What is a school suspension?
A suspension generally means a student will be unable to attend school for up to five days. The parent must be notified, and the student and parent should meet with the principal before the suspension to explain their side of the story. Before the student is suspended, the school should offer the student services as an alternative way to address any behavioral issues. This can include restorative circles and referrals to counseling or anger management.
Do not give written statements and don’t sign stipulated agreements!
What is an expulsion?
An expulsion means a student is not allowed to attend school. If a school wants to expel a student, that student has a right to a hearing and to bring a lawyer to represent them.
Being expelled is serious because it means you cannot attend a regular school.
What are my rights at the expulsion hearing?
If you are recommended for expulsion, you must receive a fair hearing before you are expelled. Students have a number of rights including a right to notice of the hearing, the right to bring an attorney or other advocate to the hearing, the right to look at the school’s evidence, and a right to present evidence. ACLU provides a comprehensive Fact Sheet on student’s school rights during suspensions, expulsions, and involuntary transfers.
Can I be suspended or expelled for just any reason?
No! You must have committed a specific act at school, at a school-sponsored event, or on your way to/from school. The most common grounds are:
– Possessing, using, or selling dangerous objects, e.g. guns, knives, or fireworks
– Possessing, using, selling, or attempting to sell alcohol, drugs, or any drug-related items
– Stealing or attempting to steal the school’s or another person’s property
– Causing, attempting, or threatening physical harm, except in self-defense
Here is more information on suspensions and expulsions.
You cannot be suspended for being late or absent from school!
How can LSC help you?
Expulsions are very serious. If you want a lawyer and live in the San Francisco Bay Area, LSC may be able to represent you at your hearing or help you find a free lawyer or advocate. Call LSC’s Warmline at (415) 780-6366 to find out for more information.
If you live outside of the SF Bay Area, LSC may not be able to represent you in a school discipline case. Here is a list of other organizations and services.
Children’s Rights in School
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page that includes information on enrollment for undocumented children and foster youth, how to access school records, inter-district transfers, and filing complaints against your school for discrimination.
For more information, the ACLU provides detailed information on students’ rights at school (www.myschoolmyrights.com).
I think my child requires special education services, where can I get help?
Disabilities Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) provides information on determining eligibility for special education services and how to request a special education assessment. Also, if you want more information on your child’s rights for special education if they are being recommended for expulsion, check out our Special Education Advocacy page.
If you live in the Bay Area and your child is being recommended for expulsion, LSC may be able to represent your child. If we can not provide your child with a lawyer, here is a list of other organizations that can provide legal advice or connect you with a low-cost lawyer in your area.
If you believe you have experienced discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying based on disability, gender, nationality, race/ethnicity, religion, and/or sexual orientation, you can file a complaint against the school district. You can also file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. Here is more information on how to file these complaints.
What can I do to improve things in my school district?
Fix School Discipline is a resource for parents, students, and community organizations interested in learning about how to get rid of harsh school discipline practices. Their website has the latest data and news about the negative impacts that suspensions and expulsions have on students and school climate. You can also find tools to help you implement or advocate for supportive discipline policies that promote students’ accountability and overall safety.
Dignity in Schools is a resource for parents and youth interested in joining youth-led and parent-led campaigns to end school pushout.
For information and resources on restorative justice process and practices: Introducing Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth