Last Updated on July 22, 2022 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
Have you ever wondered whether school suspensions actually matter? Yes they matter. Do they truly impact a student’s chances to be admitted to a college or university? Not so much anymore. Will a student be accepted regardless of an elementary or middle school suspension in their past? Hopefully.
School Suspensions Are Bad
I have seen parents post questions like “Is school suspension really bad?” or “Why is school suspension bad?”
Yes, school suspensions are bad. Suspensions result in a student stuck at home missing their education. They are also a permanent black mark in a student’s records if received in elementary, middle or high school.
Student discipline reflects on the character and conduct of the suspended student. Suspensions communicate that the student either ignored the rules or did not care about the rules. Even In House Suspensions (IHSS) may communicate that a student had “poor judgment.”
School Suspensions Stay In Student Education Records
Suspensions STAY in the student’s records throughout their lower educational years and can haunt them. That fight in sixth grade- it is still on the student’s records in twelfth grade, unless the school agrees to take it out via a suspension appeal and grants a request for expungement.
Suspensions may have been served long ago, but the record of the school suspension does not disappear, unfortunately.
Impact of Suspension Lurking in School Records?
How do suspensions impact students in high school and lower grades? Students with suspensions may be prejudged.
For example, school staff in may see a suspension in the student’s records and presume they are a bad student. A vice principal may see a past suspension for sexual harassment and refuse to try alternative punishments when the student receives another suspendable offense.
A student may be labelled a troublemaker and written up for things others may not be written up for in school. They may even be followed around school to see “what they are up to,” and write them up.
Do Colleges Factor Suspensions in When Reviewing Student Admission?
Suspensions pre-COVID mattered a lot when applying for college. During the 2020 upheaval in our country, college entrance began to morph, for the better for many students (see this article discussing college and student expulsions).
As of 2022, the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems no longer ask on their applications about suspensions or expulsions.
Not to be left behind, private colleges also post-COVID changed entrance requirements. The private college application no longer asks about discipline infractions. Before 2021, the smallest punishment would have to be revealed when applying to a private college.
Community colleges have never cared about past suspensions, and private trade schools may or may not care about past discipline.
There is no way to guarantee this new practice of not asking about past suspensions will continue. It could be that students entering college in 2024 may find that colleges once again ask about punishment. So, it may be best to avoid student suspensions, if possible.
It is possible a suspension can cause college rejection, but the best answer is “it depends.”
Student lawyer Michelle Ball helps college and other students across California. As a student rights attorney in Sacramento Michelle supports students around the state in places such as Fort Bragg, Santa Rosa, Solvang, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Roseville, Auburn, Tahoe, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Redwood City, and many other locations.