Dear RPS Families,
I am looking forward to an exciting school year as your Superintendent. As we begin the new school year at Rochester Public Schools, we have an amazing opportunity to build on the strengths the past few years have brought out in all of us and to address the longstanding problems that have been
exposed. I look forward to kicking off this next year with our new Strategic Action Plan. As we launch the 26 strategic initiatives, we keep purpose at the forefront of our minds, purpose for students and purpose for educators.
Purpose means something different to every person who is a part of the Rochester Public Schools community. For some people, purpose focuses on a career while, for others, it focuses on a cause, and for still others it focuses on a community. But wherever people focus their purpose, having a purpose enables people to be proactive rather than reactive. Purpose also empowers people to prioritize what is really important and to avoid being drawn into debates and distractions that take them temporarily or deeply off track.
One of our purposes at RPS is for students to feel safe at school. This Student Handbook is designed to assist with inspiring, challenging, and empowering all students. It is closely aligned with RPS’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Model (PBIS). The teachers and the principal at your child’s school will explain the rules for the classroom, playground, lunchroom, and other building spaces. School staff will help by teaching the rules more than once when needed. They will call you if they need you to help your child understand the rules. The handbook explains the rules and what may happen if the rules are not followed. While rules and expectations are not always popular, they help us put into words the types of behaviors that support a positive and inclusive learning climate and those that don't. With learning as our top priority, it's important that our school community agree to follow a set of behaviors most likely to help all members succeed.
Please take some time to read this important document and discuss it with your children. Together we can help our students stay in class and in school so they can take advantage of the many learning opportunities available to them every day. At the bottom of this web page you will find a form to complete, indicating you have read this Handbook. Please complete the form and return it to your school principal or follow the instructions to acknowledge you’ve read the handbook online through Skyward’s student information verification. If you have questions or concerns about this Handbook or the supports we offer, please contact your student’s Principal or our Office of School Support at (507) 328-4300.
- RPS Graduate Profile
- Equity Statements
- Concerns and Contact Information
- General Principles and Introduction to PBIS
- Addressing School Safety at our Secondary Schools
- Code of Student Conduct
- Responses to Violations of the Code of Student Conduct
- Rules, Rights, and Regulations
- District Policy 506, 522, 524
- Student Health
- FERPA and Student Privacy
- MN Statewide Testing
- Student Technology Agreement
RPS Graduate Profile
Our mission is to inspire, challenge, and empower all students with the knowledge and skills required to reach their full potential, to contribute to future generations, and to become involved members of a global community.
View the full graduate profile or download the printable PDF by clicking the document to the left.
We acknowledge that Rochester Public Schools (RPS) sites are situated on ancestral lands of the Dakota people. We acknowledge and honor the Dakota Nations and the sacred land of all Indigenous peoples.
We believe equity is a lens through which all decisions should be made.
We believe in the use of people first and asset-based language. Our emphasis lies on the person, whereas their social identities are secondary. We promote language that raises the visibility of personal stories, creates empathy, and recognizes the diverse assets that difference brings.
We believe the practices used in recruiting, interviewing, hiring, supporting, and promoting staff must include and honor, at every level, those who represent the diverse identities of our schools and community.
We believe it is the collective responsibility of all RPS staff to be actively and intentionally anti-racist, both individually and collectively, and work to undo historical and current racist policies or actions both inside and outside the classroom. This responsibility involves critical self-awareness and self-reflection; recognizing and addressing bias; dismantling racist cultures, practices, and procedures; and increasing one’s cultural responsiveness and cultural awareness.
We believe that all staff and students deserve a space to be their authentic selves. We have a collective responsibility to ensure our schools provide a caring, supportive, and anti-oppressive environment. School communities should support the healthy, positive development of students and help them grow their unique gifts and talents.
We believe that one’s gender and sexuality are important parts of one’s identity which deserve to be genuinely accepted and valued. We believe that every student and staff member has the right to grow in a safe space and to be addressed by their preferred name and by pronouns which correspond to their gender identity.
We believe that communities, parents/caregivers, teachers, and community-based organizations have unique and important solutions to improving outcomes for our students and educational systems. True partnership with families and the community includes engaging them with respect, listening authentically, and having the courage to share decision-making, control and resources.
We believe that speaking a language other than English is an asset. Our educational system must celebrate and enhance this ability while providing appropriate and culturally responsive support for emerging bilingual and multilingual students and families. Students’ English development is stronger when home language maintenance is encouraged and facilitated. Community partnerships are essential in providing multicultural and multilingual language supports for students and families.
We believe students receiving special education and gifted services are an integral part of our educational responsibility, and we must welcome the opportunity to be inclusive, make appropriate accommodations and celebrate their assets.
We believe we must remove barriers that prevent students from one or more historically marginalized groups from attaining high levels of academic achievement and growth. Barriers include inequitable access to gifted services and other academic programming as well as over-representation in special education and other intervention programs.
APPROVED ON SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Concerns and Contact Information
I have a concern, how do I address it?
District Level Contact Information
If you have questions regarding discipline, please contact the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Email | (507) 328-4300
Email | (507) 328-4300
Email | (507) 328-4300
Both can also be reached by mail using the following address:
Rochester Public Schools - Edison Administration Building, 615 7th Street SW, Rochester, MN 55902
|If you have a classroom Concern...||Start by contacting the Teacher.|
|Was the concern resolved? If not, proceed with below:|
|If you have a school or program concern...||Call the Principal's office or Program Manager.|
|Was the concern resolved? If not, proceed with below:|
|If you have district concern...||Contact the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.|
|Was the concern resolved? If not, proceed with below:|
|If you cannot determine who to call...||Contact the Office of the Superintendent.|
|Was the concern resolved? If not, proceed with below:|
|If you have concerns or interest in Policy development or Long range planning...||Contact the School Board.|
General Principles and Introduction to PBIS
RPS’s mission is to inspire, challenge, and empower all students with the knowledge and skills required to reach their full potential, to contribute to future generations, and to become involved members of a global community. In pursuit of this mission, RPS has high expectations for student behavior and requires that all students demonstrate responsibility and appropriate behavior in the classroom, on school grounds, and at school-sponsored events and activities. RPS is committed to providing a safe, supportive, and orderly educational environment for all students.
RPS’s approach to student discipline is designed to utilize evidence-based research in an effort to avoid situations in which students are unnecessarily removed from the classroom environment. To that end, RPS employs Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, commonly called PBIS. PBIS is a framework that assists schools in identifying and implementing research-based behavioral interventions in an effort to improve social and academic outcomes for all students. PBIS is based on the idea that students learn appropriate behavior through instruction, practice, feedback, and encouragement. Key features of PBIS include: outlining a clear set of defined positive expectations and behaviors, the teaching of expected behaviors, recognition of meeting expected behaviors, monitoring and correcting errors in behaviors, and using data-based information for decision-making, monitoring, and evaluating results at individual school sites.
Another aspect of PBIS involves the identification of three to five guiding behavioral expectations for students that are positively stated and easy to remember. RPS places a district-wide emphasis on the following three guiding expectations: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe. Behavioral expectations are taught to students using examples of specific positive behaviors that fall within these three expectations. Each school site has a PBIS team, which is responsible for creating specific school-wide examples of appropriate behavior based on these guiding principles. These examples are incorporated into a behavior matrix that is used at each school site.
Addressing School Safety at our Secondary Schools
In Rochester Public Schools, a small group of students are regularly resisting adult authority in our middle schools and high schools. This resistance has ranged from refusal to go to class to verbal abuse of staff. We are adjusting to a multi-faceted strategy that seeks to address the challenges of the moment while also putting us on a course to find and implement systemic solutions to this extremely complex situation. This strategy has been developed in collaboration with our secondary school principals and school district staff.
Click the image to the left to review the safety strategy for our secondary schools. This document can also be viewed on the District BoardDocs website.
Code of Student Conduct
Maintaining a safe, productive environment in school and in the classroom is a priority at RPS. RPS is also committed to administering student discipline in a manner that ensures the fair and equitable treatment of all students when a staff member makes a disciplinary referral or imposes disciplinary sanctions.
The RPS School Board has adopted Policy 506, which outlines the School Board’s expectations for student behavior and a Code of Student Conduct outlining examples of unacceptable student behavior. This Handbook incorporates the expectations outlined in Policy 506 and provides information regarding how RPS Administration enforces the provisions of Policy 506.
Students must follow the provisions of Policy 506 and this Handbook before, during, and after school. The expectations outlined in Policy 506 and this Handbook apply inside school buildings, on school grounds, and at school-related activities and events. Students must also follow these expectations on school buses or vans and at bus stops. An off-campus violation of these expectations may result in disciplinary action taken by RPS if the violation has a direct and immediate effect on school discipline or the general safety and welfare of students or if the violation is a continuation of or has a nexus with misconduct that occurred on school grounds or at a school event.
Students and families should also note that the Minnesota State High School League (“MSHSL”) has behavioral expectations that apply to students who participate in MSHSL-sanctioned activities. The MSHSL’s Official Handbook is available online at www.mshsl.org.
Responses to Violations of the Code of Student Conduct
RPS’s approach to student discipline aims to help students learn good behavior and to limit situations in which students are removed from their classroom or from school. To that end, RPS staff address student behavior issues using a two-level approach. Level I issues involve minor infractions that are addressed in the classroom by a teacher, paraprofessional, or other personnel. Level II issues involve more serious infractions that require an office referral and are addressed by a school administrator or district-level administrator. Specific definitions for Level I and Level II offenses are included in the Appendix to this Handbook.
- Level I Offenses
- Level II Offenses
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Discipline Guidelines for Special Education
Level I Offenses
The grid below identifies specific Level I offenses and the manner in which personnel are expected to respond to Level I offenses.
|RPS Expectation||Violation of Expectation||Response to Violation|
For Level I violations, school personnel are expected to respond to the behavior by:
Additional tools that may be used in the classroom to address Level I behaviors include the following:
Since Level I offenses are intended to be addressed in the classroom, RPS expects that classroom teachers will attempt to reteach expectations and conduct an individual student conference for any Level I offense. School personnel may also employ the other strategies outlined in the chart above as appropriate under the circumstances of a specific situation. While responses to Level I infractions will be designed to address student behavior without removing the student from class wherever possible, there are circumstances in which a Level I offense may result in an office referral. School personnel may make an office referral for Level I behavior under the following circumstances:
- Repeated Level I Offenses - School personnel may make an office referral for a Level I offense if a student has engaged in the same Level I behavior on multiple occasions, the student’s parent or guardian has been involved in efforts to address the student’s behavior, and school personnel have exhausted appropriate options for classroom interventions. Prior to making a referral for repeated Level I behavior, school personnel will do the following: (1) attempt to reteach positive behavior expectations, (2) conduct an individual conference with the student, and (3) communicate with student’s parent or guardian regarding the student’s behavior.
- Level I Offenses that Involve Level II Behaviors - If a Level I offense includes behavior that falls within a defined Level II offense, the offense will be treated as a Level II offense. For example, misuse of technology is generally considered a Level I offense. However, if a student’s misuse of technology includes behavior that would constitute cyberbullying, harassment, or another Level II offense, the violation will be treated as a Level II offense.
- Special Circumstances - RPS does not expect school personnel to allow a student to remain in the classroom if the student’s presence would result in a risk of harm to persons or property or significantly disrupt the educational environment in the classroom. For example, if a student engages in the Level I offense of play fighting and continues to engage in the behavior despite efforts to employ interventions, personnel may make an office referral in order to prevent the student from disrupting other students’ rights to receive an education. In addition, a Level I offense will be treated as a Level II offense if a student’s behavior results in bodily injury to the student or another individual. If school personnel make an office referral based on special circumstances, RPS administration expects that the individual who made the referral will be able to explain, upon an administration’s request, (1) what classroom interventions were implemented before the office referral was made; (2) why it was determined that additional classroom interventions would not be successful; and (3) the specific basis for why school personnel believed an office referral was necessary.
Level I Behaviors Defined
- Cheating and Plagiarism
- Dress Code Violation
- Failure to Follow Instructions
- Horseplay and Play Fighting
- Inappropriate Language
- Inappropriate Physical Contact with Another Person
- Leaving Class Without Permission
- Misuse of Property
- Teasing and Name-Calling
Cheating and Plagiarism
Students are expected to do their own work and to provide proper citations and attributions when their work references materials created by others. Cheating occurs when a student represents another individual’s work as the student’s own, obtains data or answers through acts of deception or dishonesty, or uses tools or resources that are not authorized by a teacher when completing an assignment. Plagiarism involves copying the work of others or copying portions of books, magazines, research materials, or Internet sources without using proper citations or attributions. Cheating and plagiarism will be treated as a Level II offense if a student’s conduct involves distributing academic materials or other information to other students, either hand-to-hand or through the use of technology, to facilitate cheating or plagiarism.
Dress Code Violation
Failure to Follow Instructions
Students are expected to follow the instruction of all RPS personnel, regardless of whether employed by RPS directly or through a contractor, and volunteers. A student’s failure to follow instructions will generally be considered a Level I offense, unless the student’s conduct includes behavior that is identified as a Level II offense.
Horseplay and Play Fighting
Horseplay and play fighting involves no intent to harm. Behaviors include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) pretending to hit, punch, kick, or otherwise make physical contact with another individual; (2) pranks; (3) rough or boisterous play involving physical contact; and (4) running in the building.
Students are expected to use language that is appropriate in an educational setting. The use of inappropriate language will be considered a Level I offense when it is not directed at a specific person and involves profanity, general sexual connotations or innuendo, put-downs to a particular group of people, or is otherwise not appropriate for a school setting. Isolated references to alcohol, drug and tobacco use, or other illegal behavior will be considered inappropriate language, unless the references are made for an educational purpose in connection with an assignment from a classroom teacher.
Inappropriate Physical Contact with Another Person
Students are expected to keep their hands to themselves. Intentionally touching or making physical contact with another individual, without that individual’s permission, will generally be considered a Level I offense, unless the student’s conduct includes behavior that is identified as a Level II offense.
Leaving Class Without Permission
Misuse of Property
Students are expected to be respectful of all property. Misuse of property occurs when a student uses property without permission or uses property in a way that is inconsistent with the intended use of the property. Misuse of Technology Students are expected to utilize technology in a manner that is consistent with the educational mission of RPS. School Board Policy 524 outlines RPS’s expectations for student use of technology. Policy 524 is referenced on page 34. All students are expected to act in accordance with this Policy. Misuse of technology will be considered a Level I violation in situations where a student’s violation of the requirements of School Board Policy 524 does not result in harm or potential harm to the student, another individual, or another individual’s property. Students should be aware that misconduct involving the misuse of technology may also meet the definitions of other offenses outlined in this Handbook. For example, technology could be inappropriately used to engage in cheating or plagiarism. It could also be inappropriately used to engage in behavior that would be considered harassment or discrimination.
Teasing and Name-Calling
Students are expected to be respectful of their peers and to refrain from engaging in teasing or name-calling that is intended to merely distract or annoy others. Teasing and name-calling may be considered a Level II offense if it involves conduct that would violate RPS policies and procedures prohibiting bullying, harassment, hazing, and discrimination.
Level II Offenses
The grid below identifies specific Level II offenses and the manner in which site administrators are expected to respond to Level II offenses after an investigation has been completed.
|RPS Expectation||Violation of Expectation||Response to Violation|
Any of the responses outlined in the Level I grid may be utilized by building administrators in response to a Level II violation. These responses include, but are not limited to:
In addition, the following interventions may be utilized:
- CST, Special Education, and Section 504 Referrals - Referrals to a Child Study Team (CST), as well as referrals for Special Education and Section 504 evaluations, will be made in accordance with applicable legal requirements and procedures established by the RPS Student Services Department. Families and RPS personnel may contact the Student Services Department at (507) 328-4310 with questions related to the referral process.
- In-School Suspension - In-School Suspension (ISS) will be considered as a consequence for a Level II behavior when a building principal, in consultation with instructional staff, has determined that a student’s behavior warrants removing a student from the classroom environment because (1) the student has failed to respond to interventions designed to address prior behavior issues without removing the student from class or (2) it is necessary to temporarily remove the student from classes in order to prevent a disruption to the learning environment. ISS takes place in the regular school building and in a location outside of the general classroom setting. In this setting, students are given a quiet environment which is supervised throughout the day by school staff. Teachers are responsible for providing work for each individual student to complete during the day. During their time in ISS, students will have access to materials to support their learning. Teachers, social workers, and other school personnel are able to meet one-on-one with students during their time in ISS.
School Board Policy 506, consistent with Minnesota law, allows RPS personnel to remove a student from class based upon the following grounds:
a. Willful conduct that significantly disrupts the rights of others to an education, including conduct that interferes with a teacher’s ability to teach or communicate effectively with students in a class or with the ability of other students to learn;
b. Willful conduct that endangers surrounding persons, including school district employees, the student or other students, or the property of the school;
c. Willful violation of any rule of conduct specified in the discipline policy adopted by the board; and
d. Other special circumstances in which a student’s presence in the classroom would result in a risk of harm to persons or property or significantly disrupt the educational environment in the classroom.
Under Minnesota law, a student must be removed from class immediately if the student engages in assault or violent behavior. An “assault” is (1) an act done with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or (2) the intentional infliction of or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another.
- Interim Alternative Educational Placements - RPS may unilaterally change the student’s educational placement for a student receiving special education services / 504 plan up to 45 school days if the student:
a. Possesses a dangerous weapon at school, on school premises, or at a school function;
b. Carries a dangerous weapon to school, on school premises, or at a school function;
c. Knowingly possesses or uses illegal drugs at school, on school premises, or at a school function;
d. Sells or solicits the sale of a controlled substance while at school, on school premises, or at a school function;
e. Has inflicted serious bodily injury upon another person while at school, on school premises, or at a school function.
The IEP team determines the interim alternative educational setting at which the student will be placed. Even though this is a temporary change, the setting must allow the student:
a. To continue to progress in the general curriculum, although in a different setting;
b. To continue to receive those services and modifications, including those described in the student’s IEP, that will help the student meet his or her IEP goals; and
c. Include services and modifications designed to prevent the behavior from recurring.
If the student is placed in an interim alternative educational setting, an IEP team meeting must be convened within ten school days of the decision. At this meeting, the team must discuss the behavior and its relationship to the student’s disability, review evaluation information regarding the behavior, consider teacher observations, parent/guardian input, and determine the appropriateness of the student’s IEP and any behavior plan.
- Out-of-School Suspension - Minnesota law allows RPS to impose an out-of-school suspension whenever a student engages in the following: (1) Willful violation of any school board regulation. Such regulation must be clear and definite to provide notice to students that they must conform their conduct to its requirements; (2) Willful conduct that significantly disrupts the rights of others to an education, or the ability of school personnel to perform their duties, or school sponsored extracurricular activities; or (3) Willful conduct that endangers the student or other students, or surrounding persons, including school district employees, or property of the school.
RPS administration strives to avoid out-of-school suspensions when other interventions may effectively address a student’s behavior. To that end, RPS administrators generally reserve out-of-school suspensions for the following situations:
- Possession or distribution of drugs or alcohol;
- Possession of a weapon or incendiary device; and
- A Level II offense resulting in bodily or emotional harm.
“Bodily or emotional harm” means physical or emotional pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical or emotional condition. RPS reserves the right to impose an out-of-school suspension in situations where it is determined that other interventions or consequences would not be an effective means to address behavior concerns. Prior to imposing an out-of-school suspension, that is not one of the three defined situations, building administrators must contact the RPS Executive Director of Elementary and Secondary Education, or the designee communicated to administrators at the beginning of each school year, to determine whether any similar situations have occurred in the past and, if so, how RPS has responded to previous similar situations.
The first suspension a student receives will typically be between one and three days. Subsequent suspensions for the same conduct may be up to ten days in duration. A general education student may be suspended for up to fifteen days in cases involving a proposed expulsion. Specific requirements addressing suspensions of special education students are outlined in the Appendix to this Handbook.
- Expulsion - Under Minnesota law, an “expulsion” is an action by the RPS School Board to prohibit an enrolled student from further attendance at school for up to twelve months.
Minnesota law allows RPS to pursue expulsion whenever a student engages in the following: (1) Willful violation of any school board regulation. Such regulation must be clear and definite to provide notice to students that they must conform their conduct to its requirements; (2) Willful conduct that significantly disrupts the rights of others to an education, or the ability of school personnel to perform their duties, or school sponsored extracurricular activities; or (3) Willful conduct that endangers the student or other students, or surrounding persons, including school district employees, or property of the school.
Minnesota law requires RPS to pursue expulsion when a student is in possession of a firearm on school grounds. See Minn. Stat. § 121A.44. In other situations, no administrator may move forward with a proposed expulsion unless the RPS Superintendent has reviewed the facts underlying the proposed discipline and has authorized an expulsion. In addition, all expulsions must be specifically authorized by the RPS School Board in accordance with the procedures outlined in Minnesota’s Pupil Fair Dismissal Act. See Minn. Stat. § 121A.47.
The RPS administration will consider pursuing an expulsion or exclusion in any situation where a student was selling or distributing drugs or alcohol, a student was in possession of a weapon or incendiary device, or a student’s continued attendance in RPS schools may result in a significant likelihood of bodily or emotional harm to the student or other individuals, a risk of legal liability for RPS or any RPS employees, or in other unique circumstances where it is determined that other interventions or consequences would not be an effective means to address the student’s behavior.
Minnesota law also allows RPS to impose disciplinary action that is similar to an expulsion when an individual who has engaged in misconduct seeks to enroll in a RPS school. This disciplinary action is called an “exclusion.” An exclusion is an action taken by the RPS School Board to prevent enrollment or re-enrollment of a student for a period that must not extend beyond the school year. RPS applies the same standards to exclusions as it does to expulsions.
- Alternative Educational Services and Readmission Plans - Minnesota law generally requires RPS to attempt to provide alternative educational services to a student before it imposes a suspension, expulsion, or exclusion. This requirement does not apply in situations where it appears a student will create an immediate and substantial danger to the student, to surrounding persons, or to property. RPS also will offer alternative educational services to a student with a disability to the extent the student receives a suspension that exceeds five days. If a student is suspended pending an expulsion proceeding, RPS will offer alternative educational services beginning on the sixth day of suspension.
Minnesota law provides that alternative educational services may include, but are not limited to, special tutoring, modified curriculum, modified instruction, other modifications or adaptations, instruction through electronic media, special education services as indicated by appropriate assessment, homebound instruction, supervised homework, or enrollment in another district or in an alternative learning center selected to allow the pupil to progress toward meeting graduation standards in a different setting. See Minn. Stat. § 121A.41, subd. 11.
When RPS offers alternative educational services, RPS will offer the services that RPS deems most appropriate in light of available RPS resources and a particular student’s behaviors and needs.
In situations where a student is suspended, expelled, excluded, placed in an alternative disciplinary setting, or incarcerated as a direct result of RPS’s referral of the student to law enforcement, RPS staff will schedule a readmission conference before the student transitions back into the regular school community. During the readmission conference, staff will consider whether it would be appropriate to develop a readmission plan, which may include the provision of alternative educational services. As required by Minnesota law, RPS staff will develop a readmission plan for a student who has been expelled or excluded from school in accordance with the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act. The plan may include measures to improve the student’s behavior and require parent or guardian involvement in the admission or readmission process. The plan may also indicate consequences if the student does not improve his or her behavior.
Level II Behaviors Defined
- Abusive Language
- Gang Activity
- Illegal Conduct
- Physical Aggression
- Possession of Weapons, Explosives, Incendiary Devices, or Combustible Substances
- Possession, Distribution, or Use of Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco or Paraphernalia
- Property Damage
- Sexual Assault
- Sexual Misconduct
- Substantial Interruption to the Learning Environment
- Threats of Violence
Abusive language consists of verbal abuse directed at a specific person, such as a teacher or classmate. Verbal abuse is the improper or excessive use of language to humiliate someone, to undermine someone’s dignity, or to undermine someone’s authority. Profanity and insults specifically directed at an individual are considered a form of verbal abuse.
School Board Policy 514 specifically addresses bullying. Policy 514 is referenced on page 34. Policy 514 defines bullying as it is defined in Minn. Stat. § 121A.031. Bullying is defined by Policy 514 and state law as follows:
“Bullying” means intimidating, threatening, abusive, or harming conduct that is objectively offensive and:
- There is an actual or perceived imbalance of power between the student engaging in prohibited conduct and the target of the behavior and the conduct is repeated or forms a pattern; or
- Materially and substantially interferes with a student's educational opportunities or performance or ability to participate in school functions or activities or receive school benefits, services, or privileges.
“Intimidating, threatening, abusive, or harming conduct” includes, but is not limited to, conduct that:
- Causes physical harm to a student or a student’s property or causes a student to be in reasonable fear of harm to person or property;
- Under Minnesota common law, violates a student’s reasonable expectation of privacy, defames a student, or constitutes intentional infliction of emotional distress against a student; or
- Is directed at any student or students, including those based on a person’s actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, creed, religion, national origin, immigration status, sex, marital status, familial status, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, sexual orientation including gender identity or expression, academic status related to student performance, disability, or status with regard to public assistance, age, or any additional characteristic defined in the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”). However, prohibited conduct need not be based on any particular characteristic defined in this paragraph or the MHRA.
Bullying includes “cyberbullying,” which is defined as follows:
Bullying using technology or other electronic communication, including, but not limited to, a transfer of a sign, signal, writing, image, sound, or data, including a post on a social network Internet website or forum, transmitted through a computer, cell phone, or other electronic device. The term applies to prohibited conduct which occurs on school premises, on school district property, at school functions or activities, on school transportation, or on school computers, networks, forums, and mailing lists, or off school premises to the extent that it substantially and materially disrupts student learning or the school environment.
To report an incident of bullying, students and/or families may contact their building administrator or complete the RPS Tip Line form.
School Board Policy 102 states that the policy of RPS is to ensure an equal educational opportunity is provided for all students. To that end, RPS prohibits students from engaging in acts of discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, gender, marital status, parental status, status with regard to public assistance, disability, sexual orientation, or age.
Fighting is defined as hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, shoving, or tripping another individual who is a mutual combatant in a physical altercation. Fighting is distinguishable from physical aggression because physical aggression does not involve a mutual combatant. Physical contact initiated in self-defense may be considered a mitigating factor in the event of a fight, but only if the student acting in self-defense is (1) physically unable to walk away from the fight and (2) uses only the amount of physical force reasonably necessary to prevent the student from incurring bodily injury. A student is not engaging in self-defense if the student uses physical force to exceed the level of force needed to walk away from the fight.
Gangs are groups of persons who act in concert for the purpose of engaging in anti-social or criminal behavior. Gang activities include:
- Wearing or displaying any clothing, jewelry, colors, or insignia that intentionally identifies the student as a member of a gang or otherwise symbolizes support of a gang;
- Using any word, phrase, written symbol, or gesture that intentionally identifies the student as a member of a gang or otherwise symbolizes support of a gang;
- Recruiting students for gangs; and
- Engaging in criminal or anti-social behavior at the direction of another gang member.
School Board Policy 413 prohibits acts of harassment and violence on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, gender, age, marital status, familial status, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation, or disability. Policy 413 generally defines harassment as behavior that consists of physical or verbal conduct, including, but not limited to, electronic communications, relating to an individual’s or group of individuals’ race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, gender, age, marital status, familial status, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation, or disability when the conduct:
- Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment;
- Has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance; or
- Otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment or academic opportunities.
Policy 413 prohibits violence in the form of a physical act of aggression or assault upon another or group of individuals because of, or in a manner reasonably related to, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, familial status, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation, or disability.
School Board Policy 526 specifically addresses hazing. Hazing is defined as committing an act against a student, or coercing a student into committing an act, that creates a substantial risk of harm to a person, in order for the student to be initiated into or affiliated with a student organization, or for any other school-related purpose. The term hazing includes, but is not limited to:
- Any type of physical brutality such as whipping, beating, striking, branding, electronic shocking, or placing a harmful substance on the body;
- Any type of physical activity such as sleep deprivation, exposure to weather, confinement in a restricted area, calisthenics or other activity that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
- Any activity involving the consumption of any alcoholic beverage, drug, tobacco product, or any other food, liquid, or substance that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health or safety of the student;
- Any activity that intimidates or threatens the student with ostracism, that subjects a student to extreme mental stress, embarrassment, shame or humiliation, that adversely affects the mental health or dignity of the student or discourages the student from remaining in school; and
- Any activity that causes or requires the student to perform a task that involves violation of state or federal law or of RPS policies or regulations.
Physical aggression is defined as hitting, kicking, pushing, shoving, tripping, and other similar acts of physical conduct carried out with an intent to cause harm to another individual. Physical aggression does not include conduct that falls within the definition of horseplay, play fighting, or fighting.
Possession of Weapons, Explosives, Incendiary Devices, or Combustible Substances - School Board Policy 501 prohibits students from possessing, using, or distributing weapons. A “weapon” includes any object, device, or instrument designed as a weapon or through its use is capable of threatening or producing bodily harm or which may be used to inflict self-injury including, but not limited to, any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded; air guns; pellet guns; BB guns; rifles, pistols, stun guns; all knives; blades; clubs; metal knuckles; nunchucks (nunchaku); throwing stars; explosives; any combustible or flammable liquid; fireworks; tear gas, mace and other propellants; ammunition; poisons; chains; arrows; and objects that have been modified to serve as a weapon. Students are also prohibited from possessing, using, or distributing items that are intended to look like a weapon. Students are also prohibited from possessing, using, or distributing any kind of incendiary device, regardless of whether the device meets the definition of a weapon. Incendiary devices include any object, device, instrument, or substance designed to start a fire or to emit smoke, sparks, or fire, including, but not limited to, gasoline and other accelerants, matches, butane lighters, fireworks, firecrackers, smoke bombs, and bombs. Students must not possess, use, or distribute items that are intended to look like an incendiary device. Students are not prohibited from using an incendiary device in connection with a legitimate classroom activity at the direction and under the supervision of RPS personnel.
Possession of Weapons, Explosives, Incendiary Devices, or Combustible Substances
School Board Policy 501 prohibits students from possessing, using, or distributing weapons. A “weapon” includes any object, device, or instrument designed as a weapon or through its use is capable of threatening or producing bodily harm or which may be used to inflict self-injury including, but not limited to, any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded; air guns; pellet guns; BB guns; rifles, pistols, stun guns; all knives; blades; clubs; metal knuckles; nunchucks (nunchaku); throwing stars; explosives; any combustible or flammable liquid; fireworks; tear gas, mace and other propellants; ammunition; poisons; chains; arrows; and objects that have been modified to serve as a weapon. Students are also prohibited from possessing, using, or distributing items that are intended to look like a weapon. Students are also prohibited from possessing, using, or distributing any kind of incendiary device, regardless of whether the device meets the definition of a weapon. Incendiary devices include any object, device, instrument, or substance designed to start a fire or to emit smoke, sparks, or fire, including, but not limited to, gasoline and other accelerants, matches, butane lighters, fireworks, firecrackers, smoke bombs, and bombs. Students must not possess, use, or distribute items that are intended to look like an incendiary device. Students are not prohibited from using an incendiary device in connection with a legitimate classroom activity at the direction and under the supervision of RPS personnel.
Possession, Distribution, or Use of Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco or Paraphernalia
Students may not possess, distribute, or use alcohol, drugs, or tobacco (including any oral device that provides a vapor of liquid nicotine, lobelia, and/or other similar substances intended for human consumption, and the use or inhalation which simulates smoking, synthetic or lookalike substances) or paraphernalia inside school buildings, on school grounds, and at school-related activities and events. Students must also follow these expectations on school buses or vans and at bus stops. Paraphernalia is any equipment, utensil, apparatus, or tool used in connection with alcohol, drug, or tobacco use.
Property damage will be a Level II violation when it involves the intentional damage, destruction, vandalism, or breaking of another individual’s property or RPS property. By way of example, property damage includes intentional acts such as damaging or destroying textbooks and other school equipment, using technology to download or deploy unauthorized or malicious software, spray painting surfaces, acts of vandalism, and damaging or destroying the property of another student.
Sexual misconduct includes verbal attempts to initiate sexual contact with another person and any form of touching of a sexual nature, with or without consent of the other party. Sexual misconduct also includes exchanging pornographic, obscene, or otherwise sexually suggestive photographs or messages with another person, including behavior commonly referred to as “sexting.” Pornographic material or pornography is defined as material (such as writings, photographs, or videos) depicting sexual activity or erotic behavior in a way that is designed to arouse sexual excitement.
Substantial Interruption to the Learning Environment
A substantial interruption to the learning environment occurs when a student engages in behavior that interferes with the learning environment in a school building to the degree that RPS personnel are unable to deliver instruction to other students. Students do not have the right to interfere with other students’ right to receive an education. If a teacher or other personnel makes an office referral for a substantial interruption to the learning environment, the staff member must describe to building administration the specific interventions that were attempted before the student’s behavior was determined to cause a substantial interruption. If the teacher or personnel did not attempt an intervention, the staff member must describe to building administration why it was determined an intervention would not be successful.
Threats of Violence
Students must stay in designated areas of the school to which they have been assigned. Students must have permission from a building administrator, or must be escorted by a parent, guardian, caregiver, or emergency contact person, if they enter a building other than their school. Trespassing includes breaking and entering into locked or private areas, such as other students’ lockers, administrative office areas, and supply cabinets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are frequently asked questions about RPS discipline:
- Who should families contact with questions related to discipline issues?
- What is the role of a School Resource Officer?
- How does RPS address attendance issues?
- How does RPS treat behavior on school buses and vans?
- How does RPS treat behavior in school parking lots?
- Is there an appeals process for student discipline?
- Does RPS have recommended resources to assist families with developing self-management skills?
Who should families contact with questions related to discipline issues?
If a family has questions or concerns related to a specific Level I incident, a student’s classroom teacher is the best person to contact for an initial discussion related to the incident. For Level II incidents, families should contact the building principal if they have questions or concerns related to a specific incident. If a family would like to file a complaint about the manner in which school staff handled a disciplinary matter, the complaint should be directed to the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
What is the role of a School Resource Officer?
SROs serve multiple roles in schools. The functions are interrelated, but all are carried out to contribute to school safety and security and promote positive and supportive school climates. Key roles are:
- Civic Engagement and Educator - SROs will strive to assist with presentations for school personnel on law-related topics such as law enforcement practices, changes in relevant laws, crime trends, crime prevention, school safety strategies, and crisis response procedures. SROs may also deliver law-related education with students using lessons approved in advance by the School Administration.
- Informal mentor and role model - Students often seek approval, direction, and guidance from adults in the school setting about various problems. Through formal and informal interaction with students, SROs serve as informal mentors and role models. SROs are expected to communicate to students about acceptable and unacceptable behavior, set a positive example in handling stressful situations, resolve conflicts, show respect and consideration of others, and express high expectations for student behavior. Students who may need additional assistance shall be referred to a school-based or community-based resource.
- Law enforcement officer - As sworn law enforcement officers, the SROs assume primary responsibility for responding to requests for assistance from administrators and coordinating the response of other law enforcement resources to the school.
How does RPS address attendance issues?
School Board Policy 503 generally outlines RPS’s expectations with respect to student attendance. As noted above, isolated instances in which a student is tardy will be handled at the classroom level as a Level I offense. Repeated tardiness may warrant an office referral. Unexcused absences are otherwise addressed outside of the traditional Level I and Level II offense framework in light of specific statutory provisions related to compulsory school attendance. In accordance with Minnesota law, RPS works in partnership with the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office to address truancy issues pursuant to the following intervention procedures:
- If a student has three or more unexcused absences, the student’s parent or guardian will be notified.
- After a seventh unexcused absence, the student and his or her parent or guardian is invited to attend a parent information meeting with a representative of the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office. During the parent information meeting, the family will be advised of why the student should attend school and the legal consequences associated with continued absences. RPS will work with families to develop specific interventions to address attendance issues following the parent information meeting.
- If a student continues to have unexcused absences after the parent intervention meeting, the student and his or her parent or guardian will be invited to participate in a Student Attendance Review Team (“SART”) meeting and to develop a contract designed to improve the student’s attendance.
- If the student continues to have unexcused absences after the SART meeting, RPS will work with the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office to initiate appropriate legal proceedings, such as a Child in Need of Protection or Services (“CHIPS”) petition based on neglect or truancy.
How does RPS treat behavior on school buses and vans?
Transportation by RPS is generally a privilege and not a right. Students are expected to comply with the provisions of this Handbook and all other transportation-related rules communicated to them while they are at bus stops and while they are receiving RPS-provided transportation. School Board Policy 709 outlines specific RPS expectations for student behavior while students receive RPS-provided transportation. RPS provides annual school bus safety training to students who are in Kindergarten through Grade 10. A student’s eligibility to receive transportation may be suspended or revoked if the student persistently engages in Level I offenses or engages in a Level II offense while on a bus or van or while at a bus stop. To view the rules on the bus, visit the Transportation web page.
How does RPS treat behavior in school parking lots?
School parking lots are considered school grounds for purposes of implementing RPS discipline policies and procedures. The same behavioral expectations that apply in school buildings apply in school parking lots. Parking on school grounds is a privilege, not a right. Students only may park in areas that are designated for student parking. In addition to the behavioral consequences outlined in this Handbook, students who engage in misconduct in an RPS parking lot may have their parking privileges suspended or revoked. If a student parks in an unauthorized area or if an unauthorized vehicle is parked in a RPS parking lot, RPS may move the vehicle, require the owner to move the vehicle, or have the vehicle removed from RPS property and towed to a location off RPS grounds at the owner’s expense. Student vehicles parked on RPS property may be subject to a search if RPS personnel have a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover evidence of illegal conduct or a violation of RPS rules and policies. School Board Policy 527 specifically addresses student use and parking of motor vehicles.
Is there an appeals process for student discipline?
Minnesota’s Pupil Fair Dismissal Act provides for an appeals process in situations involving a student expulsion or exclusion. See Minn. Stat. § 121A.47. There is not a formal appeals process for other forms of discipline. As noted earlier, families who believe a disciplinary matter was not handled properly at the building level may contact the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Does RPS have recommended resources to assist families with developing self-management skills?
Yes. Information about these resources may be obtained from Mr. Runsewe, the RPS Discipline Supervisor, or a building principal. Self-management resources include the following:
Preschool and Elementary Students:
- Learning to Feel Good and Stay Cool by Judith Glasser and Kathleen Nadeu
- Self-Control to the Rescue by Lauren Brukner
- Listening to My Body by Gabi Garcia
- Parenting a Child who has Intense Emotions by Pat Harvey and Jeanine Penzo
Middle and High School Students:
- Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life by Sheri Van Dijk
- A 5 is Against the Law by Kari Dunn Buron
- The Explosive Child by Ross Greene
Discipline Guidelines for Special Education
|IEP Team Meeting Required||Manifestation Determination Required 1||Functional Behavioral Assessment Plan Required 2||Alternative Education Services Required|
|Student removed for one school day or less||No*||No*||No*||No*|
|Student suspended for less than five consecutive school days or less||No*||No*||No*||No*|
|Student suspended for six or more consecutive school days||Yes||No*||No*||Yes|
|Student removed for 10 cumulative days or less in a school year or more||No*||No*||No*||No*|
|Student removed for 11 cumulative days in a school year or more||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Student placed on in-school suspension||No**||No**||No**||No**|
|Student suspended from the bus||Depends***||Depends***||Depends***||Depends***|
1 “Manifestation Determination” is a process to determine if a student’s behavior problem was or was not a manifestation of the student’s disability.
2 A “Functional Behavioral Assessment” is a process for gathering information to understand the structure and function of a student’s behavior(s) in order to develop an effective and efficient behavioral support plan that teaches and encourages alternative behaviors.
* Unless the student has been removed 11 or more cumulative days in a school year. Minn. Stat. 121A.43(a).
** In-school suspension is not considered a day of suspension for a student with a disability as long as the student continues to receive regular and special education services during the in-school suspension.
*** If bus transportation is part of the student’s IEP, a bus suspension would be treated as a removal unless the school provides transportation in some other way, because that transportation is necessary for the student to obtain access to the location where all other services will be delivered. If bus transportation is not a part of the student’s IEP, a bus suspension typically would not be a removal.
Rules, Rights, and Regulations
Parents and Guardians should familiarize themselves with these policies. RPS policies in their entirety are located on RPS BoardDocs website.
100 - School District
400 – Employees and Personnel
- School Board Policy 402 – Disability Nondiscrimination Policy
- School Board Policy 404 – Background Checks
- School Board Policy 413 – Harassment and Violence
- School Board Policy 417 – Chemical Use and Abuse
- School Board Policy 418 – Drug-Free Workplace/Drug-Free Schools
- School Board Policy 419 – Tobacco-Free Environment
500 – Students
- School Board Policy 501 – Weapons Prohibition
- School Board Policy 502 – Search of Student Lockers, Desks, Personal Possessions, and Student's Person
- School Board Policy 503 – Student Attendance
- School Board Policy 504 – Student Dress and Appearance
- School Board Policy 505 – Distribution of Nonschool-Sponsored Materials on School Premises by Students and Employees
- School Board Policy 506 – Student Discipline
- School Board Policy 510 – School Activities
- School Board Policy 514 – Bullying Prohibition
- School Board Policy 515 – Protection and Privacy of Pupil Records
- School Board Policy 516 – Student Medication
- School Board Policy 518 – DNR-DNI Orders
- School Board Policy 520 – Student Surveys
- School Board Policy 521 – Student Disability Nondiscrimination
- School Board Policy 522 – Student Sex Nondiscrimination
- School Board Policy 524 – Internet Acceptable Use and Safety Policy
- School Board Policy 526 – Hazing Prohibition
- School Board Policy 527 – Student Use and Parking of Motor Vehicles; Patrols, Inspections, and Searches
- School Board Policy 528 – Student, Parental, Family and Marital Status Nondiscrimination
- School Board Policy 529 – Staff Notification of Violent Behavior by Students
- School Board Policy 530 – Immunization Requirements
- School Board Policy 531 – The Pledge of Allegiance
- School Board Policy 533 – Wellness
- School Board Policy 534 – School Meals Policy
- School Board Policy 550 – Student Medical Emergency
600 – Education Programs
700 – Business
- School Board Policy 707 – Transportation of Public School Students
- School Board Policy 709 – Student Transportation Safety
800 – Buildings and Sites
- School Board Policy 806 – Crisis Management
- School Board Policy 808 - COVID-19 Face Covering Guidance
900 – School District-Community Relations
District Policy 506, 522, 524
District Policy 506
II. GENERAL STATEMENT OF POLICY
The School Board recognizes that appropriate school behavior is critical to academic success, to establishing a safe and effective learning environment for all students, and to assure a safe and orderly working environment for School District personnel. This policy and all guidelines established by School District administration pursuant to this policy are intended to accomplish the following policy objectives:
- The School Board is committed to providing a safe and supportive learning environment for all students and to ensuring that students’ learning is not disrupted by the behavior of other students.
- The School Board is committed to fostering a safe and supportive working environment for School District personnel.
- The School Board recognizes the negative impact caused by lost student instruction time due to removals from class and strives to minimize such removals when other interventions are an effective means to address student behavior.
- The School Board is committed to employing Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (“PBIS”) strategies within the School District’s schools in an effort to teach students appropriate behavior through instruction, practice, feedback, and encouragement.
Click the image to the left to review District Policy 506 on student discipline. This policy can also be viewed on the District BoardDocs website, School Board Policy 506 – Student Discipline.
District Policy 522
I.GENERAL STATEMENT OF POLICY
- The school district prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all forms, including sexual harassment.
- The school district does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities, and it is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, and its implementing regulations, not to discriminate in such a manner. The requirement not to discriminate in its education program or activity extends to admission and employment. The school district is committed to maintaining an education and work environment that is free from discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment.
Click the image to the left to review District Policy 522 or visit the District BoardDocs website, School Board Policy 522 – Student Sex Nondiscrimination.
District Policy 524
III. GENERAL STATEMENT OF POLICY
In making decisions regarding student and employee access to and use of Electronic Technology, the School District considers its own stated educational mission, goals, and objectives. The School District expects that staff will blend thoughtful use of Electronic Technology throughout the curriculum and will provide guidance and instruction to students in their use of such technology. Students and staff will be provided with opportunities to practice safe and ethical use of Electronic Technology at school to provide students with a relevant education. The School District may also use these tools and other communication technologies in fulfilling its responsibility for effectively communicating with the general public.
Click the image to the left to review District Policy 524 or visit the District BoardDocs website, School Board Policy 524 – Internet Acceptable Use and Safety Policy.
In order to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for all students and staff, RPS will follow public health guidelines for health related policies and communicable disease. It is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to notify the Health Office at the student’s school regarding health concerns or changes in student health status. For more information, contact your school Health Office or the Health Services web page.
When a student is sick, parents often wonder whether or not to keep a child at home from school. Staying home and resting will help the body fight the sickness and is one of the best ways to keep others from becoming ill. For more information regarding appropriate times to keep your child at home, visit the Health Services web page.
Conjunctivitis (pinkeye) is a common illness spread among young children, and causes redness and inflammation of both the eye and eyelid. Conjunctivitis is easily spread and typically resolves without medication. While it is contagious as long as symptoms are present, the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that the risks associated with conjunctivitis infection are comparable to those of the common cold. Based on current research, cases of conjunctivitis now require no exclusion from school or childcare settings unless there is a fever present or the child is not healthy enough to participate in routine activities. If a fever is present, or if there is eye pain/discharge, it is recommended that the child be seen by their health care provider.
In order to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for all students and staff, RPS will follow public health guidelines for head lice and communicable diseases. Head lice infestation is a common problem among students. Although they are a nuisance, head lice do not transmit disease. School transmission is rare. If students are found to have live lice in their hair, parent/guardians will be contacted by a health office staff member. The students may remain in school until the end of the school day and return to school after the first application of treatment has been completed per directions sent home with the students.
By law, a number of infectious diseases must be reported to the Minnesota Department of Health. The health office should be notified when a student has a communicable disease (e.g. chicken pox, strep throat, pertussis, norovirus, COVID-19) so appropriate measures may be taken. Notices may be sent home with other students when these conditions occur in a classroom. For a list of common childhood diseases, symptoms, communicability, and source of infection, please visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.
The Emotional and Mental Well-being Team promotes the social development, well-being, mental health, and academic achievement of all RPS students. Our interdisciplinary team promotes positive student connections with peers, family, school, and community. We support students’ development of healthy relationships, self-reflection, problem-solving skills and academic planning to optimize college and career readiness.
The Team consists of professionals from several different areas of focus and training:
- Chemical Health Specialists are Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors that support students struggling with substance use. The district employs two chemical health specialists housed at John Marshall High School and the Rochester Alternative Learning Center.
- Mental Health Practitioners provide services to promote the development of skills that students do not have because of their mental health diagnosis. They provide services to students with the highest level of need through an embedded coaching model. The district employs 32 MHPs across the district, from early childhood through transition-age programs.
- School-Based Mental Health Therapists are employed by our community mental health partner agencies that provide mental health therapy and skills services within our school building. Services are available at 15 different buildings across the district.
- School Counselors are masters-level trained and licensed professionals that help students apply academic achievement strategies, manage emotions and build interpersonal skills, support mental health needs, and plan for postsecondary options (higher education, military, work force). All schools have a school counselor and our secondary buildings have multiple counselors.
- School Social Workers are licensed professionals that support the non-academic needs of students. They can assist with mental health concerns, social-emotional or behavioral concerns, basic living needs, and connecting with resources as well as provide direct services to students.
- Student Resiliency Specialists serve as a first point of contact for students at the high school setting. They provide individual and group support to students and facilitate connections with the other providers. At several schools, they also provide oversight to peer support programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
- I am worried about my own mental health. What can I do?
- If you are concerned about your own mental health, often the best thing you can do is to share with someone you trust how you are feeling. Many people suffering with mental illness stay silent which only makes symptoms worse. There is help available and even just sharing your worries, thoughts and feelings may help you feel better. A first step you can take right now is completing the screener that can be found at this link: http://www.mentalhealthscreeningtools.com/If the screener indicates a concern, share the results with a trusted adult or schedule an appointment with someone on the Emotional and Mental Well-being Team.
- Will you tell my parents?
- Students can request to meet with a member of the EMW Team without consent from parents, similar to how you could ask to talk with your teacher or principal. If you are meeting consistently, they may need to get consent from your parent/guardian, but they will talk with you first before reaching out.
- What should I expect if I schedule an appointment with a member of the Emotional and Mental Well-being Team?
- The provider will spend some time getting to know you and what is troubling you. They may use a screening tool and talk through the results with you. Together you will think through the issues and develop some next steps that you could take.
- Where can I learn more?
Vision and Hearing Screenings
Students will be screened to identify potential vision or hearing concerns. The screenings are not intended to replace professional examinations. Students in first grade will have a vision and hearing Page | 62 screening. Students in third and seventh grades will only have a vision screening. Vision and hearing screenings will also be performed on elementary and middle school students new to Rochester Public Schools. If you wish your child to be excluded from either or both of these screenings, please notify your student’s health office at the beginning of every school year. Vision and/or hearing screenings may also be performed for a student if there is parent or teacher concern. Parents will be notified through a referral process if the student does not pass either screening. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in the 2020-2021 school year, mass screenings were not conducted. For the current school year, if current COVID-19 protocols allow, screenings will be provided to students in first, third, and seventh grades. Additional screenings may be provided to students that were not screened the previous year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
FERPA and Student Privacy
Notification of Rights Under FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) affords parents and students who are 18 years of age or older (“eligible students”) certain rights with respect to the student’s education records. These rights are:
- The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within forty-five (45) days after the day the District receives a request for access.
Parents or eligible students who wish to inspect their child’s or their education records should submit to the District a written request that identifies as precisely as possible the records they wish to inspect. Since the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (“MGDPA”) outlines a shorter time period for responding to a records request made by the subject of the records, the District will respond to the written request immediately, if possible, or within ten (10) days (excluding weekends and legal holidays), and arrange for inspection and review at one District site at a mutually agreeable time during normal business hours. If a parent or eligible student requests copies of records, the District reserves the right to impose a copying charge to the extent permitted by law. Requests to inspect records should be submitted to the District’s Superintendent, who acts as the “Responsible Authority” pursuant to the MGDPA.
- The right to request the amendment of the student’s education records that the parent or eligible student believes are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA.
Parents or eligible students who wish to ask the District to amend their child’s or their education record should submit to the District a written request that clearly identifies the item the requestor believes to be inaccurate, misleading or in violation of the privacy or other rights of the student; states the reason for this belief; and specifies the correction the requestor wishes the District to make. The request must be signed and dated by the requestor. The request should be submitted to the District’s Superintendent.
The District will decided whether to amend the record within thirty (30) days of receipt of the request. If the District decides not to amend the record as requested by the parent or eligible student, the District will notify the parent or eligible student of the decision and of their right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the parent or eligible student when notified of the right to a hearing.
- The right to provide written consent before the District discloses personally identifiable information (“PII”) from the student’s education records, except to the extent that federal and state law authorize disclosure without consent.
One exception, which permits disclosure without consent, is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official includes: (a) a person duly elected to the School Board; (b) a person employed by the School Board in an administrative, supervisory, instructional or other professional position; (c) a person employed by the School Board as a temporary substitute in a professional position for the period of his or her performance as a substitute; and (d) a person employed by, or under contract to, the School Board to perform a special task such as a secretary, a clerk, as public information officer or data practices compliance official, an attorney, or an auditor for the period of his or her performance as an employee or contractor. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the interest directly relates to classroom instruction, teaching, student achievement and progress, discipline of a student, student health and welfare, and the ability to respond to a request for education data.
A legitimate educational interest includes, but is not limited to, a person’s need to know in order to: (1) perform an administrative task required in the person’s contract or position description; (2) perform a supervisory or instructional task directly related to the student’s education; (3) perform a service or benefit for the student or student’s family such as health care, counseling, student job placement or student financial aid; and (4) perform a task directly related to responding to a request for data.
Upon request, the District discloses education records without consent to officials of another school, school district, or institution of post-secondary education in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, or is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes of the student’s enrollment or transfer.
- The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the District to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA are: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20202
Student Privacy Information
This is a required information notice regarding how Rochester Public Schools has defined public directory information, how Rochester Public Schools will share basic contact information with military recruiters and post-secondary institutions, and how families may exercise the right to “opt out” of certain information sharing. Please take a moment to read this information, and if you wish to make your student’s directory information private or limit the disclosure of information on your student to military recruiters and postsecondary institutions, you will need to complete the appropriate forms by October 1.
Consistent with State and Federal law, School Board Policy 515 designates “directory information” as information contained in an education record of a student which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. It includes, but is not limited to: the student’s name, address, telephone listing, photograph, digital image, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, grade level, enrollment status (i.e. full-time or part-time), participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, degrees, honors and awards received, and the most recent educational agency or institution attended. It also includes the name, address and telephone number of the student’s parent(s). Directory information does not include personally identifiable data which references religion, race, color, social position, nationality; social security numbers; student I.D. numbers, user IDs or other unique personal identifiers that may be used to access educational records without the use of one or more factors that authenticate the student’s identity; or data collected from nonpublic school students, other than those who receive shared time educational services, unless written consent is given by the student’s parent or guardian.
Procedure for Making Any Student’s Directory Information Private
Directory information is classified as public information, unless a family completes an “opt out” form requesting some or all directory information to be treated as private. The parent or eligible student must complete Form 515A1 Notice of Right to Refuse Release of Public Data which will provide written notice to the Office of Registration & Records and will include the following:
- Name of the student and/or parent, as appropriate
- Home address
- School presently attended by student
- Parent’s legal relationship to student, if applicable
- Specific categories of directory information to be made not public without the parent’s or eligible student’s prior written consent, which will only be applicable for that school year
Disclosure of Data to Military Recruitment Officers and Post-Secondary Educational Institutions
The School District will release the names, addresses, and home telephone numbers of secondary students in grades 11 and 12 to military recruiting officers and post-secondary educational institutions within sixty (60) days after the date of the request unless a parent or eligible student has refused in writing to the release of information to military recruiters and post-secondary institutions. Data released to military recruiting officers under this provision: 1) may be used only for the purpose of providing information to students about military service, state and federal veterans’ education benefits, and other career and educational opportunities provided by the military; and 2) cannot be further disseminated to any other person except personnel of the recruiting services of the armed forces.
A parent or eligible student has the right to refuse the release of the name, address, or home telephone number to military recruiting officers and post-secondary educational institutions. To refuse the release of the above information to military recruiting officers and post-secondary educational institutions, a parent or eligible student must complete Form 515A2 Notice of Right to Refuse Release of Public Data to Military Recruiters and/or Post Secondary Institutions which will provide written notice to the Office of Registration & Records and will include the following:
- Name of student and parent, as appropriate
- Home address
- Student’s grade level
- School presently attended by student
- Parent’s legal relationship to student, if applicable
- Specific category or categories of information which are not to be released to military recruiters and post-secondary educational institutions
- Specific category or categories of information which are not to be released to the public, including military recruiters and post-secondary educational institutions.
- Even if a family or eligible student completes a Form 515A2, the District will still disclose without consent to officials of another school, school district, or institution of post-secondary education in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, or is already enrolled if the disclosure for purposes of the student’s enrollment or transfer.
Completed forms may be faxed to (507) 281-6086, or emailed to the Office of Registration and Records, or dropped off at the Edison Administration Building, Registration and Records Department, 615 7th Street SW, Rochester, MN 55902.
MN Statewide Testing
Testing is used in schools to measure student achievement. State tests are given to students in a district once a year, based on their grade level and subject area. Classroom tests are given by individual teachers on a more regular basis and may include quizzes, mid-terms, chapter tests, and final exams, among others. Both types of tests give educators an idea of how well their students are learning the concepts presented to them in the classroom.
Minnesota Department of Education provides a variety of resources on its website to address statewide testing including the Parent/Guardian Guide and Refusal for Student Participation in Statewide Testing Form below.
The MDE testing guide is also available in other languages. Please use the documents below:
- Testing Guide - SPANISH
- Testing Guide - SOMALI
- Testing Guide - CHINESE
- Testing Guide - ARABIC
- Testing Guide - VIETNAMESE
For any questions, please contact our bilingual specialists at (507) 328-4327.
Student Technology Agreement
Rochester Public Schools (RPS) offers a technology device checkout program for students to aid in distance, at-home, and online learning due to the COVID-19 emergency response and school closures.
A student’s privilege of possession and use of a District issued device is limited to, and conditioned upon, full and complete compliance with the applicable standards for acceptable use of a device set out in this Student Technology Device Use Agreement, as well as the District’s Internet Acceptable Use and Safety Policy 524, Student Handbook, and/or Student Code of Conduct.
Click the image to the left to review the RPS Student Technology Device Use Agreement.
Download a printable version of the Student Handbook for the 2022-2023 School year:
If you'd like to go over the printable handbook in a different language, please contact our bilingual specialists at (507) 328-4237 or utilize our translation button, found on the bottom of our website.