Last Updated on July 26, 2022 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
What does a parent do when their child, a stellar wonderful student, gets a school suspension? Will this tarnish their education records and reputation forever? Attack the school suspension and try to get it overturned of course.
A student suspension is a permanent black mark in a school record, which will lurk in the background waiting to communicate negative information about the student. It can harm a student’s future prospects. Punishment is a big deal and school suspensions should be fought if possible.
Is There a Formal Suspension Appeal Process?
If there is a suspension appeal process in place in the school district, parents should follow that process. For example, there may be formal processes in Sacramento City Unified School District as well as Elk Grove Unified School District. Unfortunately, this is not the norm.
First Steps to Fight a School Suspension- If No Formal Process
A parent should immediately take action to fight a school suspension, if they want to challenge it. If there is no formal process, parents can still make their own process, to try to address the suspension.
Here are some steps which can be taken to try to address the suspension:
1) Meet with school officials to get the school’s version of what happened. Take thorough notes.
2) Do not question the student while in the school office. It is not a great idea for parents to question the student in front of school personnel about what happened. This parent questioning may give the school evidence to use against the student not only for the suspension, but for school expulsion. No one wants the student to accidentally confess new information the school did not already know which is turned against them.
3) Get a copy of the suspension form at the school meeting if possible. Sometimes schools will mail out the notice, but it is best to get a copy at the office.
4) Review the meeting notes and the suspension form thoroughly.
5) Meet with the student in private and get their version of what happened.
6) Compare the suspension form and what it says to what the student says to determine what may be accurate on the suspension form, and what is not.
7) Request the witness statements and other evidence of or related to the suspension. These are student records, and must be provided, although schools often will balk at requests for these (see Education Code 49069.7).
8) Review these.
Next Steps- Analysis and Final Meeting
9) Review the school policies on suspensions and the practices and procedures related to them. Find these in the school handbook or on the school or school district websites.
10) Figure out what is wrong with the suspension. Does it not meet school code? Should the student have received an alternate punishment prior to suspension? Even if the suspension is still appropriate, there can be other arguments to fight the school suspension.
For example, does the student have no prior discipline history? Do the stories of the witnesses conflict?
11) After a parent gets all arguments together, a written document should be drafted to the school outlining student support and arguments attacking the suspension. What the parent wants should also be stated, such as: the student returned to school now (if still out), and the school suspension rescinded (reversed) and expunged.
12) Forward to the school and request a meeting with someone who has the power to overturn the suspension, such as the principal.
13) Meet with the school and use good manners, firm evidence and positive arguments to get an agreement to get rid of the student suspension now, or at a date certain in the future, such as at the end of the current semester or school year.
14) Review the student records to ensure the suspension is not noted anywhere.
If parents attack a school suspension via taking prompt action, they can potentially get suspensions out of student records. Such a move can positively influence the student’s future for years to come.
Students need parents to fight for them and to get rid of any school suspension that appears in their records if possible. Do it!
Student suspension defense lawyer Michelle Ball fights student suspensions across California. As an education attorney in Sacramento, she can assist throughout the state in places such as Roseville, Auburn, Stockton, Yuba City, San Francisco, Vallejo, Los Angeles, Fresno and many other locations.