At Andover, there are various levels of disciplinary actions. The lowest level of response to an infraction of school policy is a dean’s reprimand, which doesn’t require a disciplinary committee and is used to punish smaller violations such as small sign-in policy violations. The next level of discipline is a censure, which covers a range of violations, including, room-visiting infractions. The other levels of disciplinary action include warning, probation, suspension and dismissal, all of which require a disciplinary committee. Each cluster has its own disciplinary committee, and each committee is composed of the relevant cluster president, a DC representative, two faculty members, and the relevant cluster dean, said Paul Murphy, Dean of Students.
“I think our system is very personal; there is no centralized system where you are in [the committee] with people that you don’t know. Students that break rules that impact the safety of themselves or others are generally given consequences at a higher level than those offences that are not as strong and as worrisome,” said Murphy.
Drugs and alcohol are not allowed at Phillips Academy, and if a student is found giving alcohol or drugs to other students, he or she will likely be dismissed. Besides selling drugs or alcohol, serious harassment can lead a student to be dismissed, according to Murphy.
The Sanctuary Policy provides students with a means of accessing support in situations where alcohol or drugs are involved without disciplinary consequences.
Room searches are not very common at Andover, but the Blue Book does outline the Academy’s room search policies. During a room search, the student in question is usually present, as well as a cluster representative, the house counselor, and the cluster dean. The cluster representative can be the cluster president or another elected student, according to Murphy.
“If we have a very significant feeling that someone has drugs or alcohol in their room, as we’ve always said, we believe that all students should be able to live in a drug and alcohol free environment at this school. The presence of that in someone’s room is counter to that ideal for all students in that dormitory, and it’s not good for that student too. It’s an egregious violation of the school’s policies, and if there’s a lot there, it raises the question of whether that person is distributing to other people,” said Murphy.
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## Northfield Mount Hermon
Like Andover, NMH is as second chance school, and a student who violates a major rule for the first time will usually be placed on disciplinary probation. Students who violate a major rule must see a judicial board, which is composed of two students and two adults who all had to apply for the position. The student’s advisor first talks to the board without the student, in order for the board to understand a little bit about the student. The student sits through similar process with the entire board, and afterwards, the board recommends a suitable punishment to the Dean’s Office.
A student on disciplinary probation will first be suspended for three to five days and may be subjected to mandatory community service, counseling, or any other additional requirements deemed necessary upon return.
“We feel that it’s very important to hold our students accountable to the community, so this board is a representation of the community but with both adults and students on it. We view it also as education. They have to talk about why they did what they did and process it,” said Diane Arena, Associate Dean of Students.
This year, NMH instituted the Restorative Justice Piece, which allows a student who is placed on disciplinary probation to appeal to the board and potentially be removed from disciplinary probation if he or she does not commit another rule violation for the following 20 months. “What’s really nice about that is that yes, the kids still have to report it to college, but at least they then can also report to college that they have actually really grown from the experience,” said Arena.
In order to warrant a room search, the Dean’s Office needs a report that a student has drugs or alcohol in his or her room. A room could also be searched if there was theft in the dorm and the student was suspected of being involved. The student will be first told of the concerns before the room is actually searched.
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At Deerfield Academy (DA), the disciplinary committee is made up of three students and three faculty members. They are in charge of hearing cases and deciding the fate of a student who has violated a major school rule including, but not limited to, drug and alcohol use, cheating, stealing, or vandalism.
A typical response to on-campus drinking is a three-day suspension and probation. Probation at DA lasts for two calendar years unless the student petitions for a shorter probation. Much like at Andover, if a student commits another major school rule violation while on probation, he or she will likely be dismissed from school.
“Right now we are in the middle of an examination of our current process because it’s a little old and a bit brittle. One piece we’re focusing on is including more restorative practices post-mistake. Instead of saying, “OK, go do probation. Bide your time and don’t mess up again,” we want to take a kid, who let’s say is drinking, and have the kid go to a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Meeting or create some other ways to be active on probation,” said Amie Creagh, Dean of Students at Deerfield.
Room searches are rarely needed, and the two that were performed this year were related to theft.
“We would do room searches in a dorm if, for example, there’s ongoing theft, but room searches are very invasive and kind of the last resort. But if we see that theft is going on, we’ll get the group together and say, ‘The theft needs to stop. We’ll do a theft amnesty over the next two days and you can return any items that don’t belong to you.’ We’ll put a box out and if that doesn’t elicit a stopping of the theft we’d do room searches but we try to keep them as a last resort,” said Creagh.
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If a student is caught drinking at Middlesex, he or she would be suspended for four days and be placed on a six month probation. Aside from drinking, a number of offenses are punished with a pre-determined clear-cut disciplinary action.
If there is an open flame in any residence or a student has been driving under the influence, the students involved face immediate dismissal because of safety issues for the school, according to Carmen-Anita Beaton, Dean of Students at Middlesex.
A more nuanced disciplinary case calls for a hearing in front of the disciplinary committee, which is made up of four faculty members and three students. The Dean of Students also attends the meeting to hear the case. When the committee comes to a consensus, they make a recommendation to the Head of School, who generally accepts the recommendation of the committee.
“Any time that a student is disciplined for a drug or alcohol offense, his or her room is searched. We also would search a room if we have strong reason to believe that we should. In addition, we do random “health and safety checks” – room searches at various times during the year. The kids know that we do these not because we want to find contraband stuff, but because we want to help kids to make good choices,” said Beaton in an email to The Phillipian.
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Similar to Andover’s Sanctuary policy, Exeter allows students to turn themselves or a friend in to a faculty member for help regarding drugs and alcohol. This warrants a non-disciplinary response from the school, and students are instead placed in the Academy Student Assistance Program.
However, if an illegal drug is found during the mandatory room search following a student’s placement in the Academy Student Assistance Program, the school is required to report it to the police by the New Hampshire state law.
“It’s possible that the student could get in criminal trouble even though the student is not in trouble with the school,” Cosgrove said.
When students breach a major school rule at Exeter, they appear in front a disciplinary committee made up of eight faculty members and four students that were elected as representatives by the student body. Similar to Andover, Exeter is a second-chance school that generally puts students on probation rather than dismissing them after a first offense.
“We value a student’s experience at Exeter. I think a person can…be thought of as someone we want to have in our community, even if [he or she] makes a poor choice. This community recognizes that teenagers are going to struggle with their decision making and we didn’t think that all decisions deserve that kind of finality,” said Arthur Cosgrove, Dean of Residential Life at Exeter.
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Hotchkiss has a discipline committee procedure comprised of seven students, who are elected by the student body and seven faculty members, who are elected by the faculty. Similar to the Sanctuary Policy at Andover, Hotchkiss has a Health Center Policy. Students can report other students to a faculty member or they can voluntarily go to the Health Center and ask for help. Under the Health Center Policy, the student cannot be disciplined.
If a student is found by a faculty member using or possessing alcohol or drugs, however, they will be dismissed. This is the only violation that entails automatic dismissal from the school. Although there is a no chance policy for possessing, consumption, or dealing alcohol and drugs at Hotchkiss, for all other minor violations, Hotchkiss is a second chance system.
“I think we do recognizes that in some cases, being a teenager is about making mistakes, and there are a lot of different mistakes that are made that we tolerate. We expect a certain amount of growth, but tolerate the fact that mistakes are made,” said John Virden, Dean of Students and Associate Head of School.
“For those kids that might be on the fence between making a decision to use drugs or alcohol or to experiment with it, the no-chance system, I think acts as a deterrent for them,” he continued.
There is a room search policy at Hotchkiss, but it happens about less than once a year, according to Virden. Rooms can be searched if there has been theft in the dormitory, or if a student is suspected of holding drugs or alcohol in his or her room. “We tell the kids flat out that the rooms belong to the school. They can be searched at any time,” he said.
In the case of room searching, the dormitory head and Virden himself would take charge. In the case of a specific student’s room search, the student and the faculty advisor would be present. If the entire dorm were searched, other faculty members would also be present. If drugs or alcohol were found, the student would have to attend a disciplinary committee meeting, according to Virden.
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## St. Paul’s School
The result of all major disciplinary cases are read aloud at Chapel, St. Paul’s School’s (SPS) equivalent of All School Meeting, which meets four days a week. The Rector, who is SPS’ head of school, reads the name of the student, his or her violation, and the response from the school to that violation.
“When we talk about it with students early in the school year, we say it’s a means of drawing closure to the event. It becomes a form of support. The intention is not to shame kids. It’s to hold kids accountable, to welcome them back into the community and give them support,” said Chad Green, Dean of Students at SPS.
When a student breaks a major school rule, he or she comes before the Disciplinary Committee in a hearing. Eight faculty members, four Student Council members, and a faculty chair comprise the committee. In addition, the student can choose to have both another student council representative and an advocate who serves like a character witness. Statements written by the student and sometimes by a faculty member or the Dean’s office are then distributed. There is a period for questions and then student and the advocate leave so the committee can deliberate.
“It’s not done by consensus and there’s not really a vote. They just get to a place where they each have made recommendations. Then, the chair of the committee and myself meet with and bring that recommendation to the Rector. The Rector ultimately makes the final decision. I would say the vast majority of the time the Rector supports the decision made by the disciplinary committee but that’s not always the case,” said Green.
“Being a school where the Rector really has final say, if there’s a student that does something that just does not sit well with us like a student has been egregiously unkind to others or is doing harm to others, the Rector is not shy about just dismissing outright on the first go. We’re not tied in to always being a second-chance school. But I’d say for drugs and alcohol, that’s on some level fairly common adolescent behavior, and we don’t see it very prudent to be booting kids when we might actually be able to help them and they can grown from that experience,” continued Green.