For the high school and college students, the bell at the end of a lesson has always been a symbol of freedom. With a sense of relief, students realize that another endless lecture or a stressful test is over, and they can enjoy the hard-earned short break. It’s not surprising that after the bell rings, they aim to grab their books and head towards the door with the speed of lightning. However, for teachers (luckily, only some, not all of them!), the school bell doesn’t always seem to mean what it’s supposed to. For an inscrutable reason, they expect the class to stay put at their seats and keep listening to them as if the lesson has lengthened itself and is not going to end. And when some ‘braveheart’ dares to remind that it’s time to leave, the teacher may stare at them with a stern look and proclaim: “The bell doesn’t dismiss you, I do!”

Does this situation sound familiar to you? Have you ever encountered the same? Maybe you were left after the class as a result of your behavior? If so, you definitely are not alone. It’s safe to say that at some point, most of the students have been held back after the class along with their whole group. Some were told to stay individually. Just as your peers, you may wonder, “Is it really acceptable for the teachers to keep students after the school bell has rung?” The majority of young people are certain that the teachers can’t dictate the rules and encroach on their free time, but what if they are mistaken? In this article, we’ll get to the truth, and will find out if it’s illegal for the teachers to keep students after the bell.

Is it illegal to hold students after the bell: Students’ behavior and its consequences

Usually, teachers may ask the students to stay after the bell for one of these reasons:

  • A teacher lacked a few minutes to clarify an important home assignment.
  • One, several or all students were disrupting the lesson and prevented the teacher from explaining the material.
  • Someone left a mess at their working place, and a teacher wants them to clean.

Whichever the reason, the actions of a teacher don’t contradict with common sense and don’t cross any boundaries. Generally, students can be held only 1 to 5 minutes late, so that they don’ t run the risk of missing their bus, lunch, a sports section, etc.

On the contrary, a student who disobeys and refuses to stay after the class (especially if it happens repetitively) is supposed to insubordinate which may involve school penalties, including being suspended to the office or home, writing up an official case statement, etc.

Is it illegal to keep students after the bell for punishment?

The answer to the above question is “No”. A teacher who holds the students after the end of a lesson doesn’t really break any laws. To be considered “illegal”, his actions should refer to a forcible restraint of some kind. But as we know, no teacher has ever arrested a student for leaving a class or talking loud. Their request to stay for an extra 10 minutes is in no way a preventive punishment, but an attempt to discipline someone who has misbehaved.

Of course, the norms of behavior of teachers and students may depend upon a state or a particular school one attends. You should check the administrative regulations or school board of whatever school you are at. But in most cases, schools and colleges operate under the doctrine called “in loco parentis” which literally means “in place of the parents”. This gives them greater leeway in the maintenance of good discipline and order than many other government actors.

Is it illegal to keep students after class: Does the Geneva Convention law really forbid it?

If you look online for the answer to the question “Can teachers keep students after a class?” you’ll find numerous blog posts, comments and twits the authors of which refer to Article 33 on collective punishments of the Fourth Geneva Convention that allegedly forbids keeping students after a lesson is over. However, any trained lawyer will tell that this law is about “protecting the rights of civilians in case of occupation or armed conflict”. Hence, from the text of this particular Geneva Convention law school bell, as well as any school rules, have nothing to do either with “collective penalties”, or with “measures of intimidation to the civilians”. The bell can’t be considered a mark after which further actions and decisions of a teacher become illegal. That’s why, unless your teacher keeps a student or the whole class after the final bell, say, till 9 pm every day, for a month they are not crossing any line.