Last Updated on March 17, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
Over the years, I have had my eyes opened far larger than the average parent on just what can lead to school discipline due to all the terrible stories I have heard in my law practice. I often find myself trying to cram in general advice for parents on what to tell their kids so they will be less likely to get suspended or expelled. Is it possible to prevent all chance of suspension or expulsion? No. However, perhaps a little wisdom shared with your kids may help them avoid some issues.
So, here are some simple things to share with your kids, whatever age they may be, to try to prevent problems long before they start:
Things Brought to School
1) Don’t bring any odd household objects to school. For example, that steak knife, or that sharp thing from your recent trip, may mean discipline.
2) Check your pants pockets prior to going to school and don’t leave any multitools or pocket knives in them. Kids may go fishing over the weekend and drop a multitool with a blade into their pocket and wear the same pants to school. We don’t want to bring these items to school.
3) Same goes for backpacks, purses, and anything taken to school. [Parents- check their stuff too.]
4) Never bring a weapon or fake weapon (e.g. airsoft gun), to school, for “protection” or for any other reason.
5) Don’t agree to hold anything for anyone else.
6) Don’t pick up that dangerous object you see on the ground- tell an adult if you wish (parents you decide on that one), but don’t touch it.
7) Don’t hit or stab someone with something. Even a pencil can be a weapon if used the wrong way.
8) Hands off is a great policy. And no hitting, shoving, tripping, etc.
9) Don’t get in that fight- handle it another way if possible as discipline usually follows regardless of who started it.
10) Don’t make fun of others for being fat, gay, from a certain country, for being male/female, etc.- this could lead to a bullying allegation and discipline.
11) Don’t draw (e.g. doodling etc.) weapons, explosives or scenes of murder, decapitation, etc,. Teachers and school staff are sensitive to these.
12) Don’t repeat (verbally, in writing, etc.) violent lyrics. The lyric “I’m gonna roll in and destroy you,” can be misinterpreted and be a basis for discipline.
13) Don’t make lists of classmates for negative purposes or say you have a “list” of classmates you don’t like/want to hurt, etc.
14) Don’t tell anyone you are going to hurt them, may hurt them, someone will hurt them, etc.
15) Don’t say or post that you are going to damage or harm the school, students, or a school staff member at any time.
16) Be very careful what you post, like, comment on, and what student groups you join on line. I have seen students punished for posting/liking a post that was allegedly improper and for being in a group which made fun of students.
17) Don’t take or post photos with weapons or imitation weapons (e.g. air soft guns).
18) Be careful what you text/photograph/forward.
19) A “private group” is not really a private group on line. Other students (even non-members) or a parent may turn in something inappropriate. Just get your kids to understand that ultimately, nothing is really “private” on line, regardless how small the group.
20) Snapchat, despite rumors, is definitely not a safe place to post things – many kids think Snapchat means instant post then gone forever. You don’t know how many times I have had Snapchat posts as a basis for discipline. People screenshot items and turn them in to schools all the time.
21) No nude photos of yourself or others. And don’t pass them on if someone sends these to you.
22) Be careful with relationships- I have many times seen girls make allegations against boys which get them in trouble, and the boys have no defense if no one else is there. This applies to all genders and all types of relationships.
23) Don’t agree to get any improper substance for anyone, for free, paid or otherwise. No controlled substances should be exchanged.
24) No possession of nicotine, vaping material, drugs, alcohol, or drug paraphernalia.
25) Marijuana is still prohibited.
26) Don’t carry anyone else’s prescriptions or medications.
27) All prescription or non-prescription medications (even cough drops) must be okayed by the school office, and if you want to carry them, the school must okay this. No sharing your medications.
28) Report bullying to your parent and to the office in written/online form so there is a record.
29) Use basic manners and common sense at school- if it feels its wrong, maybe it is.
30) A day off of school for a vacation or personal reasons (other than religious, funeral, medical or other legitimate excused), will be an unexcused absence. If you will go out of town for a vacation during school time, get advanced approval of a short term independent study contract so there are no truancy issues.
And last but not least, have a plan if your child gets called into the office on what they need to do, how they can get a hold of you (the parent) when the office won’t let them call you – e.g. texting you- and what they should say or not say at the office.
This does not cover all possibilities, but it should be enough to get a productive conversation started.
Education Attorney for Students
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
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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.