What happens if a school board does not follow its policy?

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Earlier I wrote about the HPS school closure policy and administrative regulations, Policy 3600 (2004). Then somebody asked, what happens if a school board does not follow its own policy?

Here’s one response from A Practical Guide to Connecticut School Law by Thomas B. Mooney (2012, 7th Edition). In Chapter 1 on Board Organization, Authority, and Responsibilities, section (b) Development of Policies, Mooney writes:

“if a board of education adopts a policy and its agents act contrary to it, such action will likely be considered per se unreasonable, with the result that school officials may be liable for negligence or even violation of constitutional rights. Aside from statutory requirements, boards of education are well-advised to develop policies to guide schools officials in the daily operation of the district. A board of education has a duty to be consistent in dealing with students and parents. To do otherwise would subject the board to constitutional claims, because people have the right to equal protection of the laws from governmental agencies, such as boards of education…A written policy can be invaluable in such situations to guide administrators and to inform parents as to what the rules are.” (p. 106)

I’m not a lawyer, but this seems pretty clear.


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Robert Cotto Jr.

Robert Cotto, Jr. is a Lecturer in the Educational Studies department. Before his work at Trinity, he was a Senior Policy Fellow in K-12 Education for CT Voices for Children where he published reports on Connecticut’s testing system, public school choice, and K-12 education data and policy. He taught for seven years as a social studies teacher at the Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies (MLC), an interdistrict magnet school intended to provide a high-quality education and promote racial, ethnic, and economic integration. Born and raised in Connecticut, Mr. Cotto was the first in his family to go to college and he earned his B.A. degree in sociology at Dartmouth College, his Ed.M. at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and an M.A. in American Studies at Trinity College. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in education policy at the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education. Robert lives with his wife and son in the Forster Heights area of the Southwest neighborhood in Hartford. Views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Trinity College.