School Expelled Students for Battery In Florida

Sections 6.05 and 6.23 of the student code provide as follows: Section 6.05. BATTERY: a student who intentionally strikes another person against the will of the other person or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person is guilty of a serious breach of conduct which shall be reported to the proper law enforcement agency and is punishable as follows: First Offense: Levels 4-8. Subsequent Offense: Level 8 Section 6.23 STUDENT CONFRONTATION WITH a SCHOOL BOARD EMPLOYEE: a student who strikes, pushes, pulls, shoves, fights, injures or engages in a violent confrontation involving a School Board employee as defined in Part II, Section 2.22, School Board Employee/Personnel/ Staff, is guilty of a serious breach of conduct punishable as follows: First Offense: Level 8 (expulsion) Section 230.23015, Florida Statutes (1997) provides as follows: 230.23015. Students violating s. 784.081; expulsion or placement in alternative school setting Notwithstanding any other provision of law, each district school board shall adopt rules providing that any student found to have committed a violation of s. 784.081(1), (2), or (3) shall be expelled or placed in an alternative school setting or other youth services or justice program, as appropriate. Upon being charged with the offense, the student shall be removed from the classroom immediately and placed in an alternative school setting pending disposition. Section 784.081 reclassifies assaults and batteries on specified public officials and includes an increased penalty with respect to a battery upon employees of school districts. The statute, as it pertains to this appeal, requires a finding that the offender knew or had reason to know the victim's official status. The superintendent and school board take the position that, although they must look to Florida Statutes for guidance in interpreting the code of student conduct and the discipline, they have an inherent right to promulgate rules such as sections 6.05 and 6.23 of the Code of Student Conduct. However, in its final order the school board expressly acknowledged that it adopted section 6.23 "in compliance with 230.23015, Fla. Stat. (1997)." While the school board has significant authority in matters not addressed specifically by the Legislature, it is prohibited from promulgating rules at variance with legislation. See Satan Fraternity v. Board of Pub. Instruction, 156 Fla. 222, 22 So. 2d 892 (Fla. 1945); Ferrara v. Hendry County Sch. Bd., 362 So. 2d 371 (Fla. 2d DCA 1978); Canney v. Board of Pub. Instruction, 231 So. 2d 34 (Fla. 1st DCA 1970). Section 230.03(1), Florida Statutes (1997), provides that "all actions of district school officials shall be consistent and in harmony with state laws and with rules and minimum standards of the state board and the commissioner."