Last Updated on July 21, 2022 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
No parent likes to think about school expulsions or a student getting kicked out of school. But what if the very worst happens? What if a student expulsion from the school district actually occurs? Where will the student attend school?
Post-Expulsion School Attendance Rights
A student who is expelled under one of the Big 5 offenses, or any of the other bases for expulsion, is still entitled to an education. The expulsion order must provide the student with a new school they may attend. However, technically, the student may not attend a “regular” (aka comprehensive) school in the school district from which the student was expelled.
Per California Education Code 48915(d), a student who is expelled shall be referred to a program of study which meets the following conditions:
(1) Is appropriately prepared to accommodate pupils who exhibit discipline problems.
(2) Is not provided at a comprehensive middle, junior, or senior high school, or at any elementary school.
(3) Is not housed at the schoolsite attended by the pupil at the time of suspension.
Continuation School Placement
This law means that usually a student moves to a continuation school within the school district, or within the county. These are not schools most parents usually want a student to attend, but these schools do work for some students, in the right circumstances.
The reason continuation schools may be perceived as unsavory is, ironically, the fact that all the expelled (aka “bad”) students attend these schools. Most parents do not envision their children as one of “those bad kids” even after they are expelled.
Attendance at Designated School Not Usually Mandatory
Usually the student’s placement at the expulsion-assigned school is not mandatory (verify with the particular school district), so a parent may attempt to enroll the student in another school district, a charter school, a private school, or an online school.
Depending on the offense, sometimes an online school may be the only option, but other schools may be worth a shot as well.
Expulsion Must Be Revealed When Trying to Enroll
When applying to a private, charter or school outside the expelling school district, a parent must reveal that there is an expulsion in place. Parents can try to persuade the “better” school to admit the student even while the student is on expulsion. A letter explaining the situation, how it was flawed, etc. may be helpful.
Rather than take a shot at the student expulsion hearing, and risk a bad placement, parents should do everything they can to negotiate a better placement and outcome before a school expulsion issues.
Placement Exceptions May Be Made
It is not impossible to obtain a placement that may be different from the continuation school seemingly mandated in Education Code 48915(d).
Depending on the type of expellable student offense, and the student’s discipline history, a new placement at a comprehensive school may be negotiated. I have even seen some school districts return students to their home school on a suspended expulsion, although this is rare and will depend on the particular school district.
As such, it never hurts to ask that an expelled student not be placed at a continuation school, and instead, even while on expulsion, be allowed to move to a different comprehensive site within the school district. This is something that schools may negotiate with parents.
Michelle Ball is a student lawyer and advocate. As an attorney in Sacramento, she may help across California, in Roseville, Auburn, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Redding, and throughout California wherever students need her
[originally published July 5, 2011]