Last Updated on April 21, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
Involuntary school transfers come suddenly and unexpectedly. When a student loses a school, it is almost like a gangster came in and suddenly took out a family member. When the involuntary transfer is to a continuation school, it is like the whole family went down.
Often what happens is life is rosy and everything in school seems to be going well. Suddenly, a parent receives a letter, call or other communication notifying them that their child is being forced to switch schools aka involuntarily transfer. Unfortunately, this is legal in California, but not without a few requirements schools must follow. Each requirement gives a student a chance to stop the involuntary transfer.
Forced Involuntary School Transfer Requires Written Notice
Per California Education Code section 48432.5 notice of the intent to involuntarily transfer a student to a continuation school must be sent in writing. In other words, parents must receive a letter which communicates the involuntary transfer is pending.
Notice Must Offer Meeting Regarding Student Prior to Involuntary Transfer
The school’s letter must offer the parents a right to request a meeting about the student’s involuntary transfer with a school district representative. Note this meeting will not just occur- it has to be requested or it won’t proceed.
If Meeting Isn’t Requested, Involuntary School Transfer Proceeds
If parents don’t request the meeting on the involuntary student transfer, it will go into effect as indicated in the letter from the school.
Involuntary Transfer Basis Disclosed at Meeting
If a parent requests the meeting, the basis for the student’s forced transfer will be disclosed at the school meeting.
Right to Inspect All Documents, Question Witnesses, and Present Evidence
At the parent- requested transfer meeting, the parents “shall have the opportunity to inspect all documents relied upon, question any evidence and witnesses presented and present evidence on the pupil’s behalf.” [California Education Code section 48432.5]
Request Documents Prior to Meeting
Parents should not wait until the meeting to review the documents. A request should be made prior to the meeting for any relevant documents, the basis for the transfer and witnesses which may be called. Otherwise, the student cannot present a proper defense.
Student Has To Have Committed Suspendable Act or be Habitually Truant
An involuntary transfer to continuation school must be based on the fact that the student committed a suspendable act or that they have been habitually truant (reported truant on 3+ occasions – see Ed Code 48262) or irregular in attendance.
Decision After Meeting Must Be In Writing
If parents pursue the involuntary transfer meeting, the post-meeting decision on whether to involuntarily transfer a student to continuation school must be in writing. The letter must indicate that the student’s involuntary transfer will be periodically reviewed, the procedure for the student review, and the facts supporting the involuntary transfer to a continuation school.
Decisionmakers Cannot Be From School Involuntarily Transferring
No one making the decision that a student will be involuntarily transferred may be on the staff of the school which is kicking the student out.
Other Means of Correction Must Have Failed Unless Dangerous
Involuntary transfer should be imposed only after “other means fail to bring about pupil improvement.” However, even with a first suspension a student may be involuntarily transferred if their presence presents a danger to “persons or property or threatens to disrupt the instructional process.”
Maximum Length of Involuntary Transfer: Two Semesters
The involuntary student transfer to continuation school can’t go longer than 2 semesters. When measuring the semesters, the current semester will be included, unless the policy of the district allows for only yearly review.
Many Pre-Transfer Attack Points
If a parent requests the meeting on the involuntary transfer, and the above requirements are not met, the transfer can be attacked for not meeting legal requirements.
Check School Policies
In addition, parents should check their school district’s policies on involuntary transfers to continuation schools. School policies might offer even more requirements a parent can attack, and an appeal process.
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.