Series 500 – Students

Policy 500: Guiding Principles

The Board of Directors of the Des Moines Independent Community School District is committed to student achievement, and providing a safe learning environment for all students so that they can become prepared for the next stage of their lives. Realizing that schools are diverse communities of students, the Board has established policies relating to the operation of schools to assure that an orderly school organization results, and that the District maintains attendance centers that operate in an effective, efficient and equitable manner for the benefit of our diverse community of students.

Policy 501: Entrance Requirements

Children within the school District’s boundaries will be allowed to enroll in the District’s regular education program beginning at age five. The child must be age five on or prior to September 15 of the current year to participate in the District’s kindergarten program. The child must be age six on or prior to September 15 to begin the first grade of the education program. The District requires evidence of age and residency in the form of a birth certificate or other evidence before the student may enroll in the District’s education program. It is within the discretion of the Superintendent or designee to determine what is satisfactory evidence for proof of age.

Prior to the first day of school, the health and immunization certificates must be provided to administration. Failure to provide this information within the time period set by the Superintendent/designee is reason, according to Iowa law to deny admission to the student.

The Board of Directors shall approve the necessary boundaries and attendance areas for the schools of the District, and assign student to the District’s schools to (a) provide the most effective programs; (b) achieve and maintain the desired minority student enrollment levels; (c) utilize school facilities and resources effectively and efficiently; and (d) avoid overcrowding in school facilities.

The Superintendent shall develop and implement procedures for advanced placements.

Legal Reference: Code of Iowa, sections 139.9, 282.3 (2013)
Adopted: 2014

Policy 502: Student Attendance

The parent, guardian or legal or actual custodian of a child who has reached the age of six or is under sixteen years of age by September 15 of the current school year shall cause the child to attend some public school, an accredited nonpublic school, or competent private instruction in accordance with the provisions of Iowa law.

A child who has reached the age of five by September 15 and who is enrolled in a school district is of compulsory attendance age unless the child’s parent or guardian provides written notice to the school district of the intent to remove the child from enrollment in the district. A child enrolled in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program, which serves 4-year-old children, will be considered of compulsory attendance age and subject to compulsory education laws.

Students who are eligible to attend an Iowa public school but who are not legal residents of this District may be admitted to school, at the discretion of the Superintendent/designee, upon application and payment of tuition. The tuition rate shall be the current per pupil cost of the District as computed by the Board Secretary and as authorized by the Iowa Department of Education.

The Board is committed to student achievement, and requires punctuality and regular attendance. Students are required to conform to District and school rules and procedures regarding attendance. These rules and procedures are consistent among grade levels and buildings throughout the District and should be administered in such a manner as to serve the best interests of the students, and to comply with the Code of Iowa.

Legal Reference: Code of Iowa, Chapter 299 (2013)
Adopted: 2014

Policy 503: Student Transportation

In accordance with Iowa law, all students enrolled in an elementary or middle school

(K-8) must live more than two miles from the designated attendance center to be entitled to transportation. Students enrolled in a senior high school (9-12) must live more than three miles from the school designated for attendance to be entitled to transportation.

The Superintendent may present to the Board for approval, a modification to shorten the state distance requirements for transportation that is to be provided for students.

The Board directs the Superintendent to annually review the mileage requirements and routes to ensure the safety of students.

Legal Reference: Code of Iowa, Chapter 285 (2013)
Code of Iowa section 282.18 (2013)
Adopted: 2014

Policy 504: Student Health, Safety and Welfare

The Board directs the District to make every effort to protect, improve, and maintain the physical, emotional, and social well-being of students. This will include minimizing environmental risks in the school setting, and maintaining standards of emergency care to minimize the effects of accidents and illnesses on school premises. Opportunities should be provided in the curricular and co-curricular program to promote sound health practices, taking into consideration the availability of District resources.
The Board recognizes and supports the need for proper health and safety practices. Appropriate personnel shall adhere to medication practices that meet safety standards and comply with current legal mandates. District procedures and practices shall include maintenance of written medication administration records and medication supplies in the original labeled containers.

The Board also recognizes the District’s responsibilities to maintain appropriate procedures to maintain the welfare of students. The Superintendent shall implement appropriate procedures to address items such as mandatory reporting and non-school personnel interviewing students while at school.

Legal Reference: Code of Iowa, Chapter 280 (2013)
Code of Iowa, Chapter 232 (2013)
Adopted: 2014

Policy 505: Student Behavior Expectations and Discipline

The Board, administration and employees expect students to conduct themselves in a manner fitting to their age level and maturity and with respect and consideration for the rights of others. Students, teachers, employees, and visitors are expected to treat each other with respect and courtesy so that all may be safe within the school environment. Inappropriate student conduct may cause material and substantial disruption to the school environment, interfere with the rights of others, or present a threat to the health and safety of students, employees, and visitors on school premises.

The Superintendent shall implement appropriate procedures for students who violate these expectations through handbooks, procedures and regulations.

Legal Reference: Iowa Code Chapter 280 (2013)
Adopted: 2014

Policy 506: Student Complaints

The Board supports the delivery of the education program and services to students free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, physical attributes, physical or mental ability or disability, ancestry, political party preference, military affiliation, socioeconomic status or familial status. This concept of equal educational opportunity serves as a guide for the Board and employees in making decisions relating to District facilities, employment, selection of educational materials, equipment, curriculum, and regulations affecting students.

The Board requires that the District provide for a student complaint process, which allows students to complete a written and signed statement alleging a violation of Board policy, procedures and regulations, federal and state laws or regulations, or allegations of unlawful discrimination by students or the Districts employees.

Legal Reference: Code of Iowa Chapter 216
Title VI and VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,
 Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments,
 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
 American Disabilities Act of 1990
Adopted: 2014

Policy 507: Bullying, Harassment and Hazing Prohibited

The Board directs the Superintendent to implement appropriate procedures and regulations to maintain an academic environment that is free from harassment, including sexual harassment, and bullying. The District will take action to halt any bullying and harassment and will take appropriate corrective actions, including disciplinary measures, to remedy all violations of this policy. It is a violation of this policy for any student, staff member, volunteer, parent or business associate of the District to harass or bully any student on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, age, marital status, sexual orientation, physical attributes, physical or mental ability or disability, ancestry, political party preference, political belief, military affiliation, socioeconomic status, familial status, or any other trait or characteristic, on or in school property or vehicles, and at any school function or school-sponsored activity, regardless of the activity’s location. Harassment and bullying are prohibited by the State of Iowa and this school policy. Violations of this policy or procedure will be cause for disciplinary action up to and including expulsion. The level of discipline for each incident will be determined after considering the severity of the incident and any prior incidents. The Board is committed to providing all students with a safe and civil school environment in which all members of the school community are treated with dignity and respect.

This policy is in effect while students or employees are on property within the jurisdiction of the District, including District-owned or chartered vehicles, and while away from school grounds if bullying, harassment, hazing, or any other victimization of students directly affects the good order, efficient management, and welfare of the District.

If, after an investigation, any student, staff member, volunteer, parent or business associate of the District found to be in violation of this policy may be disciplined by appropriate measures, which may include expulsion and termination.

Definitions. Harassment and bullying shall be construed to mean any electronic, written, verbal, or physical act or conduct toward a student which is based on any actual or perceived trait or characteristic of the student and which creates an objectively hostile school environment that meets one or more of the following conditions:

  1. Places the student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or property.
  2. Has a substantially detrimental effect on the student’s physical or mental health.
  3. Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s academic performance.
  4. Has the effect of substantially interfering with the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.

Electronic means any communication involving the transmission of information by wire, radio, optical cable, electromagnetic, or other similar means. Electronic includes but is not limited to communication via electronic mail, internet-based communications, pager service, cell phones, and electronic text messaging.

A person commits an act of hazing when the person intentionally or recklessly engages in any act or acts involving forced activity which endanger the physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or admission into, or affiliation with, any organization operating in connection with a school.

Reporting. All Des Moines Public Schools stakeholders have the ability and responsibility to report any act in violation of Policy 507 to school staff and/or district staff. This report can be written, made verbally or electronically and should be given to school administration or designee. An electronic complaint form is available via the Des Moines Public School website. The report will be logged in the reporting student’s communication log. Upon receiving the report, communication must be immediately made to the building-level bullying and harassment investigator.

Investigation. Once a report is received by the District (building-level bullying and harassment investigator), an investigation will begin immediately. Investigators will consider the totality of circumstances presented in determining whether conduct objectively constitutes harassment or bullying. If the reporting student’s perception of the acts matches Iowa Code 280.28, an investigation is required and must be completed as promptly as possible by the building-level investigator. All investigations must begin and finish at the building level. Building-level investigators may consult with District Administration for guidance and compliance. Investigators will ensure safety and confidentiality during the investigation. In addition, investigators will collect formal statements from the complainant, accused and can collect formal statements from witnesses, students, staff and adults. Complainants and accused students and guardians will receive a written summary notifying them of the findings of the investigation and next steps outlined by the school.

No Retaliation or False Accusation.  No person shall retaliate against a student or other person because the student or other person has filed a discrimination or harassment complaint, assisted or participated in an investigation, or has opposed language or conduct that violates this policy, as long as the participation or action was done in good faith.  Persons who engage in retaliation or who knowingly file false complaints or give false statements in an investigation shall be subject to discipline up to and including suspension and/or expulsion.

Notification.  Notice of this policy shall be communicated to staff, students, and parents of the District and to the District community.  It shall be included in handbooks including those for students, staff, and volunteers; posted on the District’s website; and published in any such manner as deemed appropriate.

Training.  The District shall educate staff, parents, and students about harassment and bullying, effective methods of prevention, and what to do in the event of such actions. Each building will appoint, at a minimum, one staff member to be the building-level bullying and harassment investigator. The District shall participate in assessments of the effectiveness of this policy and education programs and shall make reports as required.

Other Agencies.  Students, parents, and employees may also contact the Iowa Civil Rights Commission; the Des Moines Human Rights Commission; the Region VII Office for Civil Rights within the United States Department of Education in Chicago, Illinois; or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Chicago, Illinois for assistance.

Legal Reference: Code of Iowa, section 280.28
Code of Iowa, sections 216.9; 280.3 (2013)
281 Iowa Administrative Code 12.3(6)
Adopted: 2007; Revised 2014; Revised 2017

Policy 508: Weapons

Firearms, other weapons, other dangerous objects, and look-a-likes are prohibited on District property and at school-sponsored activities. The Board of Education believes firearms and other weapons on District property or at school sponsored activities cause material and substantial disruption to the school environment, and present a threat to the health and safety of students, employees and visitors.

Any object which could be used to injure or threaten another person and which has no school-related purpose may be considered a weapon. This includes specifically, but is not limited to, firearms of all types, knives of all types, fireworks, metal pipes, metal knuckles, and explosives. The term “firearm” includes, but is not limited to, any weapon which is designed to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive, the frame or receiver of any such weapon, a muffler or silencer for such a weapon, or any explosive, incendiary or poison gas. An object that serves as a facsimile of a weapon may be considered a weapon in the enforcement of this policy. An object that has a school-related purpose but is used to threaten or inflict injury may also be considered a weapon.

Weapons shall be confiscated from persons who bring them onto District property or to school sponsored activities.

The parents/guardians of a student shall be notified if a student is found in possession of a weapon, or is responsible for bringing a weapon, onto District property or to school sponsored activities. Possession or confiscation of weapons or dangerous objects will be reported to law enforcement officials. The student will be subject to disciplinary action which could include expulsion.

Weapons under the control of law enforcement officials shall be exempt from this policy. The principal may allow authorized persons to display weapons, or unloaded firearms, or other dangerous objects for educational purposes.

Legal Reference: Iowa Code Chapter 724 (2013)
Adopted: 2014

Policy 509: Student Activities

The Board encourages all types of student-produced official school publications, school organizations and other school-sponsored activities that enhance the educational experience for students.

The Superintendent or designee will review and approve student activities as provided for at each attendance center.

Adopted: 2014

Policy 510: Student Records

In compliance with state and federal law, attendance and other official student records will be kept at the school level for each student. Educational records shall remain confidential as required by federal and state law.

The Superintendent or designee shall serve as the records custodian for the District and ensure that all official student records are maintained in secure environments. Written consent for disclosure of educational records, including both permanent and cumulative information, shall be signed and dated by the parent or student eighteen years of age or older. Permission for release may not be general in nature but shall include a specification of the records to be disclosed, the reasons for such disclosure and names of the party or class of parties to whom such records may be disclosed.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords parents and students who are 18 years of age or older certain rights with respect to the student’s education records. These rights are (i) the right to inspect and review the student’s education records; (ii) the right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the parent or eligible student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy rights; (iii) the right to provide written consent before the school district discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent; and (iv) the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the school district to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

There are several exceptions in FERPA which permits disclosure without consent.  These exceptions include, but are not limited to:

  • Disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official includes a person employed by the school district or a person serving on the school board, or a volunteer, contractor, or consultant who performs an institutional service or function for the school district. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
  • Disclosure of directory information, provided that the school district has given public notice to parents and eligible students of the types of personally identifiable information that is designated as directory information, the parent’s or eligible student’s right to refuse the designation of any or all of those types of information about the student as directory information, and the period of time within which a parent or eligible student has to notify the school district that he or she does not want any or all of those types of information about the student designated as directory information.
  • Disclosure consistent with an interagency agreement between the school district and juvenile justice agencies.
  • Disclosure to officials of another school district in which the student wishes to enroll, provided the other school district notifies the parents the student records are being sent and the parents have an opportunity to receive a copy of the records and challenge the contents of the records unless the annual notification includes a provision that records will automatically be transferred to new school districts;
  • Disclosure to the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education or state and local educational authorities;
  • Disclosure in connection with financial aid for which the student has applied or which the student has received if the information is necessary to receive the financial aid;
  • Disclosure to organizations conducting educational studies and the study does not release personally identifiable information;
  • Disclosure to accrediting organizations;
  • Disclosure to parents of a dependent student as defined in the Internal Revenue Code;
  • Disclosure to comply with a court order or judicially issued subpoena; or
  • Disclosure in connection with a health or safety emergency.

Legal Reference: Code of Iowa, chapter 22; FERPA: 20 USC 1232g

Revised: November 2015; June 2016

Policy 511: Rights of Custodial and Non-Custodial Parents

The Board recognizes the value of providing information to custodial and non-custodial parents regarding the progress of their child in academic and non-academic areas.

For purposes of this policy, the term “parent” means a parent of student and includes a natural parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian. “Parent” includes custodial and non-custodial parents. The District will presume that the person who enrolls the student in school is the student’s parent, or person acting as a parent for purposes of the student’s education. The term “custodial parent” is defined as the person or persons with primary responsibility for the day-to-day care and control of a student. The term “non-custodial parent” is a person who is a natural parent, an adoptive parent, or guardian who does not presently have primary responsibility for the day-to-day care and control of the student.

It is not the school District’s responsibility to resolve disagreements between custodial and non-custodial parents. The District will obey all court orders relating to custody issues and parental rights. Therefore, the rights afforded parents under this policy may be limited in any individual situation. It shall be the responsibility of a parent requesting any action by the school District relative to the rights of custodial and non-custodial parents to provide the school District with a copy of a court order, decree or other documentation supporting the action requested.

Adopted: 2014

Policy 512: Student Expression and Student Publications

Student Expression

It is the goal of the district to protect the educational environment for all students to help ensure it is free from substantial disruption or infringement upon their rights. Student expression should be appropriate to help ensure that the students learn and meet the goals of the school activity and that the potential audience is not exposed to material that may be harmful or inappropriate for their level of maturity.

While students will generally be allowed to express their viewpoints and opinions, in certain qualifying circumstances, student speech may require administrative regulation to help ensure the safety and welfare of the school community. The district may regulate speech that: causes or is reasonably anticipated to cause a material and substantial disruption to the education environment; infringes upon the rights of others; is obscene or lewd; is school sponsored; and/or promotes illegal activity. The administration, when making this judgment, will consider whether the activity in which the expression was made is school-sponsored and whether review or prohibition of the students’ speech furthers an educational purpose. The expression must be done in a reasonable time, place, and manner that is not disruptive to the orderly and efficient operation of the school district.

The superintendent may develop procedures for safely addressing qualifying types of mass protests by students, including walk-ins and walk-outs. Walk-ins occur when students leave their learning environments during school hours and gather in a group or groups with the purpose of promoting a belief or beliefs. Walk-outs occur when students leave their learning environments during school hours and gather in a group or groups off district property with the purpose of promoting a belief or beliefs.

The superintendent is encouraged to obtain feedback from community stakeholders in the development of these procedures. The goal of the procedures shall be to address student safety, maintain the education environment and promote communication during demonstrations while remaining viewpoint neutral.

Students who violate this policy may be subject to disciplinary measures. Employees are responsible for helping to ensure students’ expression is in keeping with this policy. It is the responsibility of the superintendent to develop administrative regulations regarding this policy.

Student Publications

Students may produce official school publications as part of the curriculum under the supervision of a faculty advisor and the principal. Official school publications include material produced in journalism, newspaper, yearbook, or writing classes and distributed to the student body either free or for a fee.
Any expression made by students, including student expression in official school publications, is not an expression of official school policy. The school district, the board, and the employees or officials are not liable in any civil or criminal action for any student expression made or published by students unless the employees or officials have interfered with or altered the content of the student speech or expression. The liability, if any, is only to the extent of the interference or alteration of the speech or expression.

Official school publications are free from prior restraint by employees or officials except as provided by law. A faculty advisor will supervise student writers to maintain professional standards of English and journalism and to comply with the law including, but not limited to, the restrictions against unlawful speech. The production of official school publications is guided by the law and by the ethical standards adopted by professional associations or societies of journalism.

Persons, other than students, who believe they have been aggrieved by student expression in a student-produced official school publication will follow the grievance procedure outlined in board policy 244. Students who believe their freedom of expression in a student-produced official school publication has been restricted will follow the grievance procedure outlined in board policy 506.

The superintendent is responsible for developing a student publications code. This code will include, but not be limited to, reasonable rules including time, place, and manner of restrictions. The superintendent will also be responsible for distributing this policy and the student publications code to the students and their parents.

Legal Reference: U.S. Const. amend. I.
Iowa Const. art. I (sec. 7)
Morse v. Frederick, 551 U.S. 393 (2007)
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988).
Bethel School District v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675 (1986).
New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985).
Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. Comm. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969).
Bystrom v. Fridley High School, 822 F.2d 747 (8th Cir. 1987).
Iowa Code §§ 279.8, .73; 280.22