Last Updated on February 14, 2023 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
When a school expulsion is looming, any winning argument can save the day. If a law is breached, a door may open to attack a student expulsion based on the hearing process itself.
California law outlines what must be included in an expulsion hearing notice. What IS or IS NOT contained in the notice can be valuable when trying to challenge an expulsion, particularly if the notice is defective.
What Does the Expulsion Hearing Notice HAVE TO Contain?
State code specifies what school expulsion hearing notices must include.
Per Education Code Section 48918(b), the following items (summarized here) must be in the expulsion hearing notice:
- The date of the student’s expulsion hearing
- The location of the expulsion hearing
- The specific facts which the student’s expulsion recommendation is based on.
- The specific charges (e.g. the education code sections)
- A copy of the disciplinary rules that relate to the allegation(s) against the student
- Parent’s notification obligations to other school districts
- The student and parents or guardians may attend the expulsion hearing in person.
- An attorney or non-attorney advisor may represent the student
- All documents to be used at the student’s hearing may be inspected
- Copies of the hearing documents can be obtained
- All witnesses who testify at the expulsion hearing may be confronted and questioned
- Evidence can be challenged
- Oral or documentary evidence for the student may be submitted
- The student may present witnesses at the expulsion hearing
- Rights related to witnesses, if a sexual battery is alleged
Those are quite a few notifications and not every school district sends hearing notices with all mandated information included.
What if the Hearing Notice Does Not Contain All Required Notifications?
If the expulsion hearing letter does not contain all mandated information, parents may have an opening to fight the expulsion, based on a breach of the student’s notification rights.
A parent could then attend the expulsion hearing and argue that the hearing is procedurally defective, as the hearing notice did not contain all mandated items. For example, did the notice not contain the relevant policies, the exact codes allegedly breached, the facts supporting the expulsion or otherwise?
How Serious Is the Breach?
Whether this type of procedural argument works in an expulsion matter, may depend on how bad the breach is.
For example, if there is no address for the expulsion hearing, this is a significant breach which can cause a parent not to be able to attend the hearing.
However, if the hearing does not concern an alleged sexual battery, failing to include a notice on sexual battery witnesses may not be as serious.
Regardless, a defect is a defect and procedural irregularities can be argued if they exist.
What may win the day depends on the facts in the specific student’s situation, and how badly the expulsion hearing notice is written.
Expulsion Appeals Based on Defective Notice
If a student is expelled, and the hearing notice was defective, there may be an appeal argument surrounding this faulty hearing notice. When appealing to a county board of education in California, winning procedural arguments may cause a full reversal of an expulsion hearing, or a rehearing, if successful.
Parents need to be aware of these mandatory requirements, and make sure the student’s hearing notice was legally proper. If not, pursuit of an appeal, depending on how egregious the breach was, could be in order.
Lawyer Michelle Ball has helped students through expulsions since the mid 1990s. As an education attorney in Sacramento California, she stretches statewide, wherever students need her, to Agoura, Julian, Meeks Bay, Stockton, Roseville, West Sacramento and many other areas.