Student Discipline and the Active Avoidance Doctrine

Danielle Weatherby - University of Arkansas School of Law
Vol. 54
Spring 2020
Page 491

While scholars have opined about the shortfalls and undesirable consequences of exclusionary discipline practices and offered intriguing solutions for reform, the discussion surrounding the legal consequences of a school’s active avoidance of discipline reform is scant. This Article attempts to fill that void. By examining the unique school-pupil relationship inherent in the often-misconstrued doctrine of in loco parentis, I argue that a school’s active avoidance of discipline reform results in educational deprivations that raise Substantive Due Process concerns. The combined effect of compulsory education laws and the liberty interest inherent in the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause trigger a legal duty to reform broken educational practices. The perpetuation of zero tolerance discipline violates this duty, under what I term the “Active Avoidance Doctrine.”

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