If you are a public school student in Florida, you have rights. This handbook tells you about those rights, when you can use them, and when school officials and police can limit them. This handbook does not offer legal advice. Please use this as a reference for general information regarding your rights at school, and refer to your Student Handbook for your school’s policies.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights and civil liberties of every individual. The ACLU is committed to protecting students’ rights, and we have defended many young people whose rights were violated by their schools. The ACLU of Florida is our state’s ACLU affiliate and the state’s premier guardian of liberty. We are working daily in courts, the legislature, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States and the State of Florida. We have offices in Jacksonville, Pensacola, Tampa, and Miami, the state headquarters.

If you think your rights are being violated, contact us at www.aclufl.org.

Most of the rights discussed in this Handbook also apply to students in charter schools, which are public schools run independently of the school district. This information does not apply to private schools.

This Handbook is an amended version of “Know Your Rights: A Handbook for Public School Students in Florida” (2006) and “ACLU of Florida’s Public School Student Rights Handbook 2013.”  Prior editions of this Handbook should not be relied on.

This Handbook uses “Bluebook” citations to cite to sources of law and other support.[1] You can find most of the referenced statutes or cases through an Internet search, or you can ask a parent or lawyer for help.


What the ACLU Believes

  • The ACLU of Florida believes that public schools should treat students as responsible people, and that school rules should be reasonable and consistent with certain basic principles.
  • We believe that students should be free to express themselves as long as they do not threaten or intimidate others, or disrupt school activities.
  • We believe that schools should set a standard for reasonable responses to student conflicts.
  • We believe that school rules should be enforced fairly and consistently, with no student singled out, picked on, or favored. 
  • We believe that rules should be directly related to the educational program and have an educational purpose.
  • We believe that students’ behavior during off-school hours and away from school is none of the school’s business.
  • We believe that schools should adopt positive solutions over punishment, such as requiring students to read materials, participate in activities or seek counseling on tolerating differences.

Many of the ACLU’s beliefs are not reflected by current law, and there are many beliefs we have that courts may not accept. The ACLU’s beliefs may someday be the law in Florida—issues that you, as students, bring to us may help us shape the law for future students.


Your Constitutional Rights (and why you should care)

Getting an education isn’t just about books and grades; you’re learning how to participate fully in the life of this nation. To really participate, though, you need to know your rights. Knowing your rights is the first step in asserting them.

The Bill of Rights includes ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution that were created to protect the rights and liberties of everyone in the United States, to give each individual the freedom to live as he or she chooses, free from government control or interference.

Where does that leave students?

Over decades, judges and Supreme Court justices have arrived at a range of different answers, resulting in a patchwork of laws that loosely define the rights of students in public schools. Some schools have responded to the violent and tragic incidents at Columbine High School in 1999 and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 by cracking down on students’ rights and taking a “guilty until proven innocent” approach to discipline. Schools have also become stricter about security, searches, dress codes and student expression.

Schools should be safe, and students should not have to be afraid. But students must also be able to enjoy the freedoms that enable them to learn and thrive. After all, despite some restrictions, you do have rights, and laws exist that protect those rights. Schools are required to abide by those laws. But many schools routinely violate laws that were designed to protect students’ rights.


Do you think your rights are being violated?

Fight For Your Rights

Students often find themselves in situations where they believe their schools are violating their rights, but they’re not sure. That’s why it’s so important for you to actually learn and understand your rights so that you can speak up—in an organized, responsible, well-thought-out way—to change a policy or rule that you believe is unfair.

We hope that you will always stay informed, stay vigilant, and stay organized. Your rights are precious. They’re worth fighting to preserve.

Step One: Know Your Rights

  • Get a copy of your school’s Student Code of Conduct to review your school district’s written policies. Find out if your school has an official way of dealing with complaints.
  • Read this Handbook to learn about your rights and what you can do if they are violated.

Step Two: Keep Track of Details

  • As soon as possible, write a statement about the incident or violation that occurred. Include information on who was present, what happened, where and when it happened, and if you reported it.
  • Keep copies of any documents you submit or that the school gives to you.
  • If you feel safe doing so, ask for statements from witnesses, such as other students, school staff, and administrators.

Step Three: Find Allies and Organize

  • Organize a meeting of students (off-campus, if necessary) to discuss if and how the school may be violating students’ rights and what changes are needed. At the meeting, design a plan of action, which might include writing a complaint letter to the school board and school officials, sending out letters notifying parents of the violations, writing to local government officials about the violations, or distributing fliers to alert other students to the problem.
  • Enlist the support of sympathetic teachers, counselors, or parents for advice on how to address the problem.
  • Contact the ACLU of Florida or other organizations and ask for help.

Step Four: Meet with Decision-Makers

  • Find out who the ultimate decision-makers are (principal, school district superintendent, or school board) and investigate what steps you must take to bring your complaint to the ultimate decision-maker.

If you think something is unfair or unreasonable, speak up! Others might agree.

 


SECTION 1: School Discipline

“No state shall…deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. Constitution, Amend. XIV, Section 1

As a student, you have an obligation to obey your school’s written rules. But there are some limits on what the school can ban and how they can react. School rules must have a logical relationship to the school’s legitimate interests. They must also respect your fundamental rights, including your rights to free speech and due process.

What does Due Process mean in public schools?
While due process rights in schools are weaker than those present in criminal proceedings, disciplinary proceedings must at least be “essentially fair.”

The Basics

  • School officials may expel or suspend you for a wide range of actions, including “willful disobedience, open defiance of authority of a [school staff member], violence against persons or property, or any other act which substantially disrupts the orderly conduct of the school.”[2]
  • You may sometimes be disciplined for off-campus conduct. Be careful what you post online.
  • You and your guardian have a right to be notified of a suspension or expulsion and an opportunity to present your side.[3] You also have the right to appeal.
  • While corporal punishment is still allowed in some Florida counties, it cannot be “excessive.”[4]

Suspensions and Expulsions

Q: What are the grounds for suspension and expulsion?
A: Each school district has its own guide for school discipline. While Florida law allows for suspension, voluntary transfer to alternative school, and expulsion, it also encourages school districts to use interventions rather than depending solely on punishment.[5] You should consult your Student Code of Conduct or Student Handbook for a list of your District’s policies.

The principal, or someone designated by the principal, can expel you for “willful disobedience, open defiance of authority of a member or his or her staff, violence against persons or property, or any other act which substantially disrupts the orderly conduct of the school.”[6] The last part— “substantially disrupting orderly conduct”—is purposefully vague and encompasses a broad range of conduct.

Typical Reasons for Suspension and Expulsion

Typical grounds for suspension and expulsion include: (1) possession or distribution of drugs, (2) violence or threats of violence, (3) violation of the sexual harassment policy, (4) disruptive conduct in the classroom or on the bus, and (5) criminal charges off-campus.[7] Students may be disciplined or expelled for unlawful possession or use of any controlled substance upon the third violation,[8] but they may be subject to criminal prosecution after even the first violation.[9] Schools may suspend students for a third violation of the dress policy.[10]

If a student is removed from class for interfering with the teacher’s “ability to communicate effectively” with students or “with the ability of student’s classmates to learn,” the principal may place the student in another classroom or in-school suspension, or, “as appropriate,” may recommend out-of-school suspension or expulsion.[11] If the teacher does not consent to the student returning to that teacher’s class, a “placement review committee” must render a final determination as to placement within 5 days.[12]

Certain “disruptive” behaviors on the bus or at a bus stop—ranging from eating on the bus to placing body parts outside the window—could lead to suspension from the bus if they violate the district’s transportation policies, and they may also result in other disciplinary action by the school or criminal penalties being imposed.[13] For suspensions of bus-riding privileges, the principal or the principal’s designee must give written notice to the student’s parent and to the district school superintendent within 24 hours.[14]

Under Florida law, no student can be suspended for unexcused tardiness, lateness, absence or truancy.[15]

Q: Can my school expel me for being undocumented?
A: No, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a school cannot expel you based on the fact that you are undocumented.[16]

Types of School Punishments as defined by Florida Statutes § 1003.01

  • In-School Suspension: the temporary removal of a student from their regular school program and placement in an alternative program for 10 or fewer days (§ 1003.01(5)(b))
  • Out-of-School Suspension: the temporary removal of a student from all classes and other school activities (except as authorized by school official) for 10 or fewer days (§ 1003.01(5)(a))
  • Expulsion: the removal of the right and obligation of a student to attend a public school under certain conditions, for a period not to exceed the remainder of the term or school year and 1 additional year (§ 1.003.01(6))
  • Corporal punishment: the moderate use of physical force or physical contact by a teacher or principal as may be necessary to maintain discipline or to enforce school rule (§ 1.003.01(7))

Zero Tolerance

The ACLU of Florida is opposed to “zero tolerance” policies because students often end up being unreasonably suspended or expelled.

Each district school board is required by Florida law to adopt a policy of “zero tolerance.”[17]  Unfortunately for students, the courts are more likely to rule in favor of the school districts, saying that school officials’ goal of ensuring students’ safety outweighs concerns about students’ rights. That’s why we recommend advocating for creative solutions to these conflicts—outside the courtroom. You can gather a coalition of students, teachers, and parents to lobby your school board to get rid of “zero tolerance” policies that you believe may be unfair. The goal is to set standards for reasonable responses when students act out. 

While Florida law requires zero tolerance policies to apply equally to all students regardless of their economic status, race, or disability,[18] zero tolerance policies often lead to:

  • Extensive use of suspensions, expulsions, and other disciplinary measures;
  • Increased truancy and drop-out rates;
  • Unnecessary criminalization of minor infractions of school rules;
  • Discriminatory application of discipline;
  • Heightened school violence and behavior problems; and
  • Growth of the school-to-prison pipeline.[19]

A school board’s disciplinary actions based on zero tolerance may lead to intervention or arrest by the police.

Q: Am I eligible for a waiver of discipline or expulsion?
A: Possibly. You may be entitled to a waiver of discipline or expulsion related to drug possession if you: (1) offer information leading to the conviction of your supplier or if you voluntarily disclose your unlawful possession prior to arrest, and (2) complete a state-licensed drug-abuse program.[20] If you are in this situation, you should consult a lawyer.

Q: Can I appeal a decision based on zero tolerance policies?
A: Yes, a state appeals court may overturn a school board’s decision to expel you based on zero tolerance policies where the disciplinary order is not supported by “substantial, competent evidence.”[21] In the case of suspensions, the only initial judicial review is available through a trial court (as opposed to the state appeals court), and only where the suspension is alleged to have violated the constitution.[22]

Off-Campus Incidents

Students cannot be expelled for actions that occur off-campus that do not affect the school environment.[23] But schools are typically able to restrict off-campus conduct or speech that directly harms or disrupts on-campus life.

You can be suspended if you are charged with a felony or with a delinquent act that would be a felony if you were an adult, even if the alleged act takes place outside of school.[24] The school has to show, however, that the incident has an “adverse impact on the educational program, discipline or welfare in the school.”[25]

Students may be restricted, however, from extra-curricular activities (such as sports) based on off-campus activity because there is no constitutional right to participate in those activities.[26]

DID YOU KNOW? Nothing that you post online is private, not ever. What you post is one screenshot away from your family, your teachers, and your future. Internet posts, including texts, never go away, even if you think you’ve deleted them.  What you find funny or clever or sexy and flirty today can harm your future—your college admissions, your job, your family, or your career. Bottom line: don’t post anything you don’t want the world to see.

Speech

Be careful what you post online. Although off-campus speech cannot typically be the basis for punishment by school officials, it can be if it disrupts the school environment.  

Students have been suspended, expelled, and restricted from extracurricular activities based on their online activity, including what they email, text, tweet, or post on websites or social-media platforms. For example, your school may be able to punish you for off-campus speech that makes a threat against a teacher or another student or amounts to severe harassment.  But schools may not discipline students based on their off-campus online activity, even where it is “lewd or indecent,” where no substantial disruption of school could be reasonably forecasted by the online activity.[27]

What Are Your Rights?

Under Florida Statutes § 1006.09, these are your rights as a public student:

You may be suspended only in accordance with the school board’s rules. The principal or the principal’s designee must make a good-faith effort to employ parental assistance or other alternative measures prior to suspension, except in the case of emergency or disruptive conditions that require immediate suspension or in the case of a “serious breach of conduct” as defined by the school board’s rules.

Notice & Hearing

The principal or the principal’s designee shall make a good-faith effort to immediately inform a student’s parent by telephone of a student’s suspension and the reasons for the suspension. Each suspension and the reasons for the suspension shall be reported in writing within 24 hours to the student’s parent by United States mail.

If you are formally charged with a felony, or with a delinquent act that would be a felony if it was committed by an adult, you are entitled to a hearing before being suspended. The principal must immediately notify the student’s parent in writing of the specific charges, and the notice “shall stipulate a date for hearing which shall be not less than two (2) school days nor more than five (5) school days from postmarked date, or delivery, of the notice and shall also advise the parent of the conditions under which a waiver of suspension may be granted.”[28] You also have the right to have your parents and a lawyer present.[29] If you are suspended or expelled for reasons that don’t amount to a felony, however, you’re only entitled to “some kind of notice” and “some kind of hearing.”[30] Disciplinary proceedings do not require the same safeguards afforded criminal defendants. In any administrative proceeding, satisfying due process means that the proceeding must be “essentially fair.”[31]

Q: Can my school transfer me to another school?
A: Yes, if you are suspended or expelled. But your suspension “shall not affect the delivery of educational services to the student, and the student shall be immediately enrolled in a daytime alternative education program, or an evening alternative education program, where appropriate.”

Right to Appeal

If you are expelled, you can appeal to the relevant District Court of Appeal and argue that the expulsion was not supported by “substantial, competent evidence.”[32] Unfortunately, in the case of suspensions, the only initial judicial review is available through a trial court (as opposed to the state appeals court), and only where the suspension is alleged to have violated the constitution.[33]

Q: What are my rights as a student with a disability?
A: Schools must follow not only the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA),[34] but also Florida’s statutes[35] and regulations, including Florida Administrative Code Rule 6A-6.03312.[36] Under that regulation, a school may remove a student from their current education placements as specified in their IEP (individualized educational plan) for 10 school days or fewer for violating the code of student conduct.[37] If the removal is for more than 10 days, a “change in placement” has occurred.[38] “On the date on which a decision is made to make a removal that constitutes a change of placement because of a violation of a code of student conduct, the school district must notify the parent of that decision and provide the parent with a copy of the notice of procedural safeguards,” and within 10 days the school district, parent, and relevant members of the IEP team must determine whether the conduct was manifested by the student’s disability (a “manifestation determination”)—in other words, “whether the conduct in question was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student’s disability or whether the conduct in question was the direct result of the school district’s failure to implement the IEP.”[40] If so, the district must create or modify the student’s behavioral intervention plan.[39] If the team determines that the conduct was not a manifestation of the student’s disability, the school may discipline the student as any other student, except that the student must continue to receive educational services even if suspended or expelled.[41] If a parent disagrees with the manifestation determination, they may appeal by requesting an expedited due process hearing.[42] The hearing must occur within 20 days of the request, and the administrative law judge (ALJ) must make a decision within 10 days of the hearing.[43] The ALJ’s decision may be appealed a trial court (a state circuit court or federal district court).[44]

Under special circumstances, schools can remove students with disabilities to an alternative educational settings for 45 days or fewer without a manifestation determination if the student:

  1. possesses a weapon on school premises or at a school function;
  2. knowingly possesses or uses an illegal drug, or sells or attempts to sell a controlled substance; or
  3. inflicts serious bodily injury on another person on school premises or at school function.[45]

Corporal Punishment

Q: Is corporal punishment (“paddling” or spanking) legal in public schools in Florida?         
A: Yes, corporal punishment (CP) is permitted if your school district has a policy that allows it.  Florida is one of fifteen states that expressly allow schools to paddle.[46] According to the Florida Department of Education, 2,757 were paddled in the 2012-13 school year.[47]

Florida schools most often employ CP against elementary-school students.[48] In addition to causing particular harm to young victims of child abuse and neglect, corporal punishment teaches students that violence is an appropriate response to some problems.

The ACLU promotes an educational system that is free from punitive disciplinary methods such as corporal punishment. We believe no child should be hit.

Your Rights

For physical discipline to be used on a student, it must be done pursuant to a school board policy and in the presence of another adult.[49] Upon request, the student’s parent is entitled to a written explanation of the reason for the punishment and the name of the other adult who was present.[50] Although courts are deferential to school authorities who administer corporal punishment, the punishment cannot be “excessive” to the point of “shocking the conscience”—a student must show that “(1) a school official intentionally used an amount of force that was obviously excessive under the circumstances, and (2) the force used presented a reasonably foreseeable risk of serious bodily injury.”[51]

Q: What would be considered “shocking to the conscience”?
A: Each case varies, but the federal appeals court governing Florida, the Eleventh Circuit, has found that “choking a student until he lost his breath and sustained blue and red bruises and a scratch on his neck was not obviously excessive because the extent of the student’s bodily injury was not serious. By contrast, hitting a student in the eye with a metal weight lock, permanently destroying the eye, was obviously excessive,  as was striking a student with a metal cane on the head, ribs, and back with sufficient force to cause a large knot and continuing migraine headaches.”[52]


SECTION 2:   Law Enforcement in Schools

“The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."  U.S. Constitution, Amend. IV

Police and School Resource Officers

Under Florida law, “zero-tolerance policies are not intended to be rigorously applied to petty acts of misconduct and misdemeanors, including, but not limited to, minor fights or disturbances.”[53] Schools are not required to inform police of such “petty acts of misconduct,” such as disorderly conduct, minor acts of theft or vandalism, and even simple assault and battery.[54] Nevertheless, the increased presence of School Resource Officers in schools and application of harsh zero-tolerance policies have led to police involvement in minor school disciplinary matters—including disrespectful behavior, cursing, fights, and cell-phone violations—that used to be resolved by school administrators.

“[L]aw enforcement officers often lack training in working with young people and are not prepared to de-escalate, resolve conflict, or respond in developmentally appropriate manners.”[55] Their presence puts students at a much higher risk of being subject to school-based arrests, frequently for minor, even trivial, behavior. These arrests affect students of color and students with disabilities at disproportionately high rates. Although Black students represent only 21% of youth ages 10-17 in Florida, they account for almost half (47%) of all school‐related arrests.[56] Students are increasingly being reprimanded in courtrooms instead of principals’ offices and are facing jail time and criminal records instead of after-school detention. This makes students much less likely to graduate and much more likely to be involved in the criminal-justice system as an adult.

The ACLU does not think police officers should be routinely present in schools at all. Assigning police to schools leads to the criminalization of routine school discipline matters and encourages the school-to-prison pipeline.

 

School Safety Officer
A certified law enforcement officer stationed at a school who is either employed by a law enforcement agency or the school board and who has the power to make arrests (on or off school board property) for violations of law on school board property. Fla. Stat. § 1006.12(2)(a), 

School Resource Officer
A certified law enforcement officer stationed at a school who must abide by school board policies but who retains the powers and duties of a law enforcement official and is employed by a law enforcement agency. Fla. Stat. § 1006.12(1)(a)-(b).

Q: Can school officials let police come into my school and question or arrest students?
A: Yes, but no one can make you talk to police. You have the right to remain silent, but school resource officers and police do not have to inform you of this right, unless you are “in custody.” Calmly ask if you are free to walk away. If you are, respectfully do so. If you are not, then you are in custody and are entitled to “Miranda warnings” under the 5th Amendment. However, this restriction only applies to law enforcement officers. School staff may question students with police present without providing Miranda warnings, unless the police become more involved. You do not have to speak with law enforcement officials, but refusing to answer questions to school officials may enable the school to discipline you. Be careful what you say to school officials, especially when police are present. Anything you say can be used in your school disciplinary hearing or court case. You should ask to talk to parent or lawyer before speaking if possible.


Searches

Probable Cause vs. Reasonable Suspicion

In schools, school officials only need reasonable suspicion of a violation of the law or school rules to conduct a pat down for a weapon or to search you; and no warrant is needed.[57] Similarly, to search your locker, they need only reasonable suspicion that your locker has a prohibited or illegally possessed substance or object.[58] Reasonable suspicion simply requires school officials to reasonably suspect that the search will turn up evidence of a violation of law or school policy. For example, this requirement might be met by a student indicating that a classmate has a weapon; this would be enough reasonable suspicion for the official to conduct a pat down. Another example might be when a school official sees a student smoking and then wants to search their backpack for cigarettes. Reasonable suspicion is less demanding than the probable cause needed for police to conduct similar searches.[59] Probable cause is met when a reasonable officer would believe a crime was, is being, or will be committed. While police outside of schools must have probable cause to conduct a search, school resource officers, who act as police in schools, may not need to meet this higher standard.[60] Regardless, the search itself must be justified when it starts.[61] Refusing to be searched, however, may subject the student to discipline.

Miranda Warnings
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be used against you.
You have a right to an attorney.
If you cannot afford an attorney, you have a right to a court-appointed attorney.

Q: Am I allowed to record the police?
A: The Florida wiretapping statute requires that you have the consent of all parties involved before recording—including police officers.[62] Tell the officer that you are getting your phone out to record the exchange. If the officer forbids you from recording, you should comply.

While the ACLU believes that restricting your ability to record the police is a violation of First Amendment rights, we also want you to be aware that there could be serious legal ramifications if you decide to record the police without their consent.

Q: What should I do if I am stopped by police away from school?
A: Stay calm and be polite. Keep your hands where police can see them. Do not run, resist, or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or police are violating your rights. Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away. If the officer says no, you are under arrest, and have a right to an attorney. Specifically say the words, “I want an attorney,” to invoke this right. Do not just say, “I think I want an attorney.” Be clear. Then invoke your right not to speak before your attorney is present by saying, “I would like to remain silent.”

You should tell the officer your name if asked, but you do not have to talk about anything else. If the officer asks if she can search your pockets, car, house, etc., you can always politely say, “I do not consent to this search.” If the officer asks why you will not agree to a search, you can simply say that you were advised not to. You never know what someone may have inadvertently dropped in your car, your room, or you bag. Police may be able to “stop and frisk” you—pat you down over your clothing for weapons—if they have “reasonable suspicion” based on specific facts.[63] You may be required to take a breathalyzer test if the police suspect you of drunk driving.[64] Refusing to consent may lead to an arrest and suspension of your driver’s license.[65]

If police come to your home, they can enter only if they have a warrant, when they are in “hot pursuit” of a fleeing suspect, or in an emergency (for example, to render emergency assistance to someone or to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence).[66] You can ask to see the warrant and check that it provides the right address. The police can only search in the areas listed and for the items listed. If they search in other areas, you can politely tell them, “I do not consent to this search.” If you are arrested, the police can search you and the area immediately around you for weapons or destructible evidence.[67]

WARNING: Police cars often have video cameras or recording devices. Anything you say in a police car, even if you are talking to yourself, can be used against you.[68] It’s best to remain silent if you are placed under arrest or taken into custody. If you are allowed to make a call or talk to family or friends at the police station, even this could be recorded or listened to and used against you.[69] Never talk about the facts of your case over the telephone. Do not sign anything until you have talked to a lawyer.

Q: Am I eligible for a diversion (alternative-to-arrest) program?
A: Whether you are eligible depends on your past criminal history and the seriousness of offense. Each year tens of thousands of young people are routinely arrested for minor and nonviolent offenses—creating an arrest record that can affect their employment and educational opportunities for the rest of their lives. The ACLU believes that pre-arrest diversion programs like civil citations should be the presumptive norm for law enforcement response to common youth misbehavior. This strategy avoids ruining the lives of young people and, by dramatically decreasing recidivism, also enhances public safety. One such diversion or alternative-to-arrest program is the Civil Citation Program of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DOJJ). This program aims to keep youth out of the juvenile justice system by giving law enforcement agencies a tool to require community service and interventions services (family counseling, urinalysis monitoring, and substance abuse and mental health treatment services) for “nonserious delinquent acts”—up to three misdemeanors—instead of an arrest.[70] If a student successfully completes diversion programs, they can avoid a juvenile record.[71] Failure to complete the program, however, results in a delinquency intake that could lead to prison time.[72] The DOJJ’s Civil Citation Program has providers across Florida and may appear under a number of different names, including Teen Court, DISC Village, SAO Youth Offender Program, Work-In-Lieu-of-Arrest (WILA), Arrest Avoidance Program, and Juvenile Second Chance Program, among others.[73] You are eligible if: (1) you have committed a non-serious misdemeanor offense; (2) you have no prior criminal history; and (3) you haven’t already received three civil citations.[74] Which offenses qualify for the program will vary from county to county.

Are you deaf or hard of hearing?
Visit aclu.org/deafrights for an ASL video on your rights when stopped by police.

It is up to the police or state attorney to agree to divert you.[75] Offenses involving the possession or use of a firearm, exposure of sexual organs or other sexual behavior, or gang activity are usually not appropriate for civil citations, unless it is in the best interest of the youth and the public.[76] With the approval of the victim, family, and state attorney, a student may be eligible for a civil citation for the offenses of battery, assault, non-gun weapon possessions cases, and animal cruelty.[77]

In addition, under the Florida Department of Corrections’ Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), you may be eligible for diversion if you have a committed a misdemeanor or third-degree felony, as long as you have not been convicted of more than one nonviolent misdemeanor.[78]

Civil Citation Programs
You can view the participating counties and providers here.

TIPS: Protect Yourself with Police

  1.  If police try to question you, ask for a lawyer. They must stop questioning you until you have a chance to speak with a lawyer.
  2. If police try to search you, you can politely tell them, “I do not consent to this search.”
  3. If police say they have a search warrant, ask to see it. It must have your name, accurate description, what evidence the police are looking for, and where they think it is.
  4. Remain polite and respectful. Do not physically resist the police, even if the police may be doing something illegal.

[1] https://www.legalbluebook.com/
[2] Fla. Stat. § 1006.09(1)(c).
[3] Fla. Stat. § 1006.09(1)(b).
[4] See Neal ex rel. Neal v. Fulton Cty. Bd. of Educ., 229 F.3d 1069, 1076 (11th Cir. 2000).
[5] See Fla. Stat. § 1003.53(1).
[6] Fla. Stat. § 1006.09(1)(c)
[7] See, e.g., Fla. Stat. § 1006.07(2)(e), (h), (i), (j).
[8] Fla. Stat. § 1006.09(3).
[9] See Fla. Stat. 1006.07(2)(e).
[10] Fla. Stat. § 1006.07(2)(d)(2)(c).
[11] See Fla. Stat. § 1003.32(4), (5).
[12] See Fla. Stat. § 1003.32(5), (6)(a).
[13] See Fla. Stat. § 1006.07(2)(i).
[14] See Fla. Stat. § 1006.09(1)(b).
[15] Fla. Stat. § 1006.09(1)(b).
[16] See Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 230 (1982).
[17] Fla. Stat. § 1006.13(2).
[18] Fla. Stat. § 1006.13(1).
[19] https://www.aclu.org/issues/racial-justice/race-and-inequality-education....
[20] Fla. Stat. § 1006.09(2).
[21] See C.J. v. Sch. Bd. of Broward Cty., 438 So.2d 87, 87 (Fla. 4th DCA 1983).
[22] See D.K. ex rel. Kennedy v. Dist. Sch. Bd. Indian River Cty., 981 So.2d 667, 667-68 & n.1 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008).
[23] See M.T. v. Sch. Bd. of Manatee Cty., 779 So.2d 328, 328 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999).
[24] Fla. Stat. § 1006.09(2).
[25] Fla. Stat. § 1006.09(2).
[26] See L.P.M. v. Sch. Bd. of Seminole Cty., 753 So. 2d 130, 132-33 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000).
[27] See J.S. ex rel. Snyder v. Blue Mountain Sch. Dist., 650 F.3d 915, 920 (3d Cir. 2011).
[28] See Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-1.0956(1)-(2).
[29] See Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-1.0956(3).
[30] See Student Alpha Id. No Guja v. Sch. Bd. of Volusia Cty., 616 So. 2d 1011, 1012 (Fla. 5th DCA 1993).
[31] See Student Alpha Id. No Guja v. Sch. Bd. of Volusia Cty., 616 So. 2d 1011, 1012-13 (Fla. 5th DCA 1993).
[32] See C.J. v. Sch. Bd. of Broward Cty., 438 So.2d 87, 87 (Fla. 4th DCA 1983).
[33] See D.K. ex rel. Kennedy v. Dist. Sch. Bd. Indian River Cty., 981 So.2d 667, 667-68 & n.1 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008).
[34] 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.
[35] E.g., Fla. Stat. § 1003.57; Fla. Stat. § 1003.571.
[36] Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-6.03312.
[37] Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-6.03312(1)(a), (2).
[38] Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-6.03312(1)(a).
[39] Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-6.03312(3); see also Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-6.03312(1)(f).
[40] Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-6.03312(3)(c).
[41] Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-6.03312(3)(d), (5)(b).
[42] Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-6.03312(3)(e), (7).
[43] Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-6.03312(7)(c).
[44] Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-6.03312(7)(d).
[45] Fla. Admin. Code r. 6A-6.03312(6)(a).
[46] See Fla. Stat. § 1002.20(4) (c); Letter of John B. King, Jr., Sec’y of U.S. Dep’t of Educ., at 4 n.6 (Nov. 22, 2016), http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/files/corporal-puni....
[47] http://www.fldoe.org/accountability/data-sys/edu-info-accountability-ser....
[48] See Southern Poverty Law Center, Corporal Punishment in Florida Schools: Trends in Reactive, Punitive, and Ineffective Approaches to Youth Behavior 2 (2014), https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/d6_legacy_files/downloads/....
[49] Fla. Stat. § 1003.32(k).
[50] Fla. Stat. § 1003.32(k)(3).
[51] See Neal ex rel. Neal v. Fulton Cty. Bd. of Educ., 229 F.3d 1069, 1075 (11th Cir. 2000).
[52] T.W. ex rel. Wilson v. Sch. Bd. of Seminole Cty., Fla. 610 F.3d 588, 601 (11th Cir. 2010).
[53] Fla. Stat. § 1006.13(1).
[54] Fla. Stat. § 1006.13(4)(c).
[55] Advancement Project, Dignity in Schools, Alliance for Educational Justice, & LDF, Report: Police in Schools are Not the Answer to the Newtown Shooting 12 (2013), http://www.dignityinschools.org/files/Police_in_Schools_are_Not_the_Answ....
[56] Fla. Dep’t of Juvenile Justice, Delinquency in Florida’s Schools: An Eight-Year Study (FY 2004-05 through FY 2011-12) at 1, http://www.iacpyouth.org/Portals/0/Resources/FloridaDelinquency.pdf; Advancement Project, Dignity in Schools, Alliance for Educational Justice, & LDF, Report: Police in Schools are Not the Answer to the Newtown Shooting at 9 (2013), http://www.dignityinschools.org/files/Police_in_Schools_are_Not_the_Answ....
[57]  See K.P. v. State, 129 So.3d 1121, 1127 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013).
[58] Fla. Stat. § 1006.09(9).
[59] See K.P. v. State, 129 So.3d 1121, 1127 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013).
[60] See State v. D.S., 685 S.2d 41, 43 (Fla. 3d DCA 1996) (“We specifically hold that a search conducted by a school police officer only requires reasonable suspicion in order to legally support the search, as distinguished
[61] See K.P. v. State, 129 So.3d 1121, 1132 (Fla. 3d DCA 2013)
[62] Fla. Stat. § 934.03(2)(d).
[63] See Fla. Stat. § 901.151 (“Stop and Frisk Law”).
[64] Fla. Stat. § 316.1932(1)(a)1.a.
[65] Fla. Stat. § 316.1932(1)(a)1.a.
[66] See Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452, 460 (2011).
[67] See Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 339 (2009).
[68] See DiGuilio v. State, 451 So.2d 487, 490 (Fla. 5th DCA 1984).
[69] See Arizona v. Mauro, 481 U.S. 520, 530-32 (1987) (Stevens, J., dissenting).
[70] Fla. Stat. § 985.12(1).
[71] Civil Citation Process, http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/partners-providers-staff/civil-citation-....
[72] Civil Citation Process, http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/partners-providers-staff/civil-citation-....
[73] Department of Juvenile Justice, Civil Citation Program Information, http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/probation-policy-memos/civil-citation-program-information-for-posting321448660D27.pdf?Status=Master&sfvrsn=2.
[74] Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Civil Citation in Florida: Part of the Community, Part of the Solution, http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/partners-providers-staff/civil-citation-....
[75] Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Civil Citation in Florida: Part of the Community, Part of the Solution, http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/partners-providers-staff/civil-citation-....
[76]  Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Civil Citation in Florida: Part of the Community, Part of the Solution, http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/partners-providers-staff/civil-citation-....
[77]  Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Civil Citation in Florida: Part of the Community, Part of the Solution, http://www.djj.state.fl.us/docs/partners-providers-staff/civil-citation-....
[78] Fla. Stat. § 948.08(2).

 

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