Suspension & Expulsion in Schools
Suspension and expulsion are disciplinary measures that a school or school district may take against a student if prohibited actions or behaviors are committed. Every school district in the US is required to present and review a Code of Conduct that informs students and their families of general rules, disciplinary procedures, and the penalty that aligns with each action. It is the school administration’s responsibility to address student behavior issues in a responsible manner that follows state and federal guidelines.
Exceptional needs students or students with the accommodation of a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) are entitled to specific legal protections regarding behavior corrections. The child’s school, administration, and teacher(s) should all be aware of any accommodations, as well as understand the plan in place to address the need for additional behavior support.
A suspension temporarily removes a student from attending regular classes, school, or after-school activities. While previously understood that at-home suspensions would address students’ behavior problems, recent studies show that removing a child from the classroom does not address the root problem, nor solve negative behaviors. In fact, under new California state law, suspensions for willful defiance or disruptions are prohibited for any child in kindergarten through grade eight, and suspensions for other offenses, including supervised in-school suspensions, should be considered a last resort. Should a student be suspended for two or more consecutive days, the school is required to provide classwork.
Expulsion is the most serious action that a school can take against a student. In California, there is a due process in which the school, administrators, teachers, and support staff can play a key role, but expulsion can only be enforced by the action of the school district’s governing board after a hearing. Extensive support and corrective measures as well as detailed documentation is required before expulsion can even be recommended.
The California Department of Education has a system of strategies and supports in place to help school administrators and educators navigate a holistic approach to providing instructional, behavioral, and social interventions that should be exhausted before extreme action is taken.
Additional Rights for Students with Disabilities
Most school rules apply to students with disabilities just as they do to mainstream students. However, as noted above, students with an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or a Section 504 plan, among other services, have additional protections and procedures in place to help them be successful.
For example, a special education student cannot be suspended or removed from an existing educational placement for more than 10 consecutive or collective days without a manifestation determination meeting. A manifestation determination meeting reviews the student’s behavior and considers if the behavior leading to the suspension was a manifestation of the student’s disability or not.
If it is determined that the behavior was a manifestation of the student’s disability, the administration should then conduct a behavioral assessment and implement or modify a behavioral plan. If it is determined that the behavior was not a manifestation of the student’s disability, the administration can move forward with the expulsion. If the student’s parent or guardian disagrees with the outcome of a manifestation determination meeting, a due process hearing may be requested.
It should be noted that each student has different educational and behavioral needs, and there are many variables that go into developing accommodations, plans, and goals for students with exceptionalities. There are also many layers of law and legislation that may impact individual cases.
Here’s How We Can Help
The Law Offices of Jennifer Chang believe in protecting students’ rights under California laws, and she will fight vigorously on your family’s behalf. Jennifer Chang has offices in Los Angeles, Buena Park, and San Jose. Call (323) 931-5270 or complete this online form to discuss your case.