Could you (or did you) obtain a copy of the School Rules of the schools you attended?

The question can be interpreted broadly - elementary school, high school, college, public, private, whatever.

Did your school have formal definitions for the little rules of Conduct that the teachers cared about so much?

When I was in high school, I thought about walking into the library and asking to see a copy of The School Rules, but never did.

To what extent do schools have these things FORMALLY documented, such as in the form of a statute book? I’m imagining that some schools (or school systems) just have a policy that “Students may not be disruptive. Any student being disruptive may be punished as the Principal directs.” and leave the interpretation of that to the teachers and administration, but are there many schools that have a COMPREHENSIVE set of defined Conduct Offenses at a fine level, letting kids (or their parents) play amateur lawyer at disciplinary hearings?


Principal: “Mrs. Crabtree says that you made a disparaging comment about her mother. You are accused of violating Section 55.1.A of the West River District School Rules, Edition 10”
Kid: “That statute says ‘No student shall make a disparaging comment about any other person. No student will be found in violation of this section if the comment in question was relevant to the educational process.’ What I actually said was that Mrs. Crabtree’s childhood experiences resulted in bias against the Stay at Home Mother lifestyle, and I was pointing that out to the class so that the other students would be aware that her diatribes against Patriarchy and the Nuclear Family were not trustworthy. Therefore, my comment had educational merit and I did not violate the section.”
Principal: “If this was 1950 I would just up and whack you with this paddle. That would teach you to respect authority.”

Here’s the CPS (Chicago Public Schools) Student Code of Conduct. (The actual document begins on page 3.) I hope you find it as enthralling as I did. Which means, despite having two kids in the system, I haven’t actually read the whole thing.

It breaks infractions into several groups, for which disciplinary action may vary by group. I’m sure you’ll be as reassured as I was that Murder will get a student a 10 day suspension, followed by expulsion for a year, unless they think you don’t deserve it 'cause you haven’t murdered anyone else this school year. (Page 16)
My school had a similar handbook, but it was much shorter and less comprehensive.

There is the mile-wide exception. It isn’t a comprehensive rulebook, so the fact that an act is not in the book doesn’t mean that the kid can get away with doing it in school.

Our school rules were in the handbook we got each year (& had to tear out a page with our signatures and our parents’ signatures aknowledging we’d signed).

I hated gym. I was overweight, uncoordinated, and had zero knowledge off or intered in sports of any kind. I didn’t like any of the boys’ gym teachers either. One day we doing the Presidential Fitness tests. As usually I sucked at everything. Especially the pull-ups. My teacher’s (who was also the head of the PE dept & taught one class a day) “motivation” consisted of telling me how to “be a man”, how even the girls can do better, and how I wasn’t even meeting the girls’ standards. I finally managed to do one. Afterwards as I was turning to walk away from that station he said “Good job” and gave me a pat on the ass.

I turned around and screamed “Keep your fucking hands off me you fucking pervert!!!” at the top of my lungs. Everyone stopped, the girls’ teacher came running over, a passing teacher came in from the hall. Naturally he was very angry and sent me straight to the office. Our vice-principal started telling How dare I say that, that I had no right to talk to a teacher that way, etc. I kept interupting him and made him get out the handbook open it to the district’s sexual harrasment policy. Especially the part about any unwanted touching by anyone, including a staff member, to any part of a student’s body. I kept saying sexual harrasment over and over again and he went from angry to apologetic and kinda panicy.

He kept trying to explain to me th**at “it wasn’t meant that way”, that the coaches do it all the time etc (all of which I knew). I pointed out that I wasn’t one of his players, and kept going on about how he touched my ass without asking me. I also pointed out that we wouldn’t even be having this discussion if I were a girl or my math teacher did that. Finally he agreeded to switch my gym class and study hall round so I wasn’t in that class anymore, then he escorted me back to the lockerroom to change & get my books. Also to “have a talk” with the gym teacher. That teacher never said a single word to me again, just shot the odd hatefull glare at me in the halls (the grins :smiley: I shot at him a couple times didn’t help).

Not one other teacher ever said a word about it, but a bunch of other students thought it was awesome; including several of his football players who thought it was the funniest thing ever (since I got off scott free & he ended up in trouble).

The school rules were printed in the diary/handbook that was issued to all students. After ten years at the school I could recite them all off by heart. Even now, thirty years later, I still remember many of them.

No eating in public in school uniform? Always wear (and button up) your blazer if you are outside the school grounds? Give up your seat on the bus if adults were standing? We got reminded of these and more every week at school assembly, and I’m pretty sure we had hard copies as well. 20 years and counting for me!

I don’t remember if we had a handbook in elementary school, but I went to a Catholic school in the 60s, and we all knew the nuns had the final word on everything and our parents would back them up, so I’m guessing a book wouldn’t have mattered.

Fast forward 30+ years - my daughter’s schools always had a Code of Conduct handbook and I probably had to sign that I was aware it existed.

Forward to today - my daughter is now a 5th grade teacher. She and the other teachers on her team have established the 5th grade code of conduct and they make it clear to their kids from the first day. Very few of their kids wind up at the office - they take care of things in the classroom before they escalate. No wonder the principal loved her 5th grade team…

I’m not sure I understand the OP’s question here. Every school I ever attended, from elementary school through college, had a handbook containing the rules of the school. These were distributed to students, you didn’t have to ask for them. It wouldn’t make any sense for the school to not distribute them – how are students supposed to obey the rules if they don’t even know what they are?

Grew up in suburban Philly. In HS we were given a Code of Conduct. Not an overly long document.

Kids grew up in Orange County, NY. The school system there handed out to every student and every parent the district-wide Code of Conduct. It was many pages, bound, and addressed just about every damned thing you can imagine.

Except how the district handles things when a kid is bullied until he cannot take it any more and blows his brains out. On that topic, they are oddly mute.


I went to Catholic School from 1958 to 1971. The rules were not codified or written down and seemed subject to change depending on the mood of the nuns or who committed the offense. In High School, smoking was a five dollar fine, and not properly wearing the uniform was a quarter fine, but this was not written down anywhere.

The enforcement of the rules that were not codified was rather uneven. Considering that I was an attitude and discipline problem, I often got the more stringent interpretation of these rules on any offense I might commit.

Our school “handbook” was a ditto with a map and a place to write your locker number, the lunch schedule and a couple other useful facts, including the location of the student smoking lounge. Yes, really.

I have absolutely no recollection of how the rules were communicated. There weren’t that many of them. No running in the halls. Noone was allowed to be in the halls at all except between the bells without a pass. I don’t think anyone ever said to us explicitly that we weren’t allowed to beat eachother up, but it was understood.

My son starts high school in two weeks and we were just mailed a rather lengthy and comprehensive handbook similar to the one WhyNot linked. The dress code is two full pages. Come to think of it we must have been given a written copy of a dress code because I remember my mother going over it with us and telling us how easy we had it, and what it had been for her class (We went to the same high school as our parents). But it was low key. Skirts had to be to the knee. No shirts with vulgarity (as determined by out vice-pricipal “The Silver Bullet”). No shorts. Appropriate footwear. No street shoes in the gym.

A lot of this new handbook addresses things that were not even in existence for us; use of the internet, and personal electronics. We didn’t need as much information on weapons either.

Having worked with kids, I can tell you that if you’re looking for a handbook which covers every possible infraction with a detailed disciplinary action, you’re probably not going to find it. Educators know that kids will get very creative in their misbehavior, and they couldn’t possibly list every possible way a student could be “disruptive”. Hence the, as you point out, rather large disclaimer. These are lists of examples and types of infractions, comprehensive (dictionary definition #2: “Of large content or scope; wide-ranging.”) but not all-inclusive.

The boys in my mom’s sixth grade class last year “invented” a new playground game she hadn’t seen in 30 years of teaching: punching each other in the cock. For fun. Just because “don’t punch your classmates in the cock” wasn’t in the handbook doesn’t mean the kids escaped correction for their disruptive behavior.

There *is *room for lawyering and appeals, as mentioned in the CPS handbook: “All students shall be entitled to receive due process in disciplinary reassignment, in-school or out-of-school suspension and expulsion. Moreover, students shall be entitled to appeal the issuance of certain intervention or consequences, as provided herein…”

I know my high school had the rules documented and were distributed at the very least to every incoming freshman. I remember thinking how some of them had not been updated in some time (there was one about concealing weapons or other contraband in an afro … I entered high school in 1982 :slight_smile: ).

I don’t remember as clearly for middle school, but I think we did, there, too.

I don’t remember anything like that for elementary school.

Why would they need to print them out or show you? They all had the “it’s against the rules to do anything we forgot to include in here but pisses us off anyways so we reserve the right to do whatever we want” clause.

It is the school equivalent of “disorderly conduct” in real life or the “don’t be a jerk” rule on the SDMB.

I went to high school in South Dakota in the 1970s. One day I was helping my brother unload junk at the dump, where I came across a copy of the TEACHER’S handbook (local public school). In it were things such as

  • appropriate hair length for male students: above the color and above the ears
  • beards and facial hair prohibited
  • don’t get caught smoking or drinking in public
  • participation in social or religious settings is expected
  • go to all possible school events
  • no political posturing
  • and more

It was good reading for a high school freshman!

my high school used to issue a thing called a homework note book which was kind of a diary that you carried everywhere. Originally, it had the school rules printed on the cover. They stopped doing that when students started to cross each one off one by one as they broke them.

Both of the high schools I attended gave us little handbooks with the school’s rules in them. Some of the rules could be comedy gold, because you’d look at a particular rule, and wonder what could have happened to cause such a… specific rule to come into existence, such as the one that said that athletes competing in track and field events were required to wear a leotard under their shorts and shirts (the theory amongst us on the cross-country team was that someone mooned or flashed the crowd at an event in the past).

Not nearly as amusing though as the rule we had for our dormitory resident handbook at Texas A&M, which specifically prohibited “trebuchets, catapults, or other siege machinery in the dormitory areas”:smiley:

Yip, we had a handbook that also served as a rule book, and when school didn’t start on a Monday, that would mean the teachers would read it to us in our first few days of classes.

The one thing I remember that stood out was some court decision that said they were not allowed to discriminate by hair length or facial hair. I asked my dad about it, and he said that, when he was growing up, you could not graduate with facial hair or long hair. But he also pointed out that he had both–but his dad was a teacher.

Despite this, up until years after I graduated, the junior high school had a rule about no unnatural hair colors. In the eight years since, it no longer seems to be being enforced, if it exists at all, as I see kids with permanent hair color in my youth group all the time.