The Right To A Prompt College Discipline Hearing

Suspension hearing in college

Last Updated on September 7, 2022 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995

We all know that California state colleges can suspend students for wrongful conduct. Often students are allowed to continue attending classes while a discipline investigation continues. However, what if a college student is suspended immediately while the investigation is ongoing? What timelines apply? What if a student remains on campus?

college discipline hearing
University students can be suspended or expelled from college for various actions

Students May Be Suspended for Willful Disruption or Other Actions

California Education Code section 66017, addresses the timeline for a suspension or expulsion hearing, both when a student is kicked out of a university suddenly, or when the student is allowed to remain.

Section 66017 applies to California Community Colleges, California State Universities (CSU), or Universities of California (UC), and vaguely discusses that these entities have authority to suspend a student for willful disruption, to protect lives or property, or to ensure the maintenance of order. This is not the complete list of college discipline offenses, which will be outlined in the individual school’s policies.

No Hearing During Investigation

If a college student is just being investigated and is not suspended, they do not have a hearing right, yet.

If College Student Is Up For Suspension or Expulsion But Can Attend Classes

Student discipline hearing
Students have a right to a “prompt” hearing when being removed from a CA public college

Once the student is recommended for suspension or expulsion, they have a right to a “prompt hearing” per Section 66017. What is “prompt” is not defined.

If a public university or college student can keep attending classes while a suspension or expulsion recommendation is pending, there is no specific number of days listed in 66017 within which the hearing must be held (other than it must be “prompt”). College discipline hearing timelines typically vary depending on the university and their policies.

In the University of California system, there will be a process the student goes through, which is guided by the UC Regents, and also by the individual UC campus policies (for example, UC Davis may have different procedures than UCLA).

Ten Day Hearing Right if College Student Is Placed on Immediate Suspension

If a student takes a threatening or dangerous action which puts people or the college in immediate danger, or causes a substantial disruption, an interim (temporary) suspension may be imposed on the student, who then cannot return to their classes or the university campus. In this case, the student is kicked off campus immediately or within a short time, due to allegedly posing a threat of harm.

College suspension or expulsion hearing
Students can insist on a hearing within 10 days if they were suspended without a hearing first

In this situation, where a student is off campus on a suspension with no hearing preceding it, the student is legally entitled to a discipline hearing within 10 days of their suspension. per Section 66017.

College Staff Should Be Available to Deal With Discipline Hearings

Colleges must adopt procedures and appoint personnel to deal with discipline matters on campus.  These personnel may be found in an office like the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs at UC Davis, or other office created.

If Students Are Suspended Without a Prompt Hearing

If a student is already suspended from a California community college, California State University, or University of California, they can insist a hearing be held within 10 days if they did not get one already.  

Michelle Ball is a lawyer for students who assists with discipline, disability, discrimination, and other university legal issues. As an education attorney in Sacramento, she reaches across California to Chula Vista, Modesto, Tahoe, Placerville, Chico, Clearlake, Roseville and many other locations.

Originally published December 12, 2011