Student Behavior and Conduct
School Attendance (Policy 4400)
Under state law, all children between the ages of 7 (or younger if enrolled) and 16 shall be in school, except for those legitimate, lawful reasons for temporary nonattendance as set forth by the NC State Board of Education. The following is a list of the valid lawful reasons for temporary nonattendance of a child at school, provided satisfactory evidence of the absence is given to the appropriate school official.
- Illness or Injury: when the absence results from illness or injury which prevents the student from being physically able to attend school.
- Quarantine: when isolation of the student is ordered by the local health officer or by the State Board of Health.
- Death in the Immediate Family: when the absence results from the death of a member of the immediate family of the student. For purposes of this regulation, the immediate family of a student includes, but is not necessarily limited to grandparents, parents, brothers, and sisters.
- Medical or Dental Appointments: when the absence results from a medical or dental appointment of a student.
- Court or Administrative Proceedings: when the absence results from the attendance of a student at the proceedings of a court or an administrative tribunal if the child is a part of the action or under subpoena as a witness.
- Religious Observance: a minimum of two days each academic year when the tenets of a religion to which a student or his parent/guardian adhere require or suggest a religious observance or event.
- Pregnancy: pregnancy and related conditions or parenting when medically necessary.
- Military Visitation: visitation with a parent/legal guardian, at the discretion of the superintendent or designee, if parent/legal guardian (a) is an active duty member of the uniformed services and (b) has been called to duty for, is on leave from, or has
- Educational Opportunity: when it is demonstrated that the purpose of the absence is to take advantage of a valid educational opportunity such as travel or service as a legislative or Governor’s page. The principal’s approval for such an absence must be gained prior to the absence.
- Post-Secondary Education: with prior approval of principal, up to two days each academic year for a high school junior or senior to visit college campuses in order to qualify for scholarships, attend orientation sessions, or determine whether to apply for admission.
When a student is absent for any of the reasons listed above, he or she shall provide appropriate documentation of that absence as lawful as required by policy of the local school and as made known to parents through the school handbook. Such documentation shall be kept on file. If there is any question regarding lawful absences, a person designated by the principal shall make contact with the parent or guardian of the child.
If a student is to be absent for medical or dental appointments, court or administrative proceedings, religious observances, or educational opportunities, the parent shall, except in emergencies, file the excuse and the dates for absences with the principal ahead of the date that the student is to be absent.
Attendance at school-sponsored activities such as field trips, athletic contests, student conventions, and so forth, with approval of appropriate school authorities, are to be regarded as "being in attendance."
A student shall be recorded present in school when participating in any disciplining techniques grouped under the term "in school suspension”. Absences resulting from out of school suspension shall not deny the student the opportunity to make up missed assignments or take quarterly, semester, or grading period examinations missed during the period of suspension (G.S. 115C 390.5).
Attendance in school for the full time allotted for classes is essential for student success. Unexcused Tardies/Early Dismissals cost your child valuable educational instruction. They also interrupt the learning process for other students. Additionally, punctuality is an important trait to reinforce at school. Students are expected to arrive at school and class on time and stay for the entire day of instruction.
Lawful absences are still absences and are counted as such. However, student grades may not be lowered as a result of the lawful absences. Tests and work missed may be made up by the student within a reasonable period of time. A reasonable period will be determined at the school level.
Decisions concerning the lowering of a grade, making up work, or taking a major test shall be left to the discretion of the principal in cases of unlawful absences.
Required Attendance for Students in Grades K-8
Students are required to be in attendance at least 160 school days to receive required credit. Any exception to this policy shall be ruled on by the principal.
Parents who are denied an exception may appeal the decision to the Board of Education. Requests for a board hearing must be received in the Superintendent’s office no later than the fifth business day after grades are reported.
Required Attendance for Students in Grades 9-12
High school students may be absent no more than ten (10) periods per course in order to receive credit. Both lawful and unlawful absences are counted in determining that attendance requirements for course credit have been met. Any exception to this policy shall be ruled on by the principal.
A high school student who is absent from a course for a total of eleven (11) or more periods (after all make-ups and waivers are applied) will fail that course. At the discretion of the principal, a high school student who is passing a course and has been absent from the course at least eleven (11) but no more than fifteen (15) periods may be provided an opportunity to make up missed time. Each high school will provide sufficient make-up opportunities to allow a student to make up fifteen (15) class periods per semester, if the work is made up in a reasonable amount of time. A high school student who is passing a course and has missed eleven (11) or more periods of the course may appeal to the principal for a waiver of his or her lawful absences.
There will be no school-level appeal or option for students who are absent more than 15 periods in a course.
To provide some degree of system-wide uniformity and consistency, the following waiver considerations are recommended in grades 9-12:
- Necessary Medical Absences – with doctor’s note (Note: Routine doctor/dental appointments should be scheduled outside the school day)
- Homebound – served by a homebound teacher
- Home recovery – doctor’s recommendation
Absences that are waived do not have to be made up.
Attendance Makeup Options
A student, who is passing a course and has amassed less than fifteen (15) absences in the course after waivers, if any have been granted, may appeal to the principal for a makeup ruling. The principal has the option to do any or all of the following:
- Assign a student to after-school make-up and require one and a half (1 ½) class periods to be made up for each class period missed. Example: missing a 90-minute class requires 135 minutes of make-up.
- Assign a student to Saturday make-up and require one and a half (1 ½) class periods to be made up for each class period missed. Example: missing a 90-minute class requires 135 minutes of make-up.
- Assign a student to a teacher workday make-up and require one and a half (1 ½) periods to be made up for each period missed. Example: missing a 90 minute class requires 135 minutes of make-up.
Note: Each high school shall provide sufficient make-up opportunities to allow the make-up of a maximum of fifteen (15) class periods per student per semester.
Appeals concerning a principal’s denial of waivers or appeals concerning absences of more than fifteen (15) periods shall be made to the Pitt County Board of Education at the conclusion of the semester in which the absences occurred. Requests for a Board hearing must be received in the Superintendent’s office no later than the fifth (5th) business day after grades are reported.
Noncompliance with the General Compulsory Attendance Law (NCGS 115C-378):
The parent, guardian, or custodian of a student shall notify the school of the reason for each known absence of the student in accordance with the Pitt County Schools policy.
Whenever a student has accumulated three unlawful absences in a school year, the principal or his/her designee shall notify the parent, guardian, or custodian of the student's excessive absences. After not more than six unlawful absences, the principal or his/her designee shall notify the parent, guardian, or custodian by mail that he/she may be in violation of the Compulsory Attendance Law and may be prosecuted if the absences cannot be justified under the established attendance policies of the State and of the Pitt County Schools. Following this notification, the counselor or school social worker shall work with the student and the family to eliminate the attendance problems and may request that a law enforcement officer accompany him/her on a home visit.
After ten accumulated unlawful absences in a school year, the principal shall review any report or investigation prepared under G.S. 115C‑381 and shall confer with the student and his/her parent, guardian, or custodian if possible to determine whether the parent, guardian, or custodian has received notification pursuant to this section and made a good faith effort to comply with the law. If the parent, guardian, or custodian has not made a good faith effort, the principal shall notify the District Attorney. If the principal determines that the parent, guardian or custodian has made a good faith effort, he/she may file a complaint with the juvenile intake counselor. Evidence showing that the parent, guardian, or custodian of the student was notified of ten accumulated absences which cannot be justified by established policies of the Pitt County Schools shall constitute a prima facie case that the student's parent, guardian or custodian is responsible for the absences.
School Bus Conduct
Conduct and Safety Rules for School Bus Passengers
The school bus is an extension of the school. All school rules and regulations apply. Failure to comply with these rules and/or interfering with the safe transportation of students could result in consequences as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct.
Meeting and Entering the Bus
- Safe Route: In walking to a bus stop, passengers should select the safest route. If there is no sidewalk, they should walk on the left side of the street or highway on the road shoulder facing traffic.
- Being on Time: Passengers must be waiting at the bus stop prior to the arrival of the bus. The driver has a schedule to follow and cannot wait for tardy passengers.
- Waiting for the Bus: Passengers must stay off the street or roadway while waiting at a bus stop. They should never play, but pay attention to the traffic and move out of the way quickly if a vehicle appears to be closely approaching. As the bus arrives, they should never run alongside the bus or approach it, but wait until the bus comes to a complete stop. If the street or highway must be crossed to enter a bus, they should not cross until the bus and all traffic have stopped unless traffic is controlled at the crossing by stop and go signals.
- Entering the Bus: As soon as the bus has stopped, passengers should walk quickly (not run) to the bus. If the highway or street has to be crossed, passengers should look in all directions and make sure the way is clear of traffic, the bus door is open, and bus signals working before crossing. They should then walk quickly (not run) across the highway or street approximately ten feet in front of the bus in full view of the driver to the front bus entrance.
On the Bus
- Taking a Seat: Passengers entering the school bus should take their assigned seat quickly and remain seated. They should refrain from moving around in the bus when it is in motion.
- Opening Windows: Passengers must ask the driver for permission if a window needs to be opened.
- Keeping Inside: Passengers must keep their head, arms, and feet inside the bus at all times.
- Throwing Objects, Shouting, and Waving: Objects should never be thrown about in the bus or out of the window. Passengers should not shout and wave to pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles from bus windows.
- Eating: Passengers should never eat or drink on the school bus. Eating on a school bus can be dangerous.
- Keeping the Aisle Clear: Passengers should never pile books, musical instruments, lunch boxes, or other objects in the bus aisle. If personal belongings are carried, they should be kept on the lap or put under the seat. Arms and legs must be kept out of the aisle when possible.
- Indecent Language, Tobacco: Passengers must not use profane, indecent language or use tobacco products while riding on a bus.
- Diverting the Driver’s Attention: Passengers shall not be loud, boisterous, or distract the driver's attention in any other way. They shall not talk to the driver, except in an emergency, while he is operating the bus.
- Playing: Playing or scuffling on the school bus will not be tolerated.
- Railroad Crossings: Passengers must maintain complete silence at all railroad crossings.
- Emergency Door: Passengers must never tamper with the emergency door or any other part of the bus. An open emergency door is very dangerous while the bus is in motion.
- Care of the Bus: Passengers must never mar or deface the bus in any way. They shall not cut or damage seat coverings. Passengers are to pay for any damage they cause
- Fire Extinguishers and First Aid Supplies: Passengers must never tamper with the fire extinguishers and first aid supplies. The fire extinguishers and first aid supplies are placed in the school bus only for the driver to use in an emergency.
- Bus Assignment: Passengers shall not ride on a school bus unless assigned to it by the principal.
- Arrival on the School Grounds
- Remain Seated: Passengers shall remain seated until the bus reaches the unloading area, has come to a complete stop, and the driver has opened the front door.
- Front Passengers First Off: Passengers shall not rush to get off the bus. Passengers in front should move out first. They should walk quickly and in an orderly manner to the front, hold the handrail, and step out of the bus. They must never leave the bus through the emergency door or window except in an emergency.
- Move Away from Bus: Passengers shall not loiter or play near a stopped bus, but shall walk quickly away from the bus to the school building.
- Parking Area Restricted: During the school day, all persons shall stay away from the bus parking area. They must never re-enter a bus during the school day without permission of the principal, and must never eat lunch or play in a bus.
- Use Care: Passengers should be careful not to hit the driver or other students with their book bags when entering or exiting the bus.
Entering the Bus After School
- Follow Instructions: Passengers shall obey and follow instructions of the principal and teachers in a planned system for going to the bus parking area and entering the bus after school.
- Be Orderly: Passengers shall not run but walk quickly to the bus and get on as soon as the principal, teacher, or bus driver permits.
- Take Places Quietly: After entering the bus, passengers shall take their places and be quiet so the driver and all passengers can hear instructions. Passengers will sit in their assigned seats.
- Written Permission: If a friend is going home with a passenger, he/she will have written permission from the principal before the driver will allow him/her to ride.
Leaving the Bus En Route Home
- At Unassigned Stop: A passenger must leave the bus only at his/her designated stop. Only with permission of the principal will the driver be permitted to let a passenger leave the bus at any stop not designated for him/her.
- At Stores or Service Stations: Passengers must not get off the bus at unauthorized stops to make purchases, visits, or perform errands. Neither shall they request the driver to make unauthorized stops for such purposes. The driver is not permitted to make accommodations of this kind.
- At Assigned Stop: When the bus arrives at the assigned stop, passengers shall remain in position until the bus has completely stopped, then walk quickly to the front of the bus. No passengers should attempt to open the door, but should wait for the driver to open it. When the door is opened, passengers getting off the bus shall hold the handrail, watch the steps, and alight from the bus with caution.
- Care in Leaving Bus Stop: If the highway must be crossed after getting off the bus, passengers shall move about ten feet to the front of the bus, make certain the stop signal is extended, and all traffic is stopped. On a signal from the driver, each passenger must look both ways, make sure the way is clear, and walk quickly in full view of the driver across the highway or street. Each must be sure to stay out of the line of traffic until the roadway is free from any danger. If the highway is not crossed after getting off the bus, passengers shall move quickly away from the bus in view of the driver, and go directly home. They must never remain near the bus to talk with or touch hands with bus passengers. In crossing in front of a school bus, passengers should never stop for any reason unless they have first informed the driver of this intention. After passengers have alighted and moved away from a bus at a bus stop on the route or on the school grounds, they should not return to the bus without first getting the attention of the bus driver.
Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities, like all other students, are subject to disciplinary action(s) pursuant to the written rules of state and local education agencies.
However, school bus disciplinary or suspension action requires an IEP review when this service is being provided as a related service. A student with a disability may not be subjected to punitive action solely on the basis of the disability.
If the behavior is of danger to the driver and/or to students, transportation may be interrupted. Such interruption should result in an emergency IEP meeting to determine the relationship of the behavior causing disciplinary action to the child's disability, and to determine alternative transportation services or methods.
Student Searches (Policy 4342)
Random Use of Metal Detectors/Drug Dogs:
Board Policy 4342 authorizes general random searches from time to time using metal detectors and certified narcotics detection dogs for the purpose of maintaining a safe and orderly school environment and for upholding standards of conduct established by the Board or the school. Such general random searches do not require reasonable suspicion or student or parent consent. This is notice that such searches may occur from time to time during the school year, with the prior approval of the Superintendent, as follows:
- School officials may use metal detectors from time to time at certain school entry points or in certain areas of the school to screen students and visitors and their belongings for weapons. This will be done in a minimally-intrusive and nondiscriminatory manner. A student’s failure to permit such a check will be considered grounds for disciplinary action including possible suspension.
- A certified narcotics detection dog and a qualified and authorized trainer may conduct from time to time a search for illegal or unauthorized substances, accompanied by the principal or other administrator. Areas likely to be inspected include student lockers, hallways, restrooms and other common areas. Student belongings, including backpacks and purses, may be inspected by the dog and trainer, but at no time will students be present where the inspection is taking place or come into contact with the narcotics detection dog.