Posted: March 30th, 2022

Developing student codes of conduct



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Student codes of conduct reflect the values, mission, and ethics of the school. This high school comprises only four grades (9 to 12), but it is a large, suburban school with more than 1500 students. The school has magnet programs, as well as a highly developed Advanced Placement (AP) course program, boasting over 50% enrollment. There are almost 100 full-time teachers. A large percentage, more than 85%, of the school is non-white, and significant number are from an economically disadvantaged household or community. Yet this school has consistently placed well in national rankings due to a dedication to academics, civic engagement, ethical values, and community service.


The mission of the school is to provide a supportive and safe learning environment that promotes the cultivation of individual talents, personal responsibility, collaboration, and civic engagement. The school’s vision statement is: All learners reach their highest potential and contribute to their communities.




The specific values that undergird the Student Code of Conduct include the following:


· All students will consider their role in their community and in society as they prepare for the future.


· All students take personal responsibility for their actions, interacting with others with kindness, respect, and empathy.


· All students thrive in a supportive, safe environment that respects the rights of others.


· All students will learn the value of social and emotional intelligence, in addition to their pursuit of academic excellence.


· All students will empower themselves and others through their efforts.


· All students learn healthy, pro-social conflict resolution and stress management techniques.




· Regular attendance. Model students attend school regularly, out of respect for themselves, their teachers, and their fellow students. Model students also avoid tardiness, and when necessary, provide valid reasons for absenteeism and lateness.


· Dress code. Model students dress in a respectful manner, but are free to express themselves with a personal sense of style.


· Academic honesty. Model students are honest in their self-presentation in class assignments, refraining from all types of plagiarism, cheating, and other types of academic honesty.


· Participation: Model students participate in class, as well as in extracurricular activities, community service, and internship programs available to them in the community.


· Kindness and Respect: Model students speak and act in a way that validates and respects other people. Students show empathy for others, using language that empowers and supports. Students appreciate and relish in the diversity of the student body. Students show respect to fellow students, staff and faculty, and also to themselves.


· Courage: Students stand up for what they believe in and speak out if they witness any injustices.


· Civic Pride: Students pay attention to and care about their environment, avoiding any form of vandalism and demonstrating pride in their communities.




This school’s Student Code of Conduct reflects the core values, ethics, and mission of the school. The school establishes education as the foundation for civic life, personal development, and social engagements. Students are encouraged to go beyond classroom instruction, to learn about the values of tolerance and respect in their communications with others. Emotional and social intelligence are part of the core values of the school, embedded in the mission, vision, and code of conduct. These core values are substantiated by scholarly literature that shows how schools establish a normative culture that prevents bullying, hate speech, and other problematic behaviors, stimulating a strongly supportive and safe environment (Noonan, Tunney, Fogel, et al, 1999). Through the cultivation of pro-social values, students learn also to take pride in their community, which is a core ethical concern embedded in the Student Code of Conduct.


The student code of conduct reflects research in best practices in educational management, educational psychology, and student motivation. As Raby (2005) points out, promoting student self-efficacy and personal responsibility is also important in a school mission statement and its student code of conduct. Personal responsibility requires the school to offer a code of conduct that still allows students to make choices; that does not unduly restrict their actions. By adolescence, students are aware of the irregularity and inconsistency of social norms, and will question any policy that does not have direct meaning in their lives or that does not conform to the school’s overall mission and values. Least restrictive environments are those that enable adolescents like those attending this high school to make informed choices about their dress and other means of personal self-expression. Likewise, Pavela (1980) warns against “unnecessary procedural complexity,” advising a broader, more value-driven student code of conduct (p. 137). Finally, the ethic of courage is built into this Student Code of Conduct. This provision was based on research by Curtis (2013), which shows that compassionate citizens cultivate a strong sense of conviction and an ability to speak out against injustice.


















Curtis, K. (2013). Learning the requirements for compassionate practice. Nursing Ethics 21(2): 210-223.


Noonan, B., Tunney, K., Fogel, B., et al (1999). Developing student codes of conduct. School Psychology International 20(3): 289-299.


Pavela, G. (1980). Limiting the “pursuit of perfect justice” on campus. 6 J.C. & U.L. 137 (1979-1980)  


Raby, R. (2005). Polite, well-dressed, and on time. Canadian Review of Sociology 42(1): 71-91.

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