Last Updated on October 17, 2023 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
Student expulsions from school occur more often than parents might think. Life may be going along smoothly, when a parent suddenly finds themselves on a call with a Vice Principal, demanding they come pick up their child, who is getting suspended. Upon arrival at school, the parent may be told, to their dismay, that a school expulsion is now pending.
Is there any hope for resolution before the dreaded expulsion hearing? Yes!
Parents Should Promptly Advocate For NO Student Expulsion
Often, parents facing a student expulsion wait for the school expulsion hearing to take place to plead the student’s case. This is based on a mistaken belief that the expulsion hearing panel and/or hearing officer will believe the student and have mercy. It may also be based on a belief that the parent cannot speak up, as no one will listen to them.
Relying on an expulsion panel, stacked against the student, is not always the best strategy if a parent wants to try to avoid expulsion. Often, expulsion panels are limited in their options for resolution. Negotiations pre-hearing are not similarly limited.
Expulsion panels are also made up of staff from the school district- need I say more?
And, whether parents may or may not be listened to is irrelevant, as it is certain is that doing nothing results in nothing. Parents can take action to try to resolve the pending student expulsion before the expulsion hearing occurs.
Options Before an Expulsion Hearing
There are options other than proceeding to a student’s expulsion hearing, such as negotiating the school discipline and coming to an agreement, which will stop the expulsion process. An agreement may involve a reduced punishment, such as involuntary transfer, or a lesser form or length of expulsion.
Some expulsion agreements can be offered by a school district without the parent asking, but may not involve great offers for a student. It depends.
How to Ask for A Better Outcome Pre-Expulsion Hearing
A parent can take certain steps to move the expulsion resolution forward, such as:
1) Obtaining all evidence in the expulsion matter, including witness statements and the complete expulsion packet, plus all student records, and
2) Reviewing all, and
3) Writing a letter explaining who the student is and describing what really happened, and
4) Requesting a specific outcome which should be tried instead of school expulsion.
Such a letter could move a student’s discipline matter toward a resolution that is less harsh, pre-hearing.
What Expulsion Alternatives Can Be Requested
Some possible alternatives which may be requested (instead of a “full” expulsion) could be:
a) A behavior contract with the student returning to the same school, or
b) An involuntary student transfer to another regular (aka comprehensive) school in the district, or
c) A suspended (probationary) expulsion with expungement and minimal terms for the student, or
d) Some other creative alternative (the sky is the limit).
Parents can send their request to the school staff member in charge of the expulsion process. No guarantees they will respond, but it is worth a shot.
The bottom line is “It can’t hurt to ask,” which is as true as ever in expulsion matters.
Do Parents Need an Attorney to Negotiate?
Unfortunately, even with a great parent proposal, schools sometimes don’t take parents seriously without an attorney.
Parents can definitely try on their own to better the student’s school discipline situation. You never know what positive results might occur for the student and their expulsion outcome with a little strategic advocacy.
Student expulsion defense lawyer Michelle Ball can help resolve and fight student suspensions, expulsion and unfair discipline throughout California. Located in Sacramento she can reach statewide to Modesto, Tahoe, Foresthill, Woodland, Natomas, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Roseville, Elk Grove, and all other California cities.
Originally written August 20, 2013