Guide to Disciplinary Tribunals
Students learn about their responsibilities as good citizens throughout their school careers. As a good citizen, every student is expected to follow the rules of Gwinnett County Public Schools, as well as the laws of the county, the state, and the nation.
To ensure that all students are familiar with behavior expectations in our schools, each year, GCPS provides a current version of the Student Conduct Behavior Code for parents and students to read. When the school believes a student has violated the code and a long-term suspension or expulsion should be considered, the school refers the student to a disciplinary tribunal.
The following frequently asked questions will further explain this process.
How does this process begin?
When a student is believed to have violated a rule(s) of the Student Conduct Behavior Code, the local school administration will conduct an investigation into the alleged misconduct. If the local school administration determines that the student has violated a rule of the code and has sufficient evidence to charge the student for the misconduct, the administrator will issue a consequence. In some cases, the administration will refer the student to a disciplinary tribunal.
If this is the case, the administration will attempt to contact the student’s parent or guardian to discuss the incident and advise of the date and time of the scheduled tribunal. Shortly after that, the school will mail a packet of information to the student’s home including the following:
- Notice of suspension
- Waiver of parent/guardian’s right to attend the tribunal (If parent/guardian chooses not to attend, must be signed and returned.)
- Map to the tribunal location
- A copy of the Student Conduct Behavior Code
- Procedures that will be followed in conducting the discipline tribunal, including the rights of the parent/guardian regarding the tribunal
Why a tribunal?
According to Georgia law, the local school principal may suspend a student for up to 10 days. If the principal recommends a suspension longer than 10 days, the student must be referred to a disciplinary tribunal because only the Gwinnett County Board of Education (BOE) is authorized to issue a suspension of greater than 10 days under state law (O.C.G.A. § 20-2-753, 2014).
At the disciplinary tribunal, a tribunal officer (acting on behalf of the BOE) will determine whether the student violated the code. The tribunal officer will issue a consequence for the rule violation(s).
Who attends the tribunal and what happens?
Students and their parents may be assisted by non-attorney advocates at student disciplinary tribunals. If the student or parents choose to have an advocate present, the Office of Student Discipline shall be notified by the student or parents at least one school day in advance of the tribunal. Unless the Office of Student Discipline has been notified one school day in advance that an advocate will be present, the tribunal will convene at the scheduled time stated in the tribunal notice letter, and the advocate will not be allowed to attend.
Advocates shall not be allowed to participate in a student disciplinary tribunal unless the parent of the student or the eligible student provides written authorization on the District’s forms authorizing the advocate to assist the parent and/or student.
Advocates shall be required to sign acknowledge and agree to abide by applicable confidentiality and privacy laws.
At the tribunal, the parent and/or eligible student may designate the Advocate as the individual to examine and cross examine witness and speak on behalf of the student.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the tribunal process, you may contact Dr. Byron Howard, Community Engagement Coordinator, in the Office of Student Discipline at 678-407-8885. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happens in the phases of a tribunal?
The tribunal is conducted in three phases.
Phase I is the evidentiary phase. The school and the student may present evidence and/or call witnesses to testify concerning the alleged misconduct. The tribunal officer will determine if the student has violated school rules. If the student has not violated any school rules, the student would return to school the next day.
However, if the student has violated school rules, the tribunal will move to Phase II.
Phase II is the records phase where the school’s representative presents the student’s grades, attendance, and discipline history.
Phase III is the final stage where the student, parent/guardian, and school staff have the opportunity to make final comments and then the tribunal officer renders a decision for a consequence.
What are the possible consequences?
Tribunal officers have a wide range of consequences available to them, including community service, restitution, the Creating Lasting Family Connections Class, in-school suspension, additional days of out-of-school suspension, and possible assignment to the Gwinnett InterVention Educational (GIVE) Center. Tribunal officers also have the authority to suspend a student for up to one year (365 calendar days) and also may recommend permanent expulsion to the Board of Education.
What is permanent expulsion?
A tribunal officer may submit a recommendation to the BOE for permanent expulsion in the most serious cases. The BOE would then review the case and determine if permanent expulsion is merited. A student who has been permanently expelled may not return to their school or attend any district school, including a GIVE Center.
What if I have additional questions?
Families with additional questions may contact the Office of Student Discipline at 770- 513-6607. Additional information also is included in the Student Conduct Behavior Code.
How do I find the Office of Student Discipline?
- Take I-85 to Highway 316.
- Travel east on Highway 316 toward Athens.
- Turn left at the first red light which is Hi Hope Road.
- Proceed past Gwinnett Online Campus and GIVE Center East which are both on the right.
- Enter the north parking lot of the GIVE Center East. The driveway is marked with a sign reading "Student Drop-off and Pick-up."
- Drive to the back of the GIVE Center East facility and park by the Office of Student Discipline.
Who do I contact for support if I have additional questions and concerns regarding the tribunal process?
Please contact Dr. Byron Howard, Community Engagement Coordinator, by email: email@example.com or by phone: 678-407-8885.
It is the policy of the Gwinnett County Public Schools not to discriminate on the basis of gender, age, race, color, disability, religion or national origin in any program or activity, employment, admission, service, treatment, admissions to facilities or access to any program or activity operated by the Board or in the employment practices of the Board.