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Student Conduct

Student Conduct

Rules Governing Conduct of Students

Students

Students

Commonwealth Institute expects its students to be familiar with, and observe, the ordinary rules governing conduct of mature and responsible adults. Detailed information with regard to student conduct is supplied in the Student Handbook and at orientation.

Dress Code

A funeral service is a conservative experience. Commonwealth Institute expects all students  to take pride in their personal appearances. Personal grooming and businesslike appearances are vital to each student’s success. For daily classes, business casual clothing that is in good taste is acceptable, as long as it does not cause a disruption in the educational environment. Hats and sunglasses are not permitted in the classroom. On days of field trips and guest speakers, students are expected to dress in the mode of contemporary funeral service practitioners: navy or black suits, white shirt or blouse, dark shoes and conservative ties, and avoid extreme hairstyles.

Student Behavior

Puropose

The Institute recognizes that students are both citizens and members of the academic community.  Upon enrolling at the Institute, each student assumes an obligation to conduct himself/herself in a manner compatible with Commonwealth’s function, missions and goals.  Students are expected to obey the penal and civil statues of local, state and federal government along with Commonwealth Institute’s policies, regulations, and administrative rules.

Adverse Behavior

Conduct which adversely affects the student’s suitability as a member of the academic community includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Harassment of student or employees of Commonwealth Institute whether it be sexual, racial, ethnic, or any other type.
  • Respect and maturity from each student enrolled at Commonwealth Institute is expected at all times.  Disruptions in the classroom or any place in the facilities will not be tolerated.  If such a disruption happens the student may be asked to leave the classroom or the campus and will be expected to do so immediately.
  • As a courtesy to other students please do not distract the class by entering late or leaving while class is in session.  If you leave class prior to its completion you will be considered absent.  Classes will not be interrupted except for legitimate emergency messages.
  • Theft, defacing, damaging or destruction of Commonwealth Institute property.  A student is held responsible for the breakage or destruction of classroom and/ or laboratory equipment they are responsible for.
  • Please do not sit on the writing surface of the desks, nor deface the desktops by writing on them.  Do not place your feet on any of the furniture.
  • Inability or unwillingness to work in harmony with other students, faculty, and administration.
  • Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, or other Commonwealth activities.
  • Forgery, alteration, or misuse of Commonwealth Institute documents, records, identification.
  • Theft, fraud, gambling, carrying weapons of any kind or explosives.
  • Physical abuse of any person at Commonwealth sponsored, controlled, or supervised activities.
  • Riotous behavior such as property destruction, disturbing the peace, or risking bodily injury to students or employees of Commonwealth Institute.
  • Disorderly conduct, conducting or expressing oneself in a loud or lewd manner, indecent or obscene conduct or expression on campus or at Commonwealth sponsored or controlled activities.
  • Failure to comply with directions of Commonwealth Institute officials acting in the performance of their duties (including uniformed security personnel).
  • Conspiring to participate in hazing.
  • Fireworks, firearms, ammunition, or weapons of any sort are prohibited on property and/or activities sponsored or controlled by Commonwealth Institute.
  • Conviction of a misdemeanor or felony which would jeopardize licensure as a funeral director and/or embalmer.
  • Failure to comply with OSHA and/or EPA rules and regulations.
  • Unauthorized solicitation and distribution of literature or products.  Students must get permission from the administration prior to posting any notices or distributions of literature or products.
  • Physical and/or verbal threats while on Commonwealth Property.
  • Academic dishonesty, including but not limited to:
    1. Looking on another student’s paper during a test or examination or communicating in any way with anyone other than the test administrator.
    2. Accepting or providing unauthorized assistance in the preparation of assignments or taking of any tests and examinations.
    3. Submitting as your own work essays, term papers, lab reports, or other projects which have been prepared by others.
    4. Plagiarizing (presenting as one’s own ideas, data and/or works of another)

A student charged with any of the aforementioned violations, and depending on the severity of the transgression, may by suspended by the President or Dean, pending a hearing on the charges as soon as is practical, when deemed in the best interest of Commonwealth Institute.

Alcohol and Drug Policy

  • The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of illegal drugs or controlled substance by Commonwealth Institute students on property, or as part of any Commonwealth Institute activities is strictly prohibited.
  • The unlawful possession, use, or distribution of alcohol by students on Commonwealth Institute property, or as part of any Commonwealth Institute activities is strictly prohibited.  Violation of this policy will result in suspension or expulsion from the Institute.
  • Institute standards do not allow alcoholic beverages, including empty alcohol containers, on campus.
  • Possession of drug-related paraphernalia is considered a violation of this policy.
  • Additionally, being under the influence of illicit drugs and/or alcohol is considered a violation of this policy.
  • Commonwealth Institute is recognized by Texas Health & Safety Code §481.134 as a Drug-Free Zone. Commonwealth Institute is also within 1000 yards of a public elementary school.
  • Commonwealth Institute recognizes its responsibility to maintain and support civil laws and therefore will cooperate fully with the law enforcement agencies by providing information and assisting in the prosecution of illegal use, possession, distribution and sale of illegal drugs.
  • May affect financial aid.

Summary of Possible Sanctions

  • Censure/Disciplinary Reprimand – Verbal warning or written notification to a student that he/she has violated an Institute rule or policy and that subsequent wrongful conduct will not be tolerated and may result in more severe disciplinary actions.
  • Restitution – Reimbursement for damages to or misappropriation of property and/or compensation for injury. This may take the form of appropriate service or other compensation.
  • Dismissal/Suspension – Termination of student status for an indefinite period. A Dismissed/suspended student may not re-enroll at Commonwealth Institute unless and until his or her readmission is specifically approved by the President. Readmission after dismissal may be granted only under exceptional circumstances.
  • Revocation of Degree – A student’s degree may be revoked if it was obtained by fraud. If a degree is revoked, the student is barred from returning to Commonwealth Institute.
  • Expulsion – A student may be dismissed from the Institute permanently. When a student is expelled from the Institute, the student may not re-apply for readmission.

Grievance Procedure (Right to Appeal)

The Institute has established a grievance procedure to be used by students of Commonwealth to ensure their right to due process.  This right to due process is administered without regard to race, creed, national origin, or sex.  The grievance must be submitted in writing to the Institute within 30 days of the event.  Failure to file any grievance within the specified time periods shall be deemed a waiver thereof.

The Dean or designee shall investigate the alleged grievance, and an attempt will be made to resolve the matter informally with the parties involved.

A member of the Institute’s administration (President or Dean of Academics) shall serve as the hearing officer and may resolve the matter of alleged violation through an informal hearing.  The legal rules of evidence do not apply at the informal hearing. Evidence that possesses probative value and is commonly accepted by reasonable people in the conduct of the affairs may be admitted.  The student is presumed innocent of the alleged violation unless the hearing officer is convinced by the evidence that the student is guilty of the violation. The hearing officer may impose one of more of the following penalties, if the student is found guilty of the alleged violation: suspension of eligibility for extracurricular activities, letter of warning, suspension for up to the remainder of the current quarter, restitution for damages, denial of degree, or permanent severance from Commonwealth Institute.

A student is entitled to appeal the decision of the Dean or hearing officer of the informal hearing to the President of Commonwealth Institute.  The President shall review the matter and render the final decision in a timely manner.

No reprisal of any kind will be taken by the Board, an administrator, or an employee of Commonwealth Institute against any person bringing a grievance under this procedure.

Any grievances unresolved by Commonwealth Institute may be forwarded to the Texas Workforce Commission, Proprietary Schools, 101 East 15th Street, Austin, TX 78778-0001, (512) 936-3100.

Emergency Procedures Manual

Bomb Threat Guidelines

Bombs can be constructed to look like anything and can be placed or delivered in any number of ways. The probability of finding a bomb that looks like the stereotypical bomb is almost nonexistent. The only common denominator that exits is that they are all designed and intended to explode.

A bomb threat is generally defined as a verbal threat to detonate an explosive or incendiary device to cause property damage or injuries, whether or not such a device actually exists.

There are two main reasons someone may call with a bomb threat:

  • The person knows of an explosive device that is in place, and wants to minimize injuries
  • The person wants to create an environment of panic/confusion or to interrupt normal office/building functions

The latter reason is the most frequently encountered, especially in school settings (and particularly when major exams are scheduled or projects due.) Unfortunately, there is often no way to tell which is the motivation of the caller until after a thorough inspections of the building is conducted. This means that there will always need to be a response to the threat by emergency services personnel (police, fire, and medical.)

What to do if a Bomb Threat is Received

Obtain as much information as possible using the

Bomb Threat Checklist

Evacuation Procedure
  • In Advance, Each Staff Member Should:
  • Understand the evacuation plan.
  • Know at least two ways out of the building from your regular workspace. 

When You Hear the Evacuation Alarm Or Are Verbally Told To Begin Evacuating The Building:

  1. Remain calm and do not use your cellular phone.
  2. Leave quickly.
  3. Try to make sure that all staff, students and visitors evacuate the area.
  4. As you exit, quickly check nearby classrooms, restrooms, copier rooms, storage rooms, etc.
  5. If requested, accompany and assist persons with disabilities who appear to need direction or assistance.
  6. Take with you:  essential personal items ONLY.  Do not attempt to take large or heavy objects.
  7. Shut all doors behind you as you go.  Closed doors can slow the spread of fire, smoke and water.
  8. Proceed as quickly as possible but in an orderly manner.  Do not push or shove.  Hold handrails when you are using stairs.
  9. Once out of the building, move away at least 100 feet from the structure or as instructed by Campus Security, Police or Fire Department officials.

Telephone Threat

  • Remain calm. Do not hang up! Listen carefully.
  • Try to keep the caller calm and talking so that you can gather more information. Write down all information (see Bomb Threat Checklist)!
  • Attempt to find out why the caller is upset.
  • Note any characteristics about the call and caller:
    • Time of the call
    • Age and sex of the caller
    • Emotional state
    • Background noises
    • Speech pattern, accent
  • Identify the type of threat and note any details offered:
    • When is the bomb going to explode?
    • What does it look like?
    • Where is the bomb located?
    • What kind of device is it?
  • Immediately after the call ends press *57 and follow the recorded instructions. Then notify Police (9-1-1) and supply them with the information obtained.

Written Threat

  • If the threat is received by mail, do not further handle the letter, envelope, or package.
  • If the threat is received by e-mail, save the entire e-mail message, including any attachments and print out a copy for police.
  • Call police at 9-1-1, and notify your supervisor.

Suspicious Parcel, Mail, Etc.

  • Letter and Parcel Bomb Recognition Clues:
    • foreign mail, air mail and special delivery
    • No return address
    • Restrictive markings such as “confidential,” “personal,” etc.
    • Excessive postage, multiple stamps
    • Excessive weight, rigid envelope
    • Lopsided or uneven envelope
    • Handwritten or poorly typed address
    • Protruding wires or tinfoil
    • Incorrect titles or titles with no name, misspelled words
    • Excessive securing material (i.e., tape, string)
    • Oily stains or residues
    • Mysterious delivery
    • Shows a city or state in the postmark that does not match the return address
  • Do not handle! Keep anyone from going near it.
  • Leave the area, notify your supervisor and call Police (9-1-1).
  • If an evacuation is warranted, activate the building fire alarm.
  • Evacuate the building by walking to the nearest exit and calmly direct others to do the same. Once outside, move to a clear area at least 100 feet from the affected building. Keep walkways and roads clear for emergency responders.
  • Do not re-enter the building until advised by emergency response personnel, even if the alarms have ceased.

General evacuation procedures

It is not always necessary to evacuate a building during an emergency, such as a power outage. The overall safety of the building must first be evaluated: lighting, hazardous materials, ventilation systems and other hazardous operations. If the building can be safely occupied, evacuation is not necessary.

If evacuation is ordered, follow these procedures:

  • Stay calm, do not rush, and do not panic.
  • Safely stop your work.
  • Gather your personal belongings if it is safe to do so; it may be hours before you are allowed back in the building.
  • If safe, close your office door and window, but do not lock them.
  • Proceed to the nearest exit.
  • Touch closed doors. Do not open them if they are hot.
  • Proceed to the designated Emergency Assembly Area (EAA).
  • Wait for instructions from emergency responders.
  • Do not re-enter the building or work area until you are instructed to do so by emergency responders.

Emergency Assembly Area (EAA):

  • Faculty, staff and students should assemble on the farthest southeast corner of the parking lot. 

Fires

If you discover a fire:

  • Remain calm.
  • Pull one of the fire alarms located in the corridors
  • Then call 9-1-1

Fire Evacuations

Exit all persons from the building immediately. ALL ALARMS SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. If you hear an alarm, it is MANDATORY that you exit the building. Evacuate the area, walking as quickly as possible, closing all doors (but do not lock them) as you exit so that the spread of the fire is slowed down. Check all doors for heat (top and bottom) with back of hand. If hot, do not open.

If you are caught in heavy smoke, drop to hands and knees and crawl; hold your breath as much as possible; breathe shallowly through your nose; and use a blouse, shirt, or jacket as filter. When all people have been evacuated, move to a designated evacuation area and wait for an “All Clear” from the proper authorities before returning to the building.

If your clothing catches on fire, DO NOT RUN. STOP, DROP, and ROLL.

Active Shooter / Violent Intruder

What Should You Do:

  1. If an active shooter is OUTSIDE YOUR BUILDING:
  2. Go to the closest room that can be locked.
  3. Once you are in a secure room, close and lock all the doors and windows.
  4. Turn off lights and get everyone in the room down on the floor so no one is visible from the outside.
  5. Have someone in the room call Police (9-1-1).
  6. When you are finished talking to the Dispatcher, put the phone on silent/vibrate so the dispatcher can call you back; answer only if you are sure it is safe to do so.
  7. Remain in place until the police give you instructions.
  8. An unknown voice may be the shooter trying to lure you from safety; do not respond to any voice commands unless you can verify it is a police officer.
  9. Tell the Dispatcher quietly what you know about the situation, where you are, how many people are with you, what you are wearing, if there are any injuries.

If an active shooter is INSIDE YOUR BUILDING:

Remain calm and follow the steps listed in #1 above.

  1. If you cannot find a secure room, look for an exit you can reach safely, moving away from the shooter.
  2. Do not carry anything so you can move quickly and not be mistaken for the shooter.
  3. Keep your hands visible for police and do exactly what they tell you to do.
  4. Do NOT stop to help any injured victims or try to remove them.  Leave them where they are and notify police or emergency responders of their location once you have reached a safe location.
  5. Do not leave the area until you have been cleared to do so by the police.

If an active shooter ENTERS YOUR OFFICE OR CLASSROOM:

  1. If possible call the Police emergency line  (9-1-1).
  2. If you cannot speak, leave the line open so the dispatcher can hear what is going on.
  3. If the shooter is giving commands do not resist.  Remain calm and comply.
  4. If there is no opportunity for escape or concealment, a possibility to negotiate may exist.
  5. An attempt to overpower the shooter may also exist.
  6. ATTEMPTS TO NEGOTIATE OR OVERPOWER THE SHOOTER MAY RISK YOUR LIFE OR THE LIVES OF OTHERS.  THIS DECISION WILL BE MADE QUICKLY BASED ON WHAT GIVES YOU THE BEST CHANCE AT SURVIVAL.

 If you are taken hostage:

  • Remain calm, be patient and avoid drastic action.
  • Follow the hostage takers instructions. Do not speak unless spoken to. Avoid arguments.
  • Stay alert and be observant. You may be released or be able to escape. The personal safety of others may depend on your memory.

What Might Happen

  1. Police will respond IMMEDIATELY to the scene.
  2. The first officers on the scene may enter the building to locate the suspect.  Police officers are trained to respond directly to the area where shots were last heard.  Their purpose is to stop the shooting as quickly as possible.
  3. Police officers may be dressed in regular patrol uniforms , or may be wearing tactical uniforms consisting of external bulletproof vests, helmets, boots and dark clothing.
  4. Police officers may be carrying a shield and be armed with rifles, shotguns, and/or handguns.  They may also use teargas or pepper spray.
  5. Regardless of how they appear, remain as calm as possible.  Do not be afraid of officers and follow their instructions carefully.
  6. Put down anything you are carrying and keep your hands visible to the police at all times.
  7. The first officers to arrive will not stop to aid injured persons.  Rescue teams of other officers and medical personnel will follow the first officers into secured areas to treat and remove injured persons.
  8. Continue to follow instructions of police and emergency responders until you are released.
  9. If you are not in the vicinity of the shooting, and are outside, seek shelter in the nearest building and wait for the “all clear” signal.  Shooters may continue to move from building to building so remain indoors and alert to any threats.
  10. Once the incident is over and the threat is neutralized, an “all clear” will be issued by police.

Hurricane and Disaster Plans and Procedures

Due to the sometimes unpredictable and violent weather that often evolves in the Texas Gulf Coast region, situations may develop in which it is necessary to cancel classes or close the College completely in order to safeguard students and employees. If this need arises, the College will cancel classes following the same proceedings of Houston ISD public schools. Students are advised to stay informed.

If Houston ISD Public Schools announce class cancellations, Commonwealth Institute will cancel its classes as well.

Official Hurricane Season: June 1 to November 30.

Hurricanes are classified by wind strength known as the Saffir/Simpson Scale:

Saffir/Simpson Scale – Category Wind

I 74-95 mph
II 96-110 mph
III 111-130 mph
IV 131-155 mph
V 156 + mph

Severe Weather Terms in Common Use:

  • Hurricane Season – June 1 through November 30 is officially designated as hurricane season.
  • Advisory – A message released by the hurricane center, usually at 6-hour intervals, updating Information on the storm or hurricane, including watches and warnings whenever they are in effect. A special advisory is a message given any time there is a significant change in weather conditions or change in warnings previously released. An intermediate advisory updates information in advisories at 2 to 3-hour intervals, whenever a watch or warning is in effect.
  • Small Craft Warnings – When a hurricane or tropical storm threatens a coastal area, small craft are advised to remain in port and not to venture into the open sea.
  • Tropical Depression – A circulation at the surface of the water with a sustained wind speed of 38 mph or less.
  • Tropical Storm – Distinct circulation with sustained wind speeds of 39 to 73 mph.
  • Hurricane – A tropical cyclone that rotates counterclockwise with sustained winds of 74 mph or greater.
  • Tropical Storm Watch – The alert given when a tropical storm poses a threat to a certain coastal area within 36 hours.
  • Tropical Storm Warning – A tropical storm is expected to strike within 24 hrs. with sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph.
  • Hurricane Watch – The alert given when a hurricane poses a threat to a certain coastal area within 36 hrs.
  • Hurricane Warning – A hurricane is expected to strike within 24 hours with sustained winds of 74 mph or more accompanied by heavy rain and high waves.
  • Storm Surge – A rise in tide caused by a hurricane as It moves over or near the coastline. It can be much higher than the normal tidal rise, with breaking waves on top.

Hurricane Plans and Procedures

All decisions concerning hurricanes will be made by the President of CIFS . These decisions will be based upon the official notifications originating from the National Hurricane Center .

Procedures:

Before the Hurricane
In the case of an impending hurricane, the following actions will be taken:

Hurricane Watch:

1. At the announcement of the “Hurricane Watch”, by the National Hurricane Center , the administration will instruct all personnel to begin the immediate securing of their respective areas in preparation for the possibility of the “Watch” becoming a “Warning.”
2. All administrators will place themselves on a 24-hour watch concerning conditions and its effect on personnel and property.

Hurricane Warning:

1. At the announcement of a Hurricane “Warning,” the administration will immediately announce to the student body, the faculty, and the media of the closing of the College’s facilities until further notice.
2. Students can contact their professors for information regarding class cancellations and resumptions.

You can check the CIFS website at www.commonwealth.edu for additional information.

Important Personnel Information Regarding Hurricane Procedures:

Staff and Administrators Please Note: 

To be certain that the College Body has been alerted to all decisions mentioned in this manual, a sequence of information transmittal must be followed. This procedure will ensure that the most vital information has been appropriately propagated.

Hurricane Watch (additional personnel procedures):
In case of the worsening of the weather situation, all personnel are to secure their families and personal property first in the event that they may be needed on campus.

Hurricane Watch (additional personnel procedures):

1. After the announcement of a Hurricane “Warning” and the closing of the College facilities, the administration will inspect the entire campus and supervise any needed window boarding, taping, moving of computers, etc.
2. Staff should have by this time secured family and personal property.
3. With the assistance of the Maintenance Staff, the administration is to oversee that the following steps are followed:
A. Shut and lock all doors and windows.
B. Boarding, if necessary, is to be completed.
C. Ventilator fans or air conditioning units on rooftops are also covered.
D. All air conditioners are shut down.
E. Delicate equipment (computers, lab equipment, etc.) are covered, unplugged, and secured.
F. The President will see that each member of the College has secured his area, using the following procedures:
  • Each employee, being responsible for the safety of the various materials used and produced by him/her, will see that his/her desk is cleared and the materials are safely secured in desk drawers, or in the case of valuable papers, in safes, water/fire proof cabinets, etc.
  • Each employee will see that all file cabinets are locked, covered with plastic, and if possible, secured in place.
  • Each employee is responsible for unplugging their equipment from the wall including computers, printers, calculators, monitors, copiers, fax machines and any other equipment that may be damaged by electrical surges, storing backup floppy disk, CDs and tapes, water-proofing all equipment and files by securing them in whatever manner possible, or covering the same with plastic covering, etc.
  • Report to the President after completion of the above.

After the Hurricane

I. After securing their own family and personal property, the administration will inspect the campuses to ascertain damage.
II. The state of the campus will be determined.
III. The President will assess the weather situation to determine the time and conditions of the reopening of campus.
IV The administration will ensure that the Voicemail system and webpage is updated with the latest information concerning the reopening of the campus.

 

Main Campus

Commonwealth Institute
415 Barren Springs Drive
Houston, Texas 77090
Office Telephone: (281) 873-0262
Toll Free: (800) 628-1580
Fax: (281) 873-5232
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