After School Detention
To: School Administrators and Pupil Service Personnel
From: Carl Friedman
Subject: After School Detention
Date: March 1996
The purpose of this field memorandum is to answer two questions. Can a school district require students to stay after school for detention as a disciplinary measure? Can the student be required to stay after school when the student has other conflicting obligations, such as caring for siblings or working?
Unfortunately, neither the law nor regulations directly address the practice of detaining students after school as a method of discipline, nor are there any precedential decisions. Education Law 1709(2) provides the authority for boards of education to “establish such rules and regulations concerning the order and discipline of the schools.” Consequently, boards of education can maintain discipline in the schools by reasonable means. Requiring a student to serve detention at the end of a school day does not constitute an unreasonable disciplinary practice per se. However, if a parent objects to the imposition of after-school detention in a specific situation, the district should impose an alternative means of discipline, as there is no specific statutory authority for a school to detain a student after the end of a regular school day against the parents’ wishes.
As a final note, where a student is required to serve a period of after-school detention and the student ordinarily receives transportation, Education Law 3635 requires the district to transport the student home after the detention period.