Is There A Law Against Keeping Students After The Bell?
There is no law that prevents teachers from keeping students after the bell. However, there are laws against abuse! Teachers must allow a detained student to go to the bathroom when needed, and to get something to eat if they missed lunch. The general rule is that it’s their classroom, and they get to choose how long students should remain in there.
With that said, there are two particular areas of confusion that we need to clarify: the first is the roles and responsibilities of the teacher, and the second is the actual purpose of a school bell.
The Roles And Responsibilities Of The Teacher
Teachers are the de facto guardian of every student in the classroom. That means that their legal rights over their students are virtually identical to that of a parental figure. That means it’s well within their rights to ask students to stay after the bell.
But as we’ve said, teachers need to exercise this power with caution. If they take extreme measures to discipline the student, then parents can lodge a complaint and the teacher will be investigated. If proven guilty, they’ll be subject to suspension or termination!
The Purpose Of A School Bell
The bell is also a handy way to keep foot traffic in schools organised as it gives everyone a routine that they can follow so they won’t be late. With that said, the school bell is more of a suggestion than a command.
Most teachers keep the bell in mind to pace their lesson, but sometimes a lesson might run a little long and the class needs to stay behind for a few minutes. Unless the school regulations specify that pupils can’t be kept behind after the bell rings, the dismissal time is entirely up to the teacher.
Some Common Exceptions
According to Youth Law Australia, “Each school makes their own rules and sets reasonable punishments for breaking these rules”. The teacher is within their administrative right to hold students after the bell if it’s to the benefit of their education, or simply as a punishment for misbehaviour.
But that also comes with limits. According to the same ruling, “detention should not last so long that you don’t have time to eat your lunch or have a break from lessons”. So if you’ve ever wondered how long can a teacher keep you in at lunch, it should never be long enough that you can’t eat. Most teachers keep their students 10 to 20 minutes maximum.
Another big exception to this rule is the dismissal bell, especially if the student needs a pick-up to get home. For older students that may take public transport, they can also negotiate with their professors if staying behind is necessary.
While it’s definitely not illegal for a teacher to keep students in class after the bell, there are strict rules and regulations that govern the extent to which they can detain the student. Being a teacher can be tough, so some disciplinary measures are needed to ensure that each and every student gets the most out of their education.
But for the most part, a teacher will avoid keeping students behind without good reason. Remember, teachers also get to leave when the bell rings!