If you are dealing with students in difficulty
- Be aware of location of nearest telephone, whether it is within the building or a personal cell phone.
- If the student is a threat to others, call Life University Campus Safety at ext. 2911 and also report it to the Student Behavioral Assessment Team (link to online reporting form: https://publicdocs.maxient.com/reportingform.php?LifeUniv&layout_id=1).
- If the student is causing classroom disruption but not a threat to others, discuss with the student individually, your department chair or director and/or report to the Assistant Dean of Community Living.
- You may always ask the disruptive student to leave the classroom at the time of the disruption; however, he/she is permitted to return the next class period unless the student is removed permanently pursuant to applicable procedures.
If in doubt, always call Campus Safety!
(Adapted from materials obtained from the University of Central Florida)
SBAT – Student Behavioral Assessment Team
The purpose of the Student Behavioral Assessment Team (SBAT) is to proactively identify student behaviors of concern in order to provide a coordinated and planned approach to preventing, assessing, managing and resolving interpersonal and behavioral concerns and threats to the Life University community; and to make recommendations for treatment, disciplinary action and/or other responses to the Vice President of Student Affairs and other campus officials as appropriate, with the ultimate goal of promoting student health, safety and success within a thriving educational environment.
- Provide a safe, physical environment for members of the LIFE community.
- Provide a safe, emotional environment for members of the LIFE community.
- Promote peace of mind for friends and family of the LIFE community.
- Balance the individual needs of the student and those of the greater LIFE community.
- Provide a structured, positive method of addressing student behaviors of concern which impact the LIFE community, including mental health and/or issues of physical and emotional safety.
- Manage each case individually, discreetly and effectively.
- Initiate appropriate intervention in an effort to overt the need for punitive measures.
- Facilitate a coordinated response for students within and across relevant departments, as appropriate.
- Balance the educational, physical and emotional needs of the student and the academic and philosophic missions of Life University.
- Serve as a resource for students, faculty and staff regarding issues and needs pertaining to student behavior.
To report a student to SBAT, please use the following link: https://publicdocs.maxient.com/reportingform.php?LifeUniv&layout_id=1.
Q & A ON CLASSROOM OR OFFICE DISRUPTION
*Answers regarding classroom behavior can also be applied to students interacting with staff in their offices or departments.
Adapted from the ASJA Law & Policy Report, No. 26 | Copyright: ASJA & Gary Pavela: All rights reserved
How should disruptive behavior in the classroom be defined?
“We define ‘classroom disruption’ as behavior a reasonable person would view as being likely to substantially or repeatedly interfere with the conduct of a class. Examples include repeated, unauthorized use of cell phones in the classroom; persistent speaking without being recognized; or making physical threats.”
How can disruptive behavior be discouraged?
“Classroom disruption is rare. The likelihood of encountering it can be further minimized by stating reasonable expectations in advance. For example, if you want beepers and cell phones turned off in class, say so in your syllabus and on the first day of class. Explain the reasons for your classroom expectations and invite student comments and suggestions. You will find that students are often the strongest supporters of classroom decorum. Most students want to help you create a positive and productive learning environment.”
How should I respond when classroom disruption occurs?
“Faculty members have broad authority to manage the classroom environment. One court compared teachers to judges, since both teachers and judges focus on relevant issues; set reasonable time limits; assess the quality of ideas and expression; and make sure participants are heard in an orderly manner.”
“While their ultimate goals may be different, judges and teachers need to exercise authority with compassion and self-restraint. It’s best to correct innocent mistakes and minor first offenses gently.”
“Also, if you believe inappropriate behavior is occurring, consider a general word of caution, rather than warning or embarrassing a particular student (e.g., a good approach is to say ‘we have too many private conversations going on at the moment; let’s all focus on the same topic’).”
“If the behavior in question is irritating, but not disruptive, try speaking with the student after class. Most students are unaware of distracting habits or mannerisms and have no intent to be offensive or disruptive.”
“There may be rare circumstances when it is necessary to speak to a student during class about his or her behavior. Correct the student in a courteous manner, indicating that further discussion can occur after class.”
“Overall, key factors in responding to apparent disruptive or uncivil behavior are clarity in expectations; courtesy and fairness in responses (making sure students have an opportunity to discuss the incident with you in a timely manner); and progressive discipline, in which students (in less serious cases) are given an opportunity to learn from the consequences of their misbehavior, and to remain in the class.”
What should I do in the face of persistent disruption?
“Current university policy states that a student who persists in disrupting a class may be directed by the faculty member to leave the classroom for the remainder of the class period and can refer the student to Student Conduct for judicial action. The student should be told the reason(s) for such action and be given an opportunity to discuss the matter with the faculty member as soon as practicable. Prompt consultation should also be undertaken with the department chair and the Assistant Dean of Community Living.”
When should I call the police?
“You should call Campus Safety whenever you believe there is any threat of violence or other unlawful behavior, including a student’s refusal to leave a class after being told to do so. Any threat of violence should be taken seriously. Err on the side of caution and notify the police as soon as you can.”
Should I act immediately or wait for a pattern of misbehavior to occur?
“It’s often a mistake to assume disruptive behavior will stop on its own. A fundamental tenet of progressive discipline is to document and respond to “small” incidents sooner rather than later. Early intervention – sometimes in the form of a ‘behavioral contract’ developed by the Assistant Dean of Community Living and a referring teacher – might help define needed boundaries for a student. Generally, teachers who state reasonable expectations early, and enforce them consistently, help students avoid the harsher consequences that flow from more serious infractions later.”
What confidentiality standards should I follow?
“The University will take appropriate disciplinary action in cases of proven classroom disruption. Consequently, you should discuss allegations against named or identifiable students only with individuals who have some role in the disciplinary process. Examples of people who usually have such a role include your department chair and the Assistant Dean of Community Living. A general rule to keep in mind is that you should refrain from sharing any personally identifiable information from student education records (like grades, or reports of misconduct) with any person (including a colleague) who has no educational interest in the information. If in doubt, confer with legal counsel.”
What if a disruptive student claims the disruptive behavior is the result of a disability?
“The fact that a student may have a disability should not inhibit you from notifying appropriate authorities (including Campus Safety, as needed) about disruptive behavior. Students with or without disabilities need to know they must adhere to reasonable behavioral standards. Setting and enforcing such standards may encourage students with disabilities to obtain needed therapy, and to take prescribed medications.”
“Disability claims and accommodation requests should be discussed with Student Disability Services. There is an established procedure students should follow if they have a disability and seek a reasonable accommodation.”
“Generally, while different rules apply in the elementary and secondary school setting, pertinent federal agencies and the courts have made it clear that an institution of higher education does not have to tolerate or excuse violent, dangerous or disruptive behavior, especially when that behavior interferes with the educational opportunities of other students. Colleges and universities may discipline a student with a disability for engaging in misconduct if it would impose the same discipline on a student without a disability.”
ASJA LAW AND POLICY REPORT
Wednesday July 18, 2001, No. 26
The above suggested “questions and answers on classroom disruption” for faculty members first appeared in *Synfax Weekly Report,* and are revised here.
ASJA Law and Policy Report (LPR) is written by Gary Pavela (firstname.lastname@example.org) and published weekly (except mid-December to mid-January, and the month of August). Copyright: ASJA and Gary Pavela: All rights reserved. Further transmission within ASJA member institutions is permitted, if the author and ASJA are credited as the source. Index, archives, and additional source materials will be available to ASJA members at http://asja.tamu.edu. The information and comments provided here are designed to encourage discussion and analysis. They represent the views of the author-not ASJA-and do not constitute legal advice. For legal advice the services of an attorney in your jurisdiction should be sought.
André L. Clanton
Assistant Dean of Community Living