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Student Discipline - Faculty / Staff Guide

RESOURCES & FORMS

Disruptive classroom behavior by students has become an issue of concern to faculty throughout higher education. Unfortunately, more and more students believe it is appropriate to engage in behavior that is disruptive and/or threatening.

The Office of the Vice President of Student Services offers several options for dealing with these issues, including disciplinary referrals, mediation, and informal discussions. In order to assist faculty and students, the following guidelines have been developed to help faculty respond to these situations.

In order to foster a campus culture that promotes respect and civility, it is important that faculty recognize their responsibility for management of the classroom environment. Faculty members encounter fewer problems with student behavior when they clearly state their expectations about the importance of demonstrating respect in the classroom. If students are engaging in behavior that is not conducive to teaching or learning, faculty members should act by setting boundaries with these type of students.

The LACCD Code of Student Conduct is printed in the schedule of classes and catalog. It supports faculty in this endeavor by acknowledging that the nature of the educational process must be protected through the implementation and enforcement of appropriate policy surrounding due process rights. Faculty is encouraged to refer to the Code in their course syllabus. Examples of disruptive behavior which could be interpreted as violations of the Code include, but are not limited to: making loud or distracting noises, persisting in speaking without being recognized, or insults or threats of violence.

Both students and faculty members have some measure of academic freedom. As you know college policies on classroom disruption cannot be utilized to punish appropriate classroom dissent. A simple expression of disagreement with a faculty member is not in itself considered disruptive behavior.

Strategies to prevent and respond to disruptive behavior include the following:

  • Clarify standards for the conduct of your class. For example, if you want students to raise their hands for permission to speak, say so, using reminders as needed.

  • If you believe that inappropriate behavior is occurring, consider a general word of caution rather than warning a particular student (e.g. "We have too many conversations in the room right now. Can we please all concentrate on the same subject?")

  • If a student's behavior is irritating, but not disruptive, try speaking with the student after class. It is possible that the student is unaware of distracting habits or mannerisms, and does not have the intent to be offensive or disruptive.

  • There may be rare circumstances when it is necessary to speak to the student during class about his or her behavior. Try to do so in a friendly but firm manner, indicating that further discussion can occur after class. Public arguments and harsh language must be avoided at all times. Try to separate the person from the behavior, using appropriate "I" statements rather than accusatory "you" statements (e.g. "I am finding it difficult to continue presenting the subject material when you continually engage in side conversations. Could you please discontinue those conversations until after class?")

  • A student who persists in disrupting a class may be directed by the faculty to leave the classroom. The student discipline policy allows for the removal of disruptive students for the remainder of the class period and the following class period. Whenever possible, prior consultation should be undertaken with both the department chairperson.  For additional questions or concerns, contact the Dean, Support Services.

  • If a disruption is serious, and other reasonable measures have failed, the class may be adjourned and a sheriff officer summoned. Once the sheriff officers arrive, it is important that the faculty member write a detailed account of the incident. Identify witnesses as needed.