Discipline at our Peer Schools How Choate, Deerfield, Exeter and Loomis Deal with Discipline

With 15 student disciplinary representatives, student involvement in Andover’s DC system is larger than student participation in the DC systems of its peer schools. Andover, Phillips Exeter Academy, Loomis Chaffee, Deerfield Academy and Choate Rosemary Hall have similar disciplinary procedures. At all five schools, one member of the administration holds the right to make the final disciplinary decision, even if their decision opposes the committee’s recommendation. Exeter’s disciplinary committee holds more power in decision-making. Paul Murphy, Dean of Students and Residential Life, said, “I think that the final [disciplinary] decision [at Andover] should be up to the Dean of Students, because it alleviates the pressure on the Disciplinary Committee of its ultimate responsibility in decision making.” At Andover, the Head of School is not involved in the disciplinary process. “We’ve moved away from the model where the Head of School makes all decisions. The Dean of Students makes the final decision and if a student or family wants to appeal the decision, they can send the plea to me or Mrs. Sykes,” said Murphy. For major offenses, Andover follows the general guidelines shared by most schools. Andover, Deerfield, Loomis, and Exeter administer probation as the standard result for disciplinary committee hearings regarding major rule violations such as abuse of illicit substances. Murphy said, “As long as the offense is not egregious, [Andover’s] tradition is to not apply the one-strike policy. I think that most faculty members would support the fact that kids learn from their mistakes.” “Over the past five to 10 years, there have been several situations in which the first violation has been so egregious that the student was required to withdraw, but those are rare cases,” he continued. Across the board, most schools consider academic and personal dishonesty as a major and important breach of educational conduct. At all five schools, the disciplinary response to plagiarism or dishonesty ranges from probation, suspension and even dismissal. Loomis Students at Loomis Chaffee School work and play in an environment that fosters responsibility. Woody Hess, Dean of Students at the Loomis Chaffee School, said, “It’s not the rules that matter, it’s the accountability of the students.” Loomis Chaffee operates on a second-chance system, where major violations are brought to the attention of the Dean of Students, and usually result in two days of work on campus grounds and additional probationary status. Major violations include dishonesty, possession or use of drugs and alcohol, violation of parietal rules, engagement in sexual intercourse or oral sex, sexual harassment and six unexcused absences. A second violation of these major rules would require a meeting with the Disciplinary Committee, a situation that only occurs when dismissal is a probability. A student’s offense may be immediately presented to the Disciplinary Committee if the offense is egregious. In this situation, the Dean of Students would decide if the act necessitates referral to the Disciplinary Committee, a board that is comprised of three students, three faculty members, the Dean of Students, the Head of School, the advisor of the student and the student’s dormitory head. Hess said, “The Disciplinary Committee is only consulted after a second violation, or an egregious act, and almost always results in automatic dismissal of the student.” This procedure is common amongst most prep schools, however the minor violation procedure and days of work policy is unique to Loomis. Minor violations such as attendance, gambling, dress-code violations and unauthorized on-campus permission normally result in no repercussions other than a conversation with the Dean of Students or a Saturday night study hall. Students are also put on different level sanctions: Level I stands for minor violations, and Level II stands for major violations. Two Level I sanctions constitute a Level II status, and result in the standard two days of work and probation status. Hess said, “The different levels are simply theoretical conditions that students must face while they’re working. Sometimes the students are restricted from social events, but it’s not about that.” “The levels are there so that the student understands that they need to be more responsible. The student’s family might be notified, but it is more of a personal understanding for the student,” he continued. The standard and common repercussion for Level II sanction is two days of work duty for the school. This form of work discipline is supervised by the head of the work program and usually entails cleaning the campus grounds. Hess said, “We used to send kids home for two days if they were on Level II status, but we’ve changed that rule because it fell unequally between students.” “Some students couldn’t go home because they lived too far away, others’ parents wouldn’t be strict with them, so the administration created this policy that requires students to do campus work for two days instead of returning home,” he continued. Katherine Gabriel, a student at Loomis Chaffee, said, “When we get in trouble, we are required two days of work hours to reflect on what we did and what we learned. Although I understand what the school is trying to accomplish regarding drugs, alcohol, and stealing, realistically, most kids choose to keep on breaking the rules.” Another rule that has been changed recently was the regulation regarding sexual intimacy on campus. Two years ago, Loomis Chaffee changed their policy restricting co-ed visitation because students thought it was unfair. According to Hess, at the suggestion of the students, the school adopted a policy against sexual intimacy. If students are caught having oral sex or intercourse, it is considered a Level II offense, and will require the standard 2 days of work and probationary status. Hess said, “Our school has a more centralized system than other prep schools, because although our major rules are strict, we allow second chances, and lesser discipline for minor violations allows students to become more responsible.” CHOATE Choate runs its disciplinary system in a similar manner to Andover. Form deans, which are class-based officials, investigate all violations of school expectations. The form deans then decide with the Dean of Students on the necessary outcome and form of adjudication. Judicial Committees, like Disciplinary Committees, convene in response to student violations of major school rules, which include conflicts of personal or academic integrity, such as plagiarism or hazing. The Judicial Committees hear cases that may result in probation, suspension or dismissal. All students retain the right to request a hearing, except in the most sensitive situations. The committees vary in size, but always consist of elected student and faculty representatives, an appointed faculty advisor and form deans. John Ford, Dean of Students at Choate Rosemary Hall, said that adult members attend the meetings, but that students constitute the majority. He also said that he retains the right to reshape the committee in certain cases. Members of the Judicial Committee take a final vote in order to arrive at a conclusion. They then present their recommended disciplinary action to the Dean of Students. However, the Dean of Students makes all final decisions, in consultation with the Head of School. Students may receive restriction, disciplinary warning, probation, suspension or dismissal. Kyle Williams, a student at Choate, said, “I underwent disciplinary responses, and speaking form personal experience, the Judicial Committee can be really scary.” Williams continued, “It doesn’t leave much room for negotiation in most cases. However, I like the presence of student representatives. They make the process less intimidating, depending on the severity of your case.” Choate’s student handbook states, “In all cases, the school reserves the right to take immediate action—including Dismissal—without recourse to the Judicial Committee.” Ford said, “I think our disciplinary system is reasonably straightforward and clear. We try as best as we can to always watch out for both the school and the individual.” “We always want to find the right balance for what’s right for both parties,” said Ford. Choate deals with issues concerning illicit substances and sex with a different method. The Dean of Students, form deans and students discuss these cases through Dean Committees. The school provides a non-disciplinary alternative to drug and alcohol as well. Crisis Intervention aims to allow students to admit themselves into medical care without disciplinary reproach in order to prioritize student’s health. However, Ford said that he does not feel that the program is wholly effective, since the school notifies the parents of students on Crisis Intervention. “Students don’t use it as much as they should. Sometimes students even feel that if they use Crisis, it’s almost as bad as being busted,” said Ford. Choate requires that its students follow its Honor Code, which consists of the school’s major rules. Choate highly values personal and academic honesty, and expects all its students to comply with certain policies regarding these standards. The school considers plagiarism and unauthorized aid and notes as academic dishonesty. Students must write out an honor pledge on all academic work. The pledge, as written in the handbook, states, “On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid.” Students may not lie to, harass, inflict verbal or physical abuse on, nor demean their peers without severe disciplinary response. Choate strongly prohibits the discrimination of others based on personal animosity or factors like race, gender or religion. The Student Handbook states, “Violation of either of these basic principles is grounds for Dismissal.” Choate meets all academic issues with a Judicial Committee. The outcomes for such infractions include probation, suspension and dismissal. The Dean of Students determines whether cases of personal integrity will be adjudicated with a committee based on the sensitivity of the violation. Choate operates on a one-strike policy for drug use. The handbook says, “Should a form dean require that a student be tested for any controlled substance and the test results are positive for drugs, the student is dismissed, whether the drug use occurred on or off campus.” Ford said, “I think it’s the right rule for us and that a lot of students feel like it’s the right thing to do.” Choate does not allow the use of tobacco, the consumption of alcohol and sexual intimacy. Violations of these rules may result in reproaches varying from restriction to dismissal. DEERFIELD Deerfield Academy operates on a system of sanctions and Disciplinary Committee hearings. For minor violations such as attendance, students acquire accountability points, also known as AP’s, that place the student on different levels of sanctions. Although tardiness and dress code violation only entail one accountability point, infringements such as missing an academy event or an academic obligation can demand up to four accountability points. These points are tallied over the course of a term, and once a student accumulates 12 to 16 AP’s, they are put on Level One Sanction, requiring their presence at designated study halls. If a student acquires 17 – 24 AP’s they are placed on Level Two Sanction, and 25 or more AP’s translates to a Level Three Sanction. Once a student reaches Level Three Sanction, disciplinary action may include the student’s placement on Disciplinary Probation. For major rule violations, such as drugs and alcohol use, the Disciplinary Process is put into effect. The Disciplinary Process can result in punishments including Dean’s Letter of Reprimand, Disciplinary Probation and Head of School’s Warning. A Dean’s Letter often precedes a meeting with the Disciplinary Committee, and is issued for minor breaches of conduct. To be put on Disciplinary Probation is often a more serious matter, and a student on Disciplinary Probation will be dismissed if the student violates another rule. Head of School’s Warning is an even more sever result, in which a student will be dismissed if a change in behavior does not immediately take place. In this situation, the Head of School will take into consideration the recommendation of the Discipline Committee. According to Deerfield Academy’s Student Handbook, Deerfield’s Disciplinary Committee “serve[s] a fact-finding function; [and] not [as] a court of law or judicial mechanism.” Instead, their Disciplinary Committee, which consists of four students and four faculty members, reiterates the rules to the student in offense, and the eight members of the committee vote on the resulting repercussions. After the Disciplinary Committee comes to a consensus, the issue is then taken to the Head of School, who has the final say. The consequences of major rule violations such as drugs and alcohol use usually result in suspensions that can last from three days to a week. Along with suspension comes the Disciplinary Probation status that lasts for two academic years. One of the only other exceptions is the sanctuary policy, which allows students to come ask for help from the health center or a faculty member on their own accord. Students who are dealing drugs serve as the only other exception to the drugs and alcohol rule. If a student is caught dealing drugs, the second-chance policy is not in effect and the student will be automatically dismissed. Toby Emerson, Dean of Students at Deerfield Academy, said, “Deerfield is more or less a second chance school, with the exception of certain cases such as drug dealing. The first time, the student will most likely be suspended or put on probation.” “Second offenses are tried before the disciplinary committee and result in the automatic dismissal of the student,” he continued. Similar to the Disciplinary Committee, the school implements the judgment of an Academic Honor Committee when issues of academic dishonesty arise. The Academic Honor Committee consists of the Academic Dean, the Class Dean, the teacher of the student, the Chair of the Department involved, the advisor of the student and two student committee members. For most cases, the Academic Honor Committee places the student on probationary status, and a secondary offense would prompt dismissal. Sexual behavior does not translate to disciplinary action at Deerfield, but if a student is caught having sexual intercourse, the school notifies the health center as well as the parents and house counselor of the student. According to Emerson, Deerfield students would like more flexibility regarding the parietal system, which states that co-ed visitation parietals require the room lights to be on, and the door to be propped open by a garbage can. Emerson said, “I think that Deerfield’s policies are relatively lenient, and most of the rules that we deem serious, such as probation or dismissal, are pretty similar to other prep schools.” Exeter Phillips Exeter Academy has a process that involves case hearings and Discipline Committees. The process begins when a faculty member either observes or has direct evidence of an offense. The faculty member then passes the information to the student’s adviser or to the Dean of Residential Life. The investigation then requires the reporting adult and the student provide a written, factual statement of the violation. Following a thorough examination of the case, the Dean of Students and the Chair of the Discipline Committee must come to a conclusion on the appropriate disciplinary response. The necessity for a Discipline Committee hearing then comes into consideration. Exeter differentiates discipline cases into two types, regular and major. Students do not attend regular case hearings, which are reserved for minor infractions. At the case hearings, a committee of nine members reviews each participant’s statements and records. The group then decides whether or not the student committed the act. The Discipline Committee then votes on the appropriate disciplinary action. Students usually receive three-week restrictions from this situation. This regulation requires that students check in to their dormitories or leave campus at an earlier time. With more severe cases, Exeter imposes four-week restrictions. Students submit reflective letters to the Discipline Committee at the end of their restriction. Cases fall under major offenses when there is a possibility of dismissal. Students must attend a Discipline Committee hearing to present their statement. The committee consists of eight voting faculty members and four non-voting students. Exeter’s student handbook states, “It is fundamental to the system that the faculty, not the administration, has the final authority in dealing with discipline cases.” The Discipline Committee asks for the student’s adviser and a friend to explain why the student should not be expelled from Exeter. The adviser presents a recommendation for action and the chair reads comments submitted by the student’s teachers. If the committee charges the student with the offense, it must decide on a fair disciplinary action. The motions start at Requirement to Withdraw and pass in sequentially decreasing order of severity. A student may be placed on probation as a result of the committee’s decision. Under probation, students undergo a 12-week period of consistent review. Exeter expects students with probation to behave satisfactorily. Daniel Morrissey, Dean of Students at Exeter, said, “I like our system. I’ve worked in schools with honor codes, but what I like about our system is that it reflects the Harkness philosophy. No one person can make a decision, just like at the Harkness table.” “The process reflects our culture,” said Morrissey. “In my opinion, if you have a process that doesn’t reflect your culture, it’s never going to work and the community won’t value its judgements,” he added. At the most extreme end of the disciplinary system, Exeter may require a student to withdraw from the Academy. Exeter has set standard expectations for all of its major regulations. Violations of these rules may result in required withdrawal from the school, even for the first offense. Exeter places respect for others and academic honesty as their two primary expectations. In accordance with these rules, the school requires students to refrain from hazing and plagiarism. Students who commit these infractions must go under disciplinary review. Exeter also prohibits students from possessing, selling or using drugs and alcohol and leaving the school campus without authorization. These violations consistently result in probations for the involved students, but can result in lesser and higher degrees. Students who witness but are not actively involved in these situations may still receive disciplinary actions.