School Discipline that
removes a student from his public school for a period of time is called a “disciplinary exclusion.” A disciplinary exclusion lasting no more than ten days is
a suspension; any exclusion over ten days is an expulsion. Both may have serious consequences for
public school students.
Disciplinary exclusion deprives a student of access to coursework and may
impede his progress. For students already
struggling with a demanding curriculum, disciplinary exclusion may result in
Disciplinary exclusion becomes a part of a
student’s permanent record and, in some instances, is “reportable” – meaning
that a parent is required to tell any future school district about the
student’s previous discipline. Even
where the discipline is not “reportable,” college applications specifically ask
the student’s district about the disciplinary history of a student, and a
record of suspension or expulsion weighs against acceptance, limiting the
Disciplinary exclusion may end eligibility for sports and other extra-curricular activities.
Just as importantly, unjustly imposed disciplinary exclusion causes a child to
lose enthusiasm for education and lose
trust in his teachers and school.
The timeframe for action is short.
Once a school initiates disciplinary action, things move
quickly, leaving parents with only a few days to respond. Frequently, parents discover, after the fact,
that their child has been subject to interrogation, confronted by the police,
and charged based upon the “statements” of others whose identities are not revealed.
The student may have been pressured to write
a statement, through promises of leniency or other subterfuge. Parents may be asked to sign an agreement –
which is actually a waiver of their rights and an acknowledgement of the
accuracy of the charges – to ‘avoid a hearing’.
They may be asked to sign their agreement to a transfer to a
“disciplinary school” as the only available alternative. All of this may occur
within hours or days of the alleged violation of the school code.
advice and counsel of an experienced attorney is invaluable. The
earlier that parents receive legal guidance, the better the likely
outcome for their child.
TOP TEN THINGS PARENTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT EXPULSION
- If your child faces serious disciplinary
exclusion, it is important to act quickly to protect his future.
- The law imposes procedural requirements that school districts must follow. These procedures are
intended to ensure fairness. For certain
students – such as those eligible for special education – more stringent protections exist. Your lawyer will help you navigate these procedures to protect your rights.
- In order to be valid, written waivers must be
based on knowledge and clear understanding of the facts.
- Transfer to disciplinary school is not the only available alternative.
- School discipline charges frequently result in juvenile
justice charges. Statements or
admissions made to school authorities will be communicated to the police. Certain violations of the school code are
required to be reported to the police.
- Students and parents are entitled to lawyers and have the
right to communicate with the school district through legal counsel if they
- Students - and parents of students - facing expulsion are entitled to clear
notice of charges and access to all statements the district intends to use as evidence against them. They have the right to confront their accusers,
and cross-examine at hearing.
- Students have the right to remain silent and ask for parents
or counsel when confronted by school
authorities or the police.
- Representation by an experienced parents’ attorney
knowledgeable about disciplinary procedures is essential in cases of serious
discipline – to rescind unknowing waivers, to protect the student’s and
parent’s rights, to investigate and defend against charges at hearing, or
achieve a settlement which will avoid hearing and the most serious consequences
- The paramount interest is
to protect the student’s future.