If your child is suspended from school, the following suggestions will help you protect his/her rights:
1. Get the Facts
First, talk to your child to determine exactly what happened and hear his/her side of the story. Next, contact your child’s school and request all school records regarding the charges and incident. Review the school district’s disciplinary policies and procedures and the applicable laws. Parents should be notified within twenty-four hours of a suspension. Prior to imposing a suspension, school administrators must inform the student of the reasons for the disciplinary action and give him/her an opportunity to explain the situation (referred to as an informal hearing). Unless an emergency exists, this informal hearing must be held before the suspension is imposed. In determining the length of any suspension, the administration may consider evidence of past disciplinary problems, such as removal, suspension, or expulsion.
2. Meet with School Officials
Call the principal or assistant principal who imposed the suspension and request a face-to-face meeting (referred to as an informal hearing). Schedule this face-to-face meeting before your child serves his/her suspension or as soon as possible. Advocate for your child by learning the school’s facts about the incident; explaining your child’s side of the situation; exploring dismissal of the action and/or alternative punishments; and inquiring about any opportunities or services that may help your child, such as counseling or other types of social, educational, or health services. Make sure your child does not fall behind. Remember, your child has the right to make up any assignments he/she misses during a period of suspension, including examinations.
3. Know Your Rights If Your Child is a Special Education Student
Special education students have very specific rights and protections regarding suspension and expulsion. Your child may be entitled to a Manifestation Determination before suspension or expulsion. Students have the right to due process before being suspended for more than ten (10) days or expelled. Children with special needs are entitled to educational services, if they are suspended or expelled.
4. Seek Assistance from an Experienced Education Attorney
If your child is facing suspension or expulsion, you should seek assistance from an experienced education attorney before your child serves the suspension or as soon as possible. An education attorney will explore dismissal of the action; request that the school assign alternative punishments; ensure accurate educational records; appeal and/or request reconsideration of the suspension decision, if appropriate; request and identify other services in the school or community to help your child, such as counseling, testing for learning disabilities, and tutoring; and prevent discrimination against your child.