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Creating Codes of Conduct

The issues involved in the process of developing these codes of conduct constitute an important part of pedagogical debate and ongoing courtroom deliberation. For example, some judicial decisions have attempted to define those school requirements and regulations which a court would deem “reasonable.” Under these decisions, a properly written document must meet four criteria in order to carry a legal presumption of validity:

  • The rules had to be in writing: Regulations students had to obey without a specific verbal command must be in writing.
  • The rules had to be specific: Policies had to clearly stated to students, and without referring to an outside source or document the rules had to explain what was expected and what was prohibited.
  • The writing had to be authorized: The writer of the rules had to have the authority to define them.
  • The written rules had to be published: The code of conduct had to be printed and distributed, for example in student handbooks, in letters home to parents, in public announcements during class time and assemblies, and in postings on bulletin boards.

Richard Curwin, a professor of Education at San Francisco State University, devised criteria for making codes of conduct more effective. His suggestions were:

  • To use positive rather than negative statements
  • To be definite about proper and prohibited behavior
  • To be brief
  • To spell out consequences

Thus, the courts began the process of educating the educators on how to arrange the business of school so that when it responded to misbehavior its rulings would be deemed valid in the legal setting.

Inside Creating Codes of Conduct