Eight Things To Avoid At Student Expulsion Hearings

Students being expelled need help

Last Updated on September 9, 2022 by Michelle Ball

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

School expulsions can be devastating for students, emotionally and otherwise, ending up with students sent to a continuation school and impacting future educational decisions.  It is important to know what NOT to do when parents are fighting for their child’s future at an expulsion hearing.  

Here are some things parents should NOT do at a school expulsion hearing.

Student expulsion from school
Students may or may not want to testify at their expulsion hearing, depending on the facts.

1) Avoid Making the School’s Case For Them Via a Confession

Make the school district prove their expulsion case. Don’t do it for them. 

The school district has the burden of proof at an expulsion hearing and no student can be forced to testify. 

Whether a student testifies or not at their own expulsion hearing is highly fact dependent. There is no black and white rule. 

This is a significant decision and may depend on the level of proof the school has, whether the parents will appeal any expulsion, if the expulsion hearing will involve simply a “mercy plea,” if there is a confession, and other factors.  Strong caution is advised in making this decision.

2)  Do not Forget to Object to Improper Evidence  

If the school district attempts to admit evidence which should not be allowed into the expulsion hearing (e.g. evidence from another student who was not there), parents must not stay silent.  Rather, parents should speak up and ask for it to be disallowed, or if the item was already admitted into evidence, object to it.

3)  Do not Get Overly Emotional at the Hearing if Possible 

If a parent is the one making the arguments at the expulsion hearing, he or she should attempt to keep strong emotions under control, particularly anger.  Parents don’t want to alienate whomever is judging the student’s expulsion matter.

Logic and reason along with persuasion should be used to defend the student.  Parents should never yell or raise voices, regardless of the frustration level at the school expulsion hearing.

expulsion hearing paperwork 1
Preparation for a student expulsion hearing is important

4)  Do not Forget to Submit All Necessary Documents

Parents usually can submit documents before or at the hearing and may have other documentary submissions.

It is critical that all documents be submitted, are well written, thorough and easy to digest for the expulsion panel.

5)  Do Not Take it Personally 

The school expulsion hearing may feel personal, but don’t take it that way.  Act professionally at all times or the student review panel may tune you out.

6)  Do not Forget the District is Not Being “Nice”

Expulsion hearings are serious matters where the fate of the student is determined for up to a calendar year

 Although everyone on the school’s side may be outwardly polite, the school and district are trying to expel the student.  If they were not, they would have dropped or negotiated the expulsion matter before the hearing.  

Parents cannot go into an expulsion hearing naively believing that everyone will understand once they get there, or they will win due to sympathy for the student.

This is expulsion “business” and the student will be expelled, even by smiling friendly school district personnel, if the parent cannot persuade them otherwise.  

7)  Don’t Forget to Bring Witnesses for the Student’s Expulsion Defense 

Parents should bring students or others to the expulsion hearing to support the student’s defense via live testimony. If parents cannot get a hold of expulsion hearing witnesses, subpoenas can be sought from the district prior to the hearing.

Parents need a little luck and good management skills when battling the lions trying to expel a student.  If not, a school expulsion can leave an expelled child adrift and with a black mark the student may never get over.

8) Don’t Neglect Preparation

As with all things in life, preparation before the expulsion hearing is vital. Knowledge of the expulsion system and rules is imperative for anyone entering the school expulsion gauntlet and can make the difference between no expulsion and the worst possible expulsion being issued.

Student lawyer Michelle Ball helps with all aspects of student discipline. Parents in Lodi, Stockton, Tahoe, Oakland, Redwood City, Elk Grove, Roseville, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and may other towns may consult with attorney Michelle Ball and seek advice in difficult school situations.

originally published 2/5/12