Last Updated on July 25, 2022 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
Ever wondered everything a student can be suspended or expelled for in California public schools (see Cal Education Codes 48900-48915)?
Here is a complete list of the reasons a public elementary, junior high or high school can legally expel or suspend students for, per state code.
Suspension or Expulsion for Fighting and Physical Harm
Schools can expel or suspend students for fighting, aka mutual combat or violence, including:
Caused or attempted to cause physical injury
Willfully used force or violence upon the person of another
Assault or battery on a school employee
Aiding or abetting physical injury (but no expulsion)
Suspension or Expulsion for Weapons
Schools can expel or suspend students for weapons:
Brandishing a knife
Possessed an imitation firearm
Suspension or Expulsion for Controlled Substances (drugs, alcohol, intoxicants)
Schools can expel or suspend students for drugs, alcohol, marijuana/pot, and even fake drugs or alcohol.
Possessed, used, sold or furnished a controlled substance, alcoholic beverage or intoxicant, including marijuana and prescription medication
Offered, arranged, or negotiated to sell a controlled substance, alcoholic beverage or intoxicant and sold, delivered or furnished something and represented it as a controlled substance, alcoholic beverage or intoxicant
Unlawfully offered, arranged to sell, negotiated to sell, or sold the prescription drug Soma.
Suspension or Expulsion for Drug Paraphernalia
Schools finding drug paraphernalia can expel or suspend students:
Unlawfully possessed, offered, negotiated to sell or sold drug paraphernalia
Suspension or Expulsion for Tobacco
Schools can even expel or suspend for tobacco:
Possessed or used tobacco or products containing tobacco or nicotine products, including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, miniature cigars, clove cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, snuff, chew packets, and betel
Suspension or Expulsion for Theft/Property
Property crimes, such as stealing or involvement with stolen property, can end in schools expelling or suspending a student:
Committed or attempted to commit a robbery
Stole or attempted to steal school or private property
Knowingly received stolen school property or private property.
Caused or attempted to cause damage to school property or private property
Committed or attempted to commit extortion
Suspension or Expulsion for Sexual or Obscene Conduct
Students may be expelled or suspended for sexual wrongs:
Committed an obscene act
Commiting or attempting to commit a sexual assault
Sexual harassment (fourth grade and up only)
Engaged in habitual profanity or vulgarity
Suspension or Expulsion for Bullying/Harassment
Being expelled or suspended for bullying is not uncommon:
Caused, attempted, threatened to cause or participated in Hate Violence (grades 4-12 only)
Suspension or Expulsion for Threats
Schools may expel or suspend for threats or threatening language:
Harassment, threats, or intimidation, directed against school district personnel or pupils
Severe harassment, threats, intimidation which materially disrupts classwork, creates substantial disorder, invades rights by creating hostile environment
Can Schools Expel For Disruption or Defiance?
Disrupted school activities (suspension only if in grades 9th-12th, and no expulsion)
Willfully defied the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials, or other school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties (suspension only if in 9th-12th, and no expulsion)
If Its Not in the Law Schools Cannot Expel For It
Above is everything listed in Education Code sections 48900-48915. If an offense is not listed there, a student cannot be suspended or expelled for it.
Sometimes school administrators think they can suspend or expel for whatever they want, or can squeeze a matter into a legal category that does not fit. Innocent students are punished. I have fought suspensions for things not in the law before.
If a student is up for punishment and it does not fit in the Education Code parameters, parents may be able to challenge a school expulsion or suspension on that basis alone.
Attorney Michelle Ball helps families fight suspensions and expulsions throughout California. With her office in Sacramento, education lawyer Michelle Ball can represent students in all California cities, including Roseville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Bernardino, Anaheim, Folsom, Stockton, Marysville, Elk Grove, Santa Rosa, Hanford, Santa Ana, and many other locations.