Before a student can be expelled from a public school, a formal expulsion hearing must be held.
During an expulsion hearing, the student has the right to:
- Receive notice of the specific rules they are charged with breaking
- Explain their side of the story
- Present evidence and call witnesses to testify on their behalf
- Be represented by a lawyer
If the expulsion hearing decision is for your child to be expelled, as a parent, you will generally have the right to appeal the expulsion to the board of education and/or the school district. If the expulsion is sustained on appeal, you can file a wrongful expulsion lawsuit asking the court to overturn the decision. If the school violated procedures, policies, or laws, the judge may overrule the expulsion and send your child back to school.
How do you win an expulsion hearing?
While there are avenues for appeal, the best outcome for a potential expulsion is to win at the expulsion hearing. Here are a few tips for reducing the likelihood of your child being expelled after a hearing.
Review the Notice
Before an expulsion hearing is held, the school is required to send a written notice of the hearing. The notice should detail:
- The particular rules that the school thinks your child violated
- The actions your child took that the school believes violated the rules
- The date, time, and location of the hearing
- Information on how to find an education lawyer to represent your child
Prepare for the Hearing
You have the legal right to obtain certain documents from the school before the hearing. Once you receive notice of a hearing, you or your lawyer should submit a written request for copies of the following:
- Any document the school plans to present at the hearing
- A list of the witnesses that the school is going to call at the hearing
- Any written statements from teachers or student witnesses
- Any other school records that can be used for your child’s defense
Interview and Identify Witnesses
You or your lawyer should try to talk to any witnesses that the school plans to call at the hearing. Interviewing them ahead of time will allow you to discover what they intend to say so you can prepare for it.
You should also identify any potential witnesses you want to call in your child’s defense, including non-family member character witnesses. If a potential character witness can’t make it to the hearing, you can request that they write a letter for you to present as evidence at the hearing. You also have the right to request that school staff member witnesses be sent subpoenas requiring them to appear at the hearing and testify.
Develop a Strategy
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the hearing, you and your lawyer can use a variety of strategies to defend your child. For example, if you don’t believe that your child actually broke the rules, you can present evidence to show that your child is innocent.
If it’s inarguable that your child broke the rules, you can focus on trying to convince the school that a less severe penalty is more appropriate or reducing the length of the expulsion. An experienced education attorney can review the facts of your case and develop the best strategy to protect your child.
When should I contact an education lawyer?
Students who are up for expulsion have the legal right to be represented by an education attorney at the hearing. You should contact a lawyer as soon as you receive notice of the expulsion hearing or learn that your child might be expelled from school. The sooner you speak with an attorney, the more time your lawyer will have time to prepare your child’s case. Expulsions move very quickly, so time is of the essence in these types of cases.
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