and valued, and offenders feel restored to the school community.”216 It goes on to detail the restorative questions that should be discussed by the student and community. But it also lists a wide range of behaviors that can result in suspension, including failure to wear the uniform, tardiness, encouraging horse- play, and use of disruptive or abusive language.”217 If a student is suspended for a third time, he will be recommended for expulsion.218 Eastern also specifies that “any student involved in acts of physical violence against persons, or engaged in a physical fight, regardless of the circumstances will be automatically excluded from the community” for at least 10 days and a formal conference with the students and parents is required “to determine whether the student should be allowed back into the school.”219 Again, these responses seem to disrupt any goal of restorative justice.


Some schools employ shaming as a disciplinary device by publicly displaying the extent to which students have complied with behavior expectations. Young Scholars-Douglass has a code that is both punitive and employs shaming as an enforcement mechanism. Although it opens with “Our goal is to ensure that our school is safe, that learning is occurring 100% of the time, and that students are joyful and feel that the adults around them care about them as people,”220 each K-2 student has a “choices meter” which color-codes the student’s behavior.221 The student starts the day on Green but can move up to Blue or Blue Star or down to Yellow, Orange, or worst of all Red.222 The code specifies that an “elite group” of students will be chosen for special “privileges and opportunities that other students won’t experience,”223 including eating in a special location in the lunchroom, getting to be a line leader, and enjoying dress down Fridays — all of which make the students’ status visible to others.224

Mastery requires students to wear a lanyard that contains the Mastery ID and the student’s merit and demerit card that must be shown to a staff member on request.225 Freire requires new students to wear green shirts until they earn the privilege to wear their own clothes.226 If their behavior is “contrary to academic and professional success” they will remain in the green shirts or be required to resume wearing them.227


One of the most critical factors in the growth of the school-to-prison pipeline is the increase in schools involving law enforcement in the disciplinary process. Several of the Philadelphia charter school codes stress that law enforcement will be called or brought in for behavioral issues other than those involving a weapon. The Alliance for Progress Charter School is a K-8 school but states that law enforcement will be contacted for terroristic threats, drugs, theft, arson, vandalism, sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment.228 Community Academy will involve the police where students are accused of computer misuse,229 possession of illegal items,230 fighting or encouraging a fight, disorderly conduct, simple or aggravated assault, or terroristic threats.231 The Belmont Charter School, a K-2 school, includes calls to the police for Level 3 infractions and includes a section on use of restraints.232 Students at the Maritime Academy Charter School may be arrested for graffiti and for inappropriate physical contact or confrontation with staff including staff from another charter school.233 While referral to the police can be appropriate for significant illegal behavior in school, many of the behaviors that can lead to police referrals at these schools do not seem to warrant the involvement of the police.


A code that is not understandable cannot serve its fundamental purpose of placing students and families on notice of what is expected of them.

Several of the Philadelphia charter schools’ codes contain confusing organization and language that renders the code ineffective. The World Communications Charter School states: “There are no second chances for violation of the nonviolence policy [which has not yet been provided]. Any act of violence is immediate grounds for expulsion. NO EXCEPTIONS. Repeated or excessive violation of the same rule will result in more severe consequences.”234 That school also includes the following statement about its culture, a statement that is difficult to understand:

Working Our World. We expect the best from our students. Excellent student behaviors result from students observing excellent student behaviors. To ensure exemplary culture we insist on exemplary culture . . . always. Every misstep is addressed. Everything is in its rightful place. Nothing is ignored. Student success is community success. Student struggles are community struggles. We support each other and ensure that the community holds every student accountable. Mediocrity and anonymity is our enemy!235

Some codes are part of a larger handbook but the handbook contains disciplinary information that is not part of the code.236 That organization is inherently confusing as readers are likely to rely on the information that is identified as part of the Rules of Conduct and could miss the disciplinary impact of a student violating policies laid out elsewhere in the Handbook. The Boys Latin Charter School Handbook presents this problem because so much disciplinary information is in sections that are not labeled Rules of Conduct. For example, expulsion may be a response for repeated uniform violations but that is found in the separate section on Uniform Regulations; improper use of a school laptop may also lead to expulsion but that is found in the Acceptable Use Policy.237 If the purpose of these codes are to put students and parents or guardians on notice of the behavioral expectations and possible consequences for misbehavior, clarity is essential.


Several of the codes contain poor drafting that risks confusion even if the intended meaning is relatively easy to discern. The Laboratory Charter code is not well written and somewhat confusing. For example, it states: “We do not tolerate fighting, hitting, stealing, destroying property, throwing snowballs, bringing weapons to school, instigating trouble, disruptive behavior, bullying/intimidation, tobacco products. The above are possible causes for suspension or expulsion a student immediately for this behavior as described in the State regulations.”238 The Laboratory Charter rules are in 3 categories but then the consequences refer to levels; it is not clear if the levels reflect the number of violations or something else.

The code for the Mariana Bracetti Charter School includes under the heading of Level II offense: “No Student Shall Threaten or Intimidate A School Official Or A Student”:239

(Physical, verbal, written, or electronic threat or intimidation) — No student or shall place another person in fear of bodily harm through verbal threats without displaying a weapon or subjecting the person to actual physical attack. No student shall stalk, harass, bully, intimidate or threat another person. This rule includes but is not limited to secretly or stealthily pursuing another, spying on or watching another person, with or without the intent to harm, frighten, or coerce.240

West Oak Lane Charter School lists as a Level One violation: “Trespass/ Loiters — the entrance onto school Grounds when prohibited.” Community Academy, under Uniform Regulations, directs that: “Students that want to wear a headband/ ponytail tie must be black or blue.”241 These examples of poor drafting may create confusion and lead students and parents or guardians to question the legitimacy of school administrators.


A number of the codes subject parents to behavioral and financial burdens, separate from the control of student behavior. For example, the Green Woods Charter School code includes a threat to prosecute parents for falsifying residency and states:

Also, the provision of such false information [about place of residence] is a summary offense, for which criminal conviction the parent will be sentenced to pay a fine of up to $300.00 for the benefit of the school or to perform up to 240 hours of community service or both. Additionally, the parent shall pay all court costs and shall be liable to GWCS for an amount equal to the cost of tuition during the period of enrollment.242

The Preparatory Charter School requires parents to “volunteer” ten hours per year or pay $20. It also bars students from trips and activities and threatens to withhold report cards and records if the student has any outstanding debts to the school.243 The codes of Boys Latin Charter School and Esperanza Charter School both explicitly provide that students may be disciplined for the conduct of their parents and other friends and family members.244

Some schools also threaten the involvement of the Department of Human Services. For example, Independence and First Philadelphia Charter warn that repeated tardiness will lead to a report to the Department of Human Services, which is responsible for investigating reports of neglect or abuse by parents245. Richard Allen Charter School also states that it will refer a family to DHS for “continued lateness” but also for dropping kids off too early.246 “Leaving students unattended before school hours will be viewed by this institution as parental neglect. A report will [sic] filed with the Department of Human Services (DHS) in such instances.”247 While sometimes contacting DHS may be required to protect students from neglect and abuse, threats such as these often fall hardest on students whose families have limited resources or challenging employment conditions that in no way reflect improper parenting.


The Pennsylvania Code provides certain due process guarantees to students and parents in disciplinary hearings.248 When a student is suspended for more than 3 days, that student is entitled to an informal hearing.249 The student’s parents or guardians must be informed of the suspension in writing and given notice of the time and place of the informal hearing.250 This informal hearing must be held within the first 5 days of the suspension.251 The suspension decision is not appealable.252 Expulsions require formal hearings.253 Expulsions are exclusions from school for more than 10 days.254 Parents or guardians must be informed of the expulsion in writing.255 The formal hearing must be held within 15 days of the expulsion and the parents or guardians must be given at least 3 days’ notice of the formal hearing.256 The Pennsylvania Code also requires that schools abide by Act 26.257 Act 26 mandates that school administration expel any student that brings a weapon into the school.258 It explains, however, that school administrators may recommend modifications to the mandatory expulsion on a case-by-case basis.259

Our analysis of the codes did not focus on the due process procedures laid out by the schools or on how they effectuate those procedures. However, a few codes made clear that the essential quality of due process — a fair opportunity to be heard — is not really applicable. The World Communications code states that after a formal hearing, the school will determine the next action.260 “The School Climate manager will recommend one of two consequences; recommendation for expulsion or a probationary behavioral contract261.” The code thus presumes that the formal hearing will result in punishment and does not contemplate the possibility that the student may not have committed an offense at all.

As we noted at the outset of this article, our analysis is a first step. We highlight here how the codes empower the charter schools to impose wide-ranging exclusionary discipline. Use of such discipline can contribute to students’ entry into the school-to-prison pipeline. The next step, we hope, is collection and rigorous analysis of data that shows what is actually happening in these schools and how they are employing the power the codes provide.

VI.  Conclusion

The codes of conduct employed by charter schools in Philadelphia demonstrate that they employ a wide array of approach to school discipline. This reflects the desire for variety and experimentation in educational approaches that underlies some of the push for charter schools. Yet, as discussed above, commonalities among many of the codes raise serious concerns. Most prominently, many of the codes suggest most charter schools turn too quickly to exclusionary school discipline as a response to student misbehavior. Moreover, the codes are often vague and provide charter school administrators with wide discretion when deciding whether an act of misbehavior should lead to suspension or expulsion. Likewise, the rigid expectations placed upon students raise concerns that some charter schools are setting students up to fail, or perhaps regulating them to such an extent that they fail to develop any sense of personal agency.

All of this suggests that the charter school sector should move to develop model codes of conduct that clearly communicate behavior expectations and potential consequences to students and their parents or guardians. Ideally, such codes will resist the tendency of many charter schools to rely on exclusionary discipline practices, and instead create inclusive school environments where the goal is to retain all students and help misbehaving students develop positive behavioral tendencies (along with academic success). With alternative student behavior systems, such as PBIS and restorative justice, available and in place in some charters and traditional public schools alike, the charter sector should be able to develop model student codes that promote these goals.

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  1. Christopher A. Mallett, The School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Critical Review of the Punitive Paradigm Shift, CHILD & ADOLESCENT SOC. WORK J. 1, 1 (2015).
  2. See Natalie Gomez-Velez, Urban Public Education Reform: Governance, Accountability, Outsourcing, 45 URB. LAW. 51, 65–67 (2013) (tracing the development of support for charter expansion under the Race to the Top Program).
  3. See, e.g., Jason P. Nance, Students, Police, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline, 93 WASH. U. L. REV. 1 (forthcoming 2015) (exploring the data on exclusionary discipline and the link between more severe discipline and the growing presence of police stationed within schools). But the articles do not focus specifically on the roles of charters as a distinct sector.
  4. Patrick Denice, Betheny Gross, & Karega Rausch, Understanding Student Discipline Practices in Charter Schools: A Research Agenda, CRPE, available at (where the Center for Reinventing Public Education recently called for more research on exclusionary charter school discipline).
  5. This includes neighborhood schools and a variety of special admission and magnet schools.
  7. Id.
  8. 24 PA. CONS. STAT. § 17-1714-A (2015).
  9. Id. § 17-1716-A.
  10. NAT’L ALLIANCE FOR PUB. CHARTER SCH., A GROWING MOVEMENT: AMERICA’S LARGEST CHARTER SCHOOL COMMUNITIES, 3 (9th ed. 2014), available at (where Philadelphia ranked third in the “Highest Number of Public Charter School Students by School District, 2013-2014”); Martha Woodall, Charter Enrollment Has More Than Doubled Since 2007, THE INQUIRER (Feb. 17, 2015), (“Charter enrollment in the city has more than doubled—from 29,700 in 2007 to 62,358. That’s 30 percent of the total number of the district’s 204,358 students.”).
  11. See 24 PA. CONS. STAT. § 17-1732-A.
  12. See id.; see also infra text accompanying note 23 (discussing due process requirements); see also infra text accompanying notes 29–30 (discussing Pennsylvania’s Act 26).
  13. Jaclyn Zubrzycki, Sean Cavanaugh, & Michele McNeil, Charter Schools’ Discipline Policies Face Scrutiny, EDUCATION WEEK, Feb. 19, 2013,
  14. See infra note 190.
  15. It is beyond the scope of this article to determine whether any of the schools are using the powers they have under their codes in order to discriminate or to unfairly limit educational access to students with disabilities or behavioral issues. Accessing the necessary data would be a challenge. The School District of Philadelphia began collecting some data on suspension rates in 2013-2014 which is reflected in the School Progress Reports but that data does not include identification of the behavior the school cited as the reason for any particular suspension or expulsion. The District’s Charter Office is in the process of evaluating the need for more data collection in this area which will be available to future researchers. Telephone Interview with Julian Thompson, Philadelphia School District Charter Office, in Philadelphia, Pa. (November 2, 2015) (notes on file with author).
  16. UNCOMMON SCHOOLS, Frequently Asked Questions About Public, Charter Schools, (last visited Nov. 25, 2015). Uncommon Schools is a charter management organization that “formalizes its mission as a charter management organization with the goal of starting and managing schools that create transformative college prep opportunities for low-income children.” UNCOMMON SCHOOLS, Our History, Charter Schools, (last visited Nov. 25, 2015).
  17. Many charter schools in Philadelphia have imposed significant barriers to entry in the past. See Benjamin Herold, Questionable application processes at Green Woods, other schools, THE NOTEBOOK, (Sept. 14, 2012, 4:22 PM), (noting requirements including requiring a detailed ten page application, requiring that applications be completed in person at an open house held only one night per year, failing to provide any application materials in any language other than English, asking for recommendation letters and proof of U.S. citizenship).
  18. Preston C. Green III et al., Having It Both Ways: How Charter Schools Try to Obtain Funding of Public Schools and the Autonomy of Private Schools, 63 EMORY L.J. 303 (2013); see also Chris Lubienski, Redefining “Public” Education: Charter Schools, Common Schools, and the Rhetoric of Reform, (2001) The League of Women Voters decision in Washington state determined that charter schools were not “common schools” under the Washington State Constitution because they are not subject to voter control and thus diverting money to them from the basic education funding for common schools violated the state constitutional provision requiring that “the entire revenue derived from the common school fund and the state tax for common schools shall be exclusively applied to the support of the common schools.” League of Women Voters of Wash. v. State, 355 P.3d 1131, 1138 (Wash. 2015) (“League of Women Voters”) (citing Article IX, section 2 of the Washington Constitution).
  19. Dashboard: A Comprehensive Data Resource from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS, (last visited on Nov. 30, 2015). Washington State opened its first charter schools in 2014-2015 but the Washington Supreme Court recently determined that charter schools could not be funded as common schools under the state constitution, casting the continued operation of charters in the state into doubt. League of Women Voters, 355 P.3d at 1138.
  20. “Today, one-third of the nation’s charter schools are being operated by private education management organizations (EMOs) and this proportion is growing rapidly each year. In states such as Michigan, close to 80% of charter schools are operated by private for-profit EMOs.” GARY MIRON, TESTIMONY PREPARED FOR JUNE 1, 2011 HEARING OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE 3 available at Florida and Ohio are also dominated by for-profit charter schools. Everything You Need To Know About Charter Schools, STATE IMPACT, visited Nov. 30, 2015); Doug Livingston, Ohio’s For-profit Charter Schools Drag State into Group of Nation’s Worst Performers, AKRON BEACON J., June 30, 2015,; Measuring Up, NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS, (last visited Nov. 18, 2015) (Educational Service Providers allowed are those “(both for-profit and non-profit) explicitly allowed to operate all or parts of schools.”).
  21. For example, the Chester Community Charter School, though organized as a non-profit, is operated by Charter School Management Inc., a for-profit, which has fought requests under the Pennsylvania Right to Know law on the grounds that CMSI is not a public entity and thus not subject to the Right to Know requirements. Dan Hardy, Charter School Appeals to Block Release of Records, PHILADELPHIA ALLIANCE OF CHARTER SCHOOL EMPLOYEES, (last visited Nov. 30, 2015); Chester Cnty. Charter School v. Hardy, 38 A.3d 1079 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2012) vacated and remanded 74 A.3d 118 (Pa. 2013).
  22. See, e.g., Valerie Strauss, The Big Business of Charter Schools, WASH. POST, Aug. 17, 2012,
  23. 24 PA. CONS. STAT. § 17-1723-A. If seats are unclaimed by district residents, out of district children may enroll. There were 14 cyber charters operating in Pennsylvania in the 2014–2015 school year. 2014–15 Cyber Charter Schools, PA. DEP’T OF EDUC., available at The cyber charters are not part of this study because they draw students from throughout Pennsylvania and, given the bulk of the student’s educational experience occurs at her home, they present very different discipline concerns.
  24. In most states, even those students must be provided with an alternative education.
  25. See, e.g., Frequently Asked Questions, CAL. CHARTER SCHOOL ASSOCIATION (2015), (last visited Nov. 22, 2015).
  26. James E. Ryan & Michael Heise, The Political Economy of School Choice, 111 YALE L.J. 2043, 2074 (2002).
  27. Richard D. Kahlenberg & Halley Potter, The Original Charter School Vision, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 30, 2014, (describing the Minnesota Law).
  28. Id.
  29. 24 PA. CONS. STAT §17-1717-A (e)(2)(iv).
  30. The first charter school law was enacted in Minnesota in 1991. 1991 Minn. Laws 1123–29 (codified at MINN. STAT. § 124E.01 (2015)). The history of the Minnesota law is traced to the business-oriented view of education reform promoted by Ted Kolderie and the Citizen’s League. Myron Orfield & Thomas Luce, Charters Choice and the Constitution, 2014 U. CHI. LEGAL F. 377, 381–83 (2014). See generally Ted Kolderie, Policy Report: Beyond Choice to New Public Schools, Withdrawing the Exclusive Franchise in Public Education, PROGRESSIVE POLICY INST., Nov. 1990, available at (calling for school boards to divest from operating schools in favor of a model of contracting school operations to private organizations).
  32. The rhetoric is heated. Proponents of charter expansion often appear to assume that charters are inherently better due to the discipline of the market. See, e.g., JOHN E. CHUBB & TERRY M. MOE, MARKETS & AMERICA’S SCHOOLS 271 (1990). But those who critique charters note that this enthusiasm tends to over focus on test scores, which themselves do not consistently demonstrate this claimed superiority, and ignore the myriad ways that the charter populations differ from those of traditional public schools. See, e.g., DIANE RAVITCH, REIGN OF ERROR: THE HOAX OF THE PRIVATIZATION MOVEMENT AND THE DANGER TO AMERICA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS 49–65 (2013). In Philadelphia, this debate was on display during the 2014–2015 school year as the School District had to evaluate applications for 40 new charter schools. The Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners issued a study that purported to show that charters were disproportionately among the most effective schools and thus expansion was justified. PHILADELPHIA SCHOOL ADVOCACY PARTNERS, ONE CITY, TWO SYSTEMS OF SCHOOLS: A LOOK AT PHILADELPHIA SCHOOLS USING 2013–2014 SCHOOL PERFORMANCE PROFILES 6 (2014), available at But the methodology and conclusions of the PSAP study were challenged and debunked as inaccurate by Research for Action. LUCAS WESTMAAS & JOHN SLUDDEN, A BRIEF REVIEW OF PSAP’S POSITION PAPER “ONE CITY, TWO SYSTEMS OF SCHOOLS” 2–5 (Research for Action Dec. 2014), available at
  33. The time and expense of oversight and of the charter closure process belies the claim of greater accountability. Schools can and do contest revocation decisions and the process can drag out for years. See, e.g., Pocono Mountain Charter Sch., Inc. v. Pocono Mountain Sch. Dist., 88 A. 3d 275 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2014) (upholding revocation first sought by District in 2008).
  34. See, e.g., Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School Disciplinary Code, which includes as a Level I violation: “spoken, written, and body language that is disrespectful, inflammatory, or offensive . . . includ[ing] rolling eyes, sucking teeth, talking back, silently mouthing words, defiantly folding arms, pouting, avoiding eye contact, slouching in chair, etc.” SOUTHWEST LEADERSHIP ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL, PARENT & SCHOLAR HANDBOOK (2013–2014), availabe at
  35. See PHILA. SCH. DIST., SCHOOL PROGRESS REPORTS: USER GUIDE (2013–2014), available at [hereinafter USER GUIDE] (the SPRs explicitly slot schools into one of four tiers and also rank them against their peer schools based on a comparison of their overall SPR number).
  36. For a more in depth analysis of how parents make choices about schools and how those choices are strongly influenced by the racial demographics of the school options and by the class and social capital available to the parent, see Susan L. DeJarnatt, School Choice and the (Ir)rational Parent, 15 GEO. J. ON POVERTY L. & POL’Y 1, 17–41 (2008). Courtney Bell’s study of parental choice demonstrates the significant impact of social capital and networks in influencing how parents decide what schools are even possible for them to consider. Courtney Bell, All Choices Created Equal? How Good Parents Select “Failing “Schools” 2 (Nat’l Ctr. for the Study of Privatization in Educ., Teachers Coll., Columbia Univ., Working Paper 2005).
  37. See infra Part V.B.2.
  38. See infra note 151.
  39. See infra notes 51–54 and accompanying text.
  40. Press Release, U.S. Dept. of Ed., States Open to Charters Start Fast in ‘Race to the Top,’ (June 8, 2009), available at Shortly before announcing that he would step down as Secretary of Education at the end of 2015, Duncan announced the award of $157 million to fund expansion of charters, noting that the DOE has spent over $3 billion on the charter sector. Press Release, U.S. Dept. of Ed., U.S. Department of Education Contributes to an Improving Charter Sector (Sept. 28, 2015), available at
  41. Get the Facts, PUBLIC CHARTERS, visited Nov. 30, 2015).
  43. See generally CHRISTOPHER LUBIENSKI & SARAH THEULE LUBIENSKI, THE PUBLIC SCHOOL ADVANTAGE: WHY PUBLIC SCHOOLS OUTPERFORM PRIVATE SCHOOLS (U. of Chicago Press 2013) (analysis of NAEP math data showed superior performance by traditional public schools over demographically similar charter and private schools); Press Release, Nat’l Educ. Policy Ctr., Charter Researchers Promoting “No Excuses” Schools Republish Inflated Claims (Oct. 9, 2015), available at
  45. PA. DEP’T OF EDUC., CHARTER SCHOOLS (Dec. 2014) available at
  46. Ron Zimmer et al., Evaluating the Performance of Philadelphia’s Charter Schools 1 (RAND, Research for Action, & Mathematica Policy Research Inc., Working Paper No. WR-550-WPF, Mar. 2008), available at
  47. Under the Renaissance Initiative, the District selects traditional public schools and transfers management of the school to a charter organization. See generally Renaissance School Initiative, OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND EVALUATION, (last visited Nov. 30, 2015) (providing several reports on the Renaissance Initiative); see also 2014–15 CYBER CHARTER SCHOOLS, PA. DEP’T OF EDUC. (2014–2015), available at; CHARTER SCHOOL DIRECTORY BY REGION, PHIL. SCH. DIST. (2014–2015), available at
  48. Paul Socolar, City’s Charter Enrollment Surpasses 67,000; Many Charters Exceed Enrollment Caps, THE NOTEBOOK (Feb. 4, 2014, 4:40 PM),
  49. It is beyond the scope of this article to address the impact of the closure of neighborhood catchment schools, but this is a growing issue in Philadelphia and nationally. For a discussion of the effects in Philadelphia, see generally Susan L. DeJarnatt, Community Losses: The Costs of Education Reform, 45 U. TOLEDO L. REV. 579 (2014). Chicago has experienced community, family, and teacher resistance to closures and privatization, culminating most recently in the dramatic hunger strike to resist closure of Dyett High School, the last neighborhood high school in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. Wilson Dizard, Chicago Parents and Activists on Hunger Strike to Keep School Open, AL JAZEERA AMERICA (Sept. 2, 2015 10:50 AM),
  50. See High School Profiles, THE NOTEBOOK, (last visited Nov. 30, 2015).
  51. In addition to the rankings of schools contained in these rubrics, both are moving towards using the rubrics as a means to evaluate teachers as well. The use of high stakes tests to evaluate teachers is hotly contested but promoted by the U.S. Department of Education. For a thoughtful critique, see EDWARD H. HAERTEL, RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY OF INFERENCES ABOUT TEACHERS BASED ON STUDENT TEST SCORES, EDUC. TESTING SERVS. (2013), avaiable at
  52. “The Climate domain measures student engagement and school climate, focusing on student attendance, student retention, and in- and out-of-school suspensions. We have also introduced survey results measuring student and parent or guardian perceptions of school climate as well as parent or guardian engagement; survey metrics are unscored and do not contribute to a school’s overall or domain scores in SY 2013–2014.” USER GUIDE, supra note 35, at 6. The Climate domain in total counts for 20% of the SPR overall score.
  53. USER GUIDE, supra note 35, at 7 (80% of the ranking is based on test scores for K through 8 and 70% for high school). The “Progress” domain counts for 50% (or 40% for high school) which leads to some peculiarities in that schools that already have high scoring students get lower rankings because they have no capacity for growth. For example, the Julia R. Masterman School was ranked in the lowest possible tier, “Intervention,” in the “progress domain” because its students already score at the top on the tests. PHILA. SCH. DIST., 2013–2014 SCHOOL PROGRESS REPORT (2013–2014), available at—-MS-Abbreviated.pdf. That ranking resulted in Masterman being placed in the second tier overall, “Reinforce,” despite its fairly renowned academic achievements. Id. at 15.
  54. Masterman Julia R. Sec. Sch. School Fast Facts, PA. DEP’T OF EDUC., (last visited Nov. 24, 2015). Again, schools like Masterman lose points for lack for lack of growth. Compare the test scores for Algebra (98.4% advanced or proficient) and Reading/Literature (99.06 proficient or advanced), the school was docked points for lack of growth in those two areas. Id.
  55. Charter School Law Act of 1997, 24 PA. CONS. STAT. § 17-1732-A.
  56. 2014–15 CYBER CHARTER SCHOOLS, PA. DEP’T OF EDUC., available at Two schools closed in December 2014, Walter D. Palmer Learning Leadership Partners Charter School and Wakisha Charter School. Wakisha provided a Code that is included in our analysis. Palmer did not provide a Code. Young Scholars-Douglass lost its charter in May 2015 and management of the school was turned over to Mastery. SRC Approves Transfer of Young Scholars Douglass Charter to Mastery, MASTERY CHARTER SCHOOLS, May 29, 2015, But Young Scholars-Douglass operated throughout the 2014–2015 school year and is included in our analysis.
  57. See 22 PA. CODE § 12.2 (2015).
  58. Id. § 12.6.
  59. Id.
  60. Id.
  61. Id. § 12.8(c)(1).
  62. Id. §12.8(c).
  63. Id. §12.8(c)(2)(v).
  64. Id. §12.6(b)(2).
  65. Id.
  66. Id. §12.8(b)(2).
  67. Id. §12.6(d).
  68. Policy and Procedures, SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA, (last visited Nov. 30, 2015).
  69. Expulsion hearings must be conducted by the Governing Board or authorized committee of the Board. The Governing Board of a charter school is its Board of Directors. 22 PA. CODE §§12.8, 12.16.
  70. See Charter School Law Act of 1997, 24 PA. CONS. STAT. § 17-1732-A.
  71. Jaclyn Zubrzycki et al., supra note 13.
  73. See generally ELIZABETH MIDLARSKY & HELEN MARIE KLAIN, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE IN THE SCHOOLS, in VIOLENCE IN SCHOOLS: CROSS-NATIONAL AND CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE, 37–58 (Denmark, H., Krauss, H. H., Wesner, R. W., Midlarsky, E., & Gielen, U.P., eds. 2005); Russell J. Skiba, Reaching a Critical Juncture for Our Kids: The Need to Reassess School-Justice Practices, 51 FAM. CT. REV. 380, 380–87 (2013).
  74. 20 U.S.C. § 7151 (2015).
  75. Jeanne B. Stinchcomb, Gordon Bazemore, & Nancy Riestenberg, Beyond Zero Tolerance: Restoring Justice in Secondary Schools, 4 YOUTH VIOLENCE AND JUVENILE JUST. 123 (2006).
  77. 42 U.S.C. § 3797a (2015).
  78. Paul J. Hirschfield, Preparing for Prison?: The Criminalization of School Discipline in the USA, 12 THEORETICAL CRIMINOLOGY 79 (2008). See generally AARON KUPCHIK, HOMEROOM SECURITY: SCHOOL DISCIPLINE IN AN AGE OF FEAR (N.Y.U. Press 2010); WILLIAM LYONS & JULIE DREW, PUNISHING SCHOOLS: FEAR AND CITIZENSHIP IN AMERICAN PUBLIC EDUCATION (Univ. of Mich. Press 2006) (discussing approaches to school discipline surrounding a culture of fear).
  79. See Aaron Kupchik, Things Are Tough All Over: Race Ethnicity Class and School Discipline, 11 PUNISHMENT & SOC’Y (2009). See generally LYONS & DREW, supra note 78 (discussing punishments in “Pleasantville,” suburban, and urban areas).
  80. See, e.g., ELORA MUKHERJEE, CRIMINALIZING THE CLASSROOM: THE OVER-POLICING OF NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS 28 (Phyllis Eckaus et al. eds., 2007), available at; Paul J. Hirschfield, Preparing for Prison?: The Criminalization of School Discipline in the USA, 12 THEORETICAL CRIMINOLOGY 79 (2008); Matthew T. Theriot, School Resource Officers and the Criminalization of School Behavior., 37 J. OF CRIM. JUST. 280 (2009).
  81. See, e.g., SAMANTHA POWNALL, A, B, C, D, STPP: HOW SCHOOL DISCIPLINE FEEDS THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE 12 (Johanna Miller et al. eds., 2013), available at; DANIEL J. LOSEN, DISCIPLINE POLICIES SUCCESSFUL SCHOOLS AND RACIAL JUSTICE (Nat’l Educ. Policy Ctr. 2011), available at; Russell J. Skiba, Mariella I. Arredondo, & Natasha T. Williams, More Than a Metaphor: The Contribution of Exclusionary Discipline to a School-to-Prison Pipeline, 47 EQUITY AND EXCELLENCE IN EDUC., 546 (2014).
  82. See, e.g., KATHLEEN NOLAN, POLICE IN THE HALLWAYS: DISCIPLINE IN AN URBAN HIGH SCHOOL (Univ. of Minn. Press 2011) (documenting the experiences of students in a Bronx high school that were frequently punished for failing to produce their school ID when asked, among other procedural transgressions).
  83. DANIEL LOSEN et al., ARE WE CLOSING THE SCHOOL DISCIPLINE GAP? 4 (UCLA Ctr. for Civil Rights Remedies 2015), available at
  84. Gary Fields & John Emshwiller, For More Teens, Arrests by Police Replace School Discipline, WALL ST. J., Oct. 20, 2014,
  85. See generally Kerrin Wolf & Aaron Kupchik, Exclusionary School Discipline and Experiences in Adulthood (unpublished manuscript) (discussing the “school-to-prison pipeline” and negative effects of exclusionary punishment).
  86. Id. at 3 (citing Linda M. Raffaele Mendez, Predictors of Suspension and Negative School Outcomes: A Longitudinal Investigation, 99 NEW DIRECTIONS FOR YOUTH DEV. 17 (2003)).
  87. Id. at 10.
  88. Id.
  89. Id.
  90. See, e.g., Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, The Effect Of Education On Crime: Evidence From Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports, 1 AM. ECON. REV. 94, 155 (2004).
  91. Linda M. Raffaele Mendez, Predictors of Suspension and Negative School Outcomes: A Longitudinal Investigation, 99 NEW DIRECTIONS FOR YOUTH DEV. 17 (2003).
  93. Suhyun Suh & Jingyo Suh, Risk Factors and Levels of Risk for High School Dropouts, 10 AM. SCH. COUN. ASS’N 297 (2007).
  94. Gary Sweeten, Who Will Graduate? Disruption of High School Education By Arrest and Court Involvement, 23 JUST. Q. 462 (2006).
  95. Paul Hirschfield, Another Way Out: The Impact of Juvenile Arrests on High School Dropout, 82 AM. SOCIOLOGY ASS’N. 368 (2009).
  97. Lochner & Moretti, supra note 90.
  98. Wolf & Kupchik, supra note 85.
  99. Id. at 16.
  100. See KUPCHIK, supra note 78; Pedro Noguera, Preventing and Producing Violence: A Critical Analysis of Responses to School Violence, 65 HARV. EDUC. REV. 189 (1995); KATHLEEN NOLAN, POLICE IN THE HALLWAYS: DISCIPLINE IN AN URBAN HIGH SCHOOL (UNIV. OF MINN. PRESS 2011); Sandra Way, School Discipline and Disruptive Classroom Behavior: The Moderating Effects of Student Perceptions, 52 THE SOCIOLOGICAL QUARTERLY 346 (2011).
  101. E.g., Philip Cook et al., School Crime Control and Prevention, 39 CRIME AND JUST. 313 (2010).
  102. Social-emotional learning (“SEL”) is another such approach with promising evaluations. SEL focuses on building positive social relationships and managing emotions. Schools develop a SEL curriculum that is either taught to students as a learning unit or integrated across existing curriculum. SEL programs in schools have also been evaluated and such programs tend to reduce misbehavior and improve mental health skills. David Osher, George G. Bear, Jeffrey R. Sprague, & Walter Doyle, How Can We Improve School Discipline?, 39 EDUC. RES. 48, 48–58 (2010).
  103. See POSITIVE BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTIONS & SUPPORTS, (last visited Dec, 5 2015).
  104. See, e.g., George Sukai & Robert R. Horner, A Promising Approach for Expanding and Sustaining School-wide Positive Behavior Support, 35 SCH. PSYCHOL. REV. 245, 247 (2006).
  106. See Mara Schiff & Gordon Bazemore, “WHOSE KIDS ARE THESE?” JUVENILE JUSTICE AND EDUCATION PARTNERSHIPS USING RESTORATIVE JUSTICE TO END THE “SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE,” in KEEPING KIDS IN SCHOOL AND OUT OF COURTS: A COLLECTION OF REPORTS TO INFORM THE NATIONAL LEADERSHIP SUMMIT ON SCHOOL-JUSTICE PARTNERSHIPS 68, 72 (Albany, NY: N.Y. State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children 2012). See generally Stinchcomb & Bazemore, supra note 75 (discussing alternatives to zero-tolerance punishment).
  107. Schiff & Bazemore, supra note 106, at 72.
  108. Id. at 78.
  109. Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah & Alex Richards, CPS: Expulsion Rate Higher at Charter Schools, CHICAGO TRIBUNE (Feb. 26, 2014),
  110. Id.
  111. James Vaznis, Charter Schools Suspend More than Traditional Schools, BOSTON GLOBE (Nov. 19, 2014),
  112. Id.
  113. See Philadelphia’s District and Charter High Schools: How are they Doing?, THE NOTEBOOK (Sept. 12, 2014, 10:16 AM), (last visited Nov. 23, 2015); see also Discipline Data: Charters vs. Noncharters, EDUC. WEEK (Jul. 20, 2015),
  115. Id.
  116. Id. at 5.
  117. Id.
  118. Id. at 5–8.
  119. Id.
  120. Id. at 5.
  121. Id. at 6.
  122. Id. at 17; see also 22 PA. CODE § 12.8(b)(iii) (2005).
  124. Id.
  125. Id.
  126. Joan F. Goodman, Charter Management Organizations and the Regulated Environment: Is It Worth the Price? 42 EDUC. RES. 89, 89 (2013).
  127. Charters are primarily, but not exclusively, found in cities. See Trip Gabriel, Despite Push Success at Charter Schools is Mixed, N.Y. TIMES, May 1, 2010,; Niraj Choksi, Charter schools are hurting urban public schools, Moody’s says, WASH. POST (Oct. 15, 2013),; Charter Schools Pose Greatest Credit Challenge to School Districts in Economically Weak Urban Areas, MOODY’S (Oct. 15, 2013),–PR_284505.
  128. For example, some districts place differing constraints on charter schools and states have varying regulations that affect charter schools. Likewise, some states have specific statutes and regulations focused on school discipline practices.
  129. We submitted our open records request in compliance with Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law. 65 PA. CONS. STAT. § 67.101 (2015).
  130. The charter chains, each of which uses a single code for all of its schools, are: Belmont (two schools); KIPP (two schools); Mastery (fourteen schools); and Universal (seven schools).
  131. All codes are available at
  132. The assessment rubric is on file with the authors and available upon request.
  133. Additionally, an initial version of the content analysis rubric was tested by all three of the authors on charter school codes of conduct from the local and national charter chains that operate in Philadelphia and from a randomly selected set of stand-alone charter schools. Twenty codes were analyzed during this pilot study. Questions that produced inconsistent, unclear, or meaningless results were either omitted from the final version of the content analysis rubric or reworded for clarity.
  134. These schools include: Delaware Valley Charter School, Folk Arts—Cultural Treasures Charter School, Freire Charter School, Global Leadership Academy Charter School, Harambee Institute of Science, Keystone Academy Charter School, New Media Technology Charter School, Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter School, and Philadelphia Montessori Charter School.
  135. These schools include: Birney Preparatory Charter School, Christopher Columbus Charter School, Delaware Valley Charter School, Discovery Charter School, Eastern University Academy, Folk Arts—Cultural Treasures Charter School, Global Leadership Academy Charter School, Harambee Institute of Science, Laboratory Charter School, Multi-cultural Academy Charter School, New Foundations Charter School, Philadelphia Academy Charter School, Philadelphia Montessori Charter School, Sankofa Freedom Academy, World Communications Charter school, Young Scholars Frederick Douglass Charter School, and Young Scholars Charter School.
  136. See discussion infra at V.B.3 for further examples of vague language.
  137. When determining if a school used expulsion as a disciplinary response, we did not include mention of the expulsion for weapons offenses pursuant to Pennsylvania’s Act 26, which requires expulsion if a student brings a weapon on to school property.
  138. These schools include: Eastern University Academy, Friere Charter School, Global Leadership Academy Charter School, Harambee Institute of Science, Imhotep Institute Charter High School, Independence Charter School, KIPP Philadelphia Charter School, KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy, Maritime Academy, New Media Technology Charter School, Pan American Academy Charter School, Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School, Preparatory Charter School of Mathematics, and YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School.
  139. These schools include: Belmont Academy Charter School, Eastern University Academy, Global Leadership Academy Charter School, Imhotep Institute Charter High School, KIPP Philadelphia Charter School, KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy, Laboratory Charter School, Philadelphia Montessori Charter School, Young Scholars Charter School, and YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School.
  140. For example, the code for Green Woods Charter School does not mention “zero tolerance,” but suspensions are required for fighting. GREEN WOODS CHARTER SCHOOL STUDENT/PARENT HANDBOOK, DISCIPLINE POLICY AND ATTENDANCE POLICY 19 (2014–2015), available at [hereinafter GREEN WOODS HANDBOOK].
  141. This count excludes codes that only require expulsions for weapons offense, which is required of all schools under Act 26. 24 PA. CONS. STAT. §13-1317.2 (2015).
  142. Again, this count excludes codes that only require expulsions for weapons offense, which is required of all schools under Act 26. 24 PA. CONS. STAT. §13-1317.2 (2015).
  143. The schools include: Alliance for Progress Charter School, Birney Preparatory Charter School, Christopher Columbus Charter School, Keystone Academy, Mariana Bracetti Academy, Pan American Academy Charter School, Philadelphia Charter School for Arts and Sciences, Tacony Academy Charter School, and all of the Universal charter schools.
  144. See, supra note 103.
  145. This includes explicit mention of “restorative justice” and “restorative practices,” along with mention of various activities that are frequently use in the restorative justice approach.
  146. At the time, the Mastery chain included: Clymer Elementary, Pastorius Elementary, Grover Cleveland Elementary, Harrity Elementary, Mann Elementary, Smedley Elementary, Thomas Elementary, Lenfest Campus, Hardy Williams Charter, Mastery Charter Prep Middle, Pickett Campus, Shoemaker Campus, Simon Gratz High, Thomas Campus. The Universal chain included: Alcorn Elementary, Alcorn Middle, Audenried Charter, Bluford Charter, Creighton Charter, Daroff Charter, Universal Institute Chater, Vare Charter.
  147. These schools include: Belmont Academy, Boys Latin of Philadelphia, Christopher Columbus Charter School, Delaware Valley Charter School, Franklin Towne Charter High School, Global Leadership Academy Charter School (uses “character points”), Mariana Bracetti Academy, Maritime Academy (uses a “citizenship grade”), Math, Science and Technology Charter School, Philadelphia Academy Charter School, Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter School, Southwest Leadership Academy, World Communications Charter School, Young Scholars Frederick Douglass Charter School, Young Scholars Charter School, Young Scholars Kenderton.
  148. See, e.g., DELAWARE VALLEY, DELAWARE VALLEY CHARTER SCHOOL’S CODE (2014–2015), available at
  151. The Code of Student Conduct is available in Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, French, Khmer, Nepali, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA, Translated Document Management (last visited Nov. 18, 2015).
  152. Some schools have multiple locations but provided just one disciplinary code to the District. We have counted each of those schools, including the Mastery and Universal school systems, as having provided a code. See, e.g., MASTERY CHARTER SCHOOLS, (last visited Nov. 18, 2015).
  153. For example, Sankofa Freedom Academy’s code was incomplete. SANKOFA FREEDOM ACADEMY, SANKOFA FREEDOM ACADEMY CODE OF GOOD CONDUCT (2014–2015), available at
  154. For example, Christopher Columbus Charter School’s code was not downloadable. CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS CHARTER SCHOOL, PRINCIPLES AND PROCEDURES FOR STUDENT BEHAVIOR (2014–2015) available at
  155. For example, First Philadelphia Charter School’s code was on their website, but only accessible through a hyperlink on their “Fast Facts” page, which is not an intuitive location for the code. Additionally, the code posted was different from the code provided to the School District of Philadelphia. FIRST PHILADELPHIA PREPARATORY CHARTER SCHOOL, Fast Facts (last visited Nov. 18, 2015).
  156. For example, the code for the Philadelphia Montessori Charter School pertained to a previous school year. PHILADELPHIA MONTESSORI CHARTER SCHOOL, CODE OF RESPONSIBILITY RESPECT AND SELF-CONTROL (2014–2015, available at
  157. For example, the code of conduct posted online by the Universal chain differed from the code provided to the district. Compare UNIVERSAL FAMILY OF SCHOOLS, CODE OF CONDUCT (2014–2015) with NORTHWOOD ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL, CODE OF CONDUCT (2014–2015), available at
  158. For example, the Northwood Academy Charter School website included additional rules with regard to bullying and uniform policies. The code provided on Belmont Academy’s website was also more extensive. NORTHWOOD ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL, CODE OF CONDUCT (2014–2015), available at
  159. UNIVERSAL FAMILY OF SCHOOLS, CODE OF CONDUCT 9 (2014–2015), available at
  160. UNIVERSAL COMPANIES, Universal Audenried Charter High School, (last visited Nov. 18, 2015).
  161. FIRST PHILADELPHIA PREPARATORY CHARTER SCHOOL, CODE OF CONDUCT 4–5 (2014–2015), available at The Code provided by the Philadelphia Montessori Charter School is dwarfed by the extensive additional policies that appear on its website; see also GLOBAL LEADERSHIP ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOl, STUDENT CONDUCT AND DISCIPLINE (2014–2015), avaiable at The GLA code provided to the District is primarily limited to a description of the purpose for a code, the CEO’s authority to make rules, and a general description of the impact on a student if the student loses points on the Character Point Scale. But there is no listing of the behaviors that result in point loss. The only list is of behaviors that will result in expulsion. The code on the school website lists numerous additional behaviors that can result in loss of character points and that can result in expulsion including “[b]latant disregard for the Code of Character.” GLOBAL LEADERSHIP ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL, Global Leadership Academy Parent & Scholar Handbook 27 (2014–2015), available at
  162. FACTS provided translations of the code into at least three Asian languages; and Tacony Academy Charter School provided a Spanish version. The Community Academy Charter School code has a listing in Spanish providing a telephone number for questions.
  163. MARIANA BRACETTI ACADEMY CS, (last visited Nov. 18, 2015).
  164. ESPERANZA ACADEMY CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL, (last visited Nov. 23, 2015).
  165. PAN AMERICAN ACADEMY CS, (last visited Nov. 23, 2015).
  166. SCHOOL REFORM COMMISSION, CODE OF STUDENT CONDUCT 6 (2015–2016), available at
  167. Id. at 10–11.
  168. See, e.g., MASTERY CHARTER SCHOOLS STUDENT-PARENT HANDBOOK 17–18 (2014–2015), available at (providing clear definitions of prohibited behaviors)
    “Disruptive Behavior” defined as Students are expected to follow the rules that individual teachers have established for student conduct in their classrooms. No student’s behavior can be permitted to disrupt the learning of others. Violations include:
    Disruptive behavior, including disruptive outbursts, talking while others are talking, throwing objects, and inappropriate gestures and sounds;
    Leaving class without permission and a hall pass; and
    Horseplay that includes but is not limited to pushing, shoving, kicking, or other physical contact and knowingly taking another’s property in a playful and/or confrontational manner.
  169. For example, the code provided by the Harambee Institute of Science Charter School, which is only two pages long, and requires “[r]espect, self-control and good citizenship . . . at all times,” along with “[g]ood table manners and appropriate cafeteria behavior,” but does not say what will happen if violations are committed other than a few references to communication to parents, Infraction Reports, and/or suspension. The code provided by the New Foundations Charter School is fascinatingly confusing. The code provides a high level of discretion to administrators along with lots of violations that are repeated or repeated with slight variations. NEW FOUNDATIONS CHARTER SCHOOL, CODE OF CONDUCT 2–6 (2014–2015), available at [hereinafter NEW FOUNDATIONS CODE]. For example, Level I Infractions include “[f]ailure to comply with any policy stated in this handbook or school or classroom rule” but Level II includes ”[f]ailure to comply with any policy/procedure stated in this handbook.” Id. Oddly, Level IV includes: “[f]ailure to reasonably comply with any school policy/procedure.” Id. The following are all listed as Level IV Infractions:
    Violation of Drug/Alcohol Policy including but not limited to possession, sale, solicitation, use of illegal drugs or alcohol and transfer of legal medication or medical equipment to other students
    Possession and/or use and/or transfer of matches, lighters, laser pointers or any incendiary devices, weapons, alcohol, or illegal substances/drugs
    Attempted or actual Possession/use/sale/solicitation of/manufacture and/or distribution of prescription or over the counter drugs or counterfeit drugs
    Attempted or actual Possession/use/sale/manufacturing/solicitation of/and/or distribution of non-prescription drugs or counterfeit non-prescription drugs
    Actual or attempted Possession, use, manufacturing, growing, distribution, solicitation of an/or sale of illegal drugs and/or counterfeit illegal drugs, and/or controlled substances and/or drug paraphernalia
    Several entries are listed in duplicate for no apparent reason:
    Threats of death or serious bodily injury—either written, electronic or verbal [listed twice]
    Other criminal acts in violation of local, state, or federal laws and/or regulations [listed twice]
    Harassment of another student, teacher, administrator or staff member, verbally, physically or through cyber medium
    Harassment of any kind—verbal, written or gestures
    Actual or attempted possession, distribution, sale, use or lighting of fireworks, stink bombs, or other explosives
    Possession, use, distribution, sale, lighting, or discharge of explosive or incendiary devices
    Possession, use, distribution, sale, lighting, or discharge of explosive devices.
    Some are just really vague:
    Illegal conduct and/or attempted illegal conduct
    Engaging in any activity which can reasonably be expected to have the effect of harassing, threatening or damaging the safety or reputation of any member of the school community.
    Last but not least: Engaging in any consensual sexual act is a Level IV violation.
    The repeated listing with variations could easily lead to confusion about exactly what behavior is prohibited or what consequences will ensue. Id.
  170. The New Foundations Code specifies that a student who persists in minor misconduct will face more serious disciplinary responses up to Level IV and can face expulsion as a result. NEW FOUNDATIONS CODE, supra note 169, at 1, 6 (Level 1 includes “[b]athroom misconduct/procedure” and “[f]ailure to comply with any policy stated in this handbook or school or classroom rule.”).
  171. The Boys Latin Charter School states “[a]t no time may a student express with words, gestures, or body language disrespect for a teacher, SSO, adult supervisor, employee or volunteer . . . [n]or may a student’s disrespectful behavior damage the reputation of Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia . . . . The teacher, SSO, etc. will be the interpreter of the disrespectful actions.” BOYS LATIN ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL, BOYS LATIN ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL STUDENT HANDBOOK 7 (2014–2015), available at MaST states that “MaST has the right to impose consequences for acts or behaviors that are not specifically delineated within this Code, if those acts or behaviors threaten the health, safety and/or welfare of members of the school community, or if those acts or behaviors disrupt the learning environment.” MASTERY, supra note 168, at 3.
  173. THE MASTERY CODE, supra note 168, undercuts the clarity of its definitions by introducing the list with a less specific characterization of each level and by stressing that the specific definitions are examples only. For example, “[l]evel 1 violations are actions that negatively impact Mastery’s high achievement culture and community of safety, respect, and cooperation. Level 1 Violations include, but are not limited to, the following.” Id. at 17.
  175. NORTHWOOD CODE OF CONDUCT, supra note 157, at 3.
  177. Id. at 7, 8; see also Russell Byers Charter School Code of Conduct, which has a clear list of violations and consequences but also provides the “[a] violation can receive the consequence identified, a lesser, or a more severe consequence depending on the severity of the violation, repetition of violations(s), or effect on others. This list is not exhaustive of behaviors that may result in disciplinary action.” RUSSELL BYERS CHARTER SCHOOL, CODE OF CONDUCT 2 (2014–2015), available at
  178. It is beyond the scope of this article to analyze whether this rigidity is an effective way to improve a school’s culture and to increase its students’ academic achievements. For thoughtful consideration of the ways that the no-excuses model may actually inhibit the critical reasoning and independence of students, see Joan Goodman, Charter Management Organizations and the Regulated Environment: Is It Worth the Price? 42 EDUC. RES. 89 (2013). Such models often employ the language of “making good choices” but do not actually present students with any choice other than compliance; see also Joanne W. Golann, The Paradox of Success at a No-Excuses School, 88 SOC. OF EDUC. 103 (2015). Golann examines how the non-excuses model’s emphasis on control can have the unintended effect of reducing their students “interactional skills,” the skills of self-assertion, creativity, independence, and assertiveness, which are fostered in the more middle-class schools with more privileged students. Id. at 113. The emphasis on control and compliance instead can place the no-excuses students at a disadvantage in higher education where the interactional skills are valued. Id. at 105.
  179. Belmont Academy, Boys Latin, CHAD, Community Academy—can expel for three uniform violations, Eastern, Franklin Towne Elementary School—specifying untucked shirt, Independence Charter, Keystone, Khepera, KIPP, Mariana Bracetti, Maritime, Memphis Street Academy, Multicultural Charter, New Foundations, Northwood, Esperanza—can expel for three uniform violations, Pan American, Philadelphia Academy, Philadelphia Performing Arts, Russell Byers, Tacony,Wissahickon,World Communications, West Oak Lane, Young Scholars, Young Scholars-Douglass, and YouthBuild.
  180. Mastery provides for transfer to an alternative school for repeated uniform violations. MASTERY, supra note 168, at 20.
  181. YOUNG SCHOLARS-DOUGLASS FAMILY GUIDE, supra note 174, at 5, 8 (emphasis in original).
  182. Id. at 7.
  183. WORLD COMMUNICATIONS CODE OF CONDUCT, supra note 149, at 13.
  185. Id. at 1–2 (emphasis in original).
  187. Id. at 9–10.
  193. Id.
  194. Id.
  197. Id. at 2.
  198. FREIRE HANDBOOK CODE OF CONDUCT 57 (2014–2015), available at
  199. GREEN WOODS HANDBOOK, supra note 140, at 51.
  200. Id.
  201. Id. at 48–49.
  203. Id. at 9–10.
  204. LABORATORY CHARTER, STUDENT CODE OF CONDUCT 5 (2014–2015), available at
  205. MARITIME ACADEMY CHARTER, STUDENT CODE OF CONDUCT 2, 4 (2014–2015), available at
  207. Id. at 19.
  210. Id. at 19.
  211. FREIRE CHARTER SCHOOL, CODE OF CONDUCT 40 (2014–2015), available at
  212. Id.
  213. Id.
  214. Id. at 41.
  215. Id.
  217. Id. at 11–12.
  218. Id. at 12.
  219. Id. at 14 (emphasis added).
  220. YOUNG SCHOLARS-DOUGLASS FAMILY GUIDE, supra note 174, at 4.
  221. Id.
  222. Id. at 18.
  223. Id. at 18, 19.
  224. Id.
  225. MASTERY, supra note 168, at 16.
  226. FREIRE CHARTER SCHOOL, CODE OF CONDUCT 61 (2014–2015), available at
  227. Id. at 61.
  230. Id. at 21.
  231. Id. at 22.
  234. WORLD COMMUNICATIONS CODE OF CONDUCT, supra note 149, at 13.
  235. Id. at 23.
  236. See, e.g., BOYS LATIN CODE OF CONDUCT, supra note 191, at 4–22. But students can be disciplined up to expulsion for failure to follow the Uniform Policy that is set out at 23–26. The Academic Policy notes that “[i]f academic dishonesty is documented in multiple classes, it can result in suspension or expulsion.” Id. at 29. While there is a cross-reference to the Uniform Policy within the Rules of Conduct section, there is no listing in that section for “academic dishonesty” only a listing for “Cheating and Plagiarism” on page nine, which says “See Academic Integrity Policy for more information.”
  237. BOYS LATIN CODE OF CONDUCT, supra note 191, at 23, 41.
  240. Id.
  242. GREEN WOODS HANDBOOK, supra note 140, at 31.
  243. THE PREPARATORY CHARTER SCHOOL, PREP CHART STUDENT/PARENT HANDBOOK 4, 16 (2014–2015) available at The School Performance Profile for Preparatory Charter School identifies 64.53% of its students as “economically disadvantaged.” School Fast Facts, PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOL PERFORMANCE PROFILE, (last visited Nov. 18, 2015).
  247. Id.
  248. 22 PA. CODE § 12.8 (2015).
  249. Id. §12.6(b)(1)(iv).
  250. Id. §12.8(c)(2)(i), (ii).
  251. Id. §12.8(c)(2)(v).
  252. Id.
  253. Id. §12.8(b).
  254. 22 PA. CODE § 12.6 (2005).
  255. 22 PA. CODE § 12.8(b) (2005).
  256. Id. at §12.8(b)(2), (b)(9).
  257. Charter School Law Act of 1997, 24 PA. CONS. STAT. § 17-1732-A (2015.)
  258. Id. at § 13-1317.2(a).
  259. Id.
  261. WORLD COMMUNICATIONS CODE OF CONDUCT, supra note 149, at 7.
  262. Id.