Last Updated on March 31, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
What does a parent do when their child, a stellar wonderful student, gets a school suspension, which may 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. The suspension will come up on many college applications and can harm a student in their future prospects. Punishment is a big deal and school suspensions should be fought if possible.
First Steps to Fight a School Suspension- Gather Information
A parent should immediately take action to fight a school suspension when a student is suspended. [Note: if there is a formal suspension appeal process, these steps can still be followed in conjunction with the school suspension appeal steps]:
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 their child in front of school personnel about what happened. This parent questioning may give the school evidence to use against the child not only for the suspension, but for school expulsion, if the student confesses new information the school did not already know.
3) Get a copy of the suspension form at this meeting if not sooner. Sometimes schools don’t even provide a written suspension form (in breach of the law). If a parent does not have the suspension form, they should get it ASAP.
4) Review the meeting notes and the suspension form thoroughly.
5) Meet with the student in private and get his or her 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 Ed 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 (see my blog on this) 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 the support for the student 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. Kids need parents to fight for them and to get rid of any school suspension that appears in their records if possible. Do it!
Education Attorney for Students
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Please see my disclaimer. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting. This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship. This blog may not reflect the current state of the law.