Last Updated on April 4, 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 damaging college entrance chances. 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.
1) Consider not letting the accused student testify
Make the school district prove their expulsion case. Don’t do it for them.
The school district has the burden of proof and no child is mandated to testify.
Whether a student testifies or not at their expulsion hearing is highly fact dependent and there is no black and white rule. It may depend on the level of proof the school has, whether the parents will appeal if the student is expelled, if the expulsion hearing will involve simply a “mercy plea,” and other factors. 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 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.
4) Do not forget to prepare opening and closing statements and witness questions.
Parents usually can make an opening and closing statement, plus question any and all witnesses at the student expulsion hearing. A good outline should be developed with all legal and factual arguments against school expulsion, as well as questions for anticipated witnesses.
5) Do not forget to submit documents
Parents should submit character letters in support of the student, along with any other documentary evidence which proves innocence. Parents may also want to consider submitting a document which persuasively argues the student’s expulsion defenses.
6) 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.
7) Do not forget the district is not being “nice”
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.
8) Don’t forget to bring witnesses to support 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.
Expulsion and suspension 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 Michelle Ball, expulsion and suspension attorney for students.
originally published 2/5/12
Education Attorney for Students
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Please see my disclaimer. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting. This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship. This blog may not reflect the current state of the law.