What is a Suspension?
Suspension is a form of school discipline, removing a student from a particular class, or entire school, temporarily. The school may prohibit a student’s attendance from school grounds, a classroom, or place the student in a supervised classroom, separate from other students (“in-school” suspension).
When can a Student be Suspended?
A school can only suspend a student for behavior specifically outlined in the California Education Code. Unless the behavior is serious, violent, or dangerous to others, the school may only suspend after other interventions have failed. The school may only suspend for conduct related to a school activity or school attendance and cannot suspend a student for school absences or tardies.
What Suspension Procedures Must the School Follow?
Absent an emergency situation, before suspending a student, the school must hold a meeting between the student and the Principal or staff. During this meeting, they must tell the student why he/she is being suspended and share the evidence supporting a violation of school rules. The student also has a right to share his/her side and present any supporting evidence.
Upon a decision to suspend, the school must send a written notice of the decision to a student’s parent/guardian including the date when the student can return to school. The school may not suspend a student for more than 5 days in a row without implementing a “extension of suspension” meeting. At the “extension of suspension” meeting, the school will decide whether the student’s presence at the school would cause a danger to persons or property or a threat of disruption to the instructional process. If the student is deemed a danger or a threat, the school will move forward with the expulsion process.
What is an Expulsion?
Expulsion is a form of discipline which constitutes long-term removal from all traditional schools in the district.
When Can a Student be Expelled?
A school is required to expel a student in limited circumstances such as: possessing or selling firearms, threatening another person with a knife, selling a controlled substance, attempting or committing a sex assault, inflicting serious bodily injury, or possessing an explosive.
A school has discretion to expel a student for many other behaviors, however may expel only for those behaviors specifically outlined in the California Education Code. A school cannot expel a student for “willful defiance.”
What Expulsion Procedures Must the School Follow?
The school must set an expulsion hearing and provide written notice of the hearing at least 10 days prior. The hearing must take place within 30 school days of the proposed expulsion (unless the student requests an extension). Prior to the expulsion hearing, the school district must continue to offer the student an educational program. A student has a right to examine their student records and inspect evidence to be used against them. At the hearing, the student has a right to be represented by an attorney and may present evidence, witnesses, or arguments against the recommendation to expel.
What Happens to the Student Who is Expelled?
An expulsion can last from 6-12 months and requires the student to complete a
rehabilitation plan prior to re-admittance into the school. If a student is expelled from the school district, they cannot attend any regular school in that district during the expulsion period. The student may even be prevented from attending a regular school in another district if they are deemed a continuing risk of danger.
How Can You Advocate for Your Student Facing Suspension or Expulsion?
Deanna L. Lopas is an Attorney practicing criminal defense, juvenile delinquency, and education law in San Diego, CA. Deanna graduated from California State University Sacramento with honors before graduating with her J.D. from University of the Pacific (UOP), McGeorge School of Law. Deanna became a licensed attorney in 2007 and was hired that same year