Last Updated on July 28, 2022 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
Over the years as a student attorney, I have had my eyes opened VERY WIDE on just what can lead to school discipline. I often find myself trying to educate parents on what to tell students so they will be less likely to get suspended or expelled from school. Is it possible to prevent all chance of suspension or expulsion? No. However, perhaps a little wisdom shared with students may help them avoid some school issues.
Here are some simple things to share with students, at elementary, middle or high school levels, to try to prevent problems long before they start.
Things Students Bring to School
1) Students should not bring any odd household objects to school. For example, that steak knife, or that sharp thing from a recent trip, should stay at home or it could may mean discipline.
2) Students should check pants pockets prior to going to school. Multitools or pocket knives should be taken out and left at home. If students go fishing over the weekend, have a multitool with a blade or knife in their pocket and wear the same pants to school, this could mean school expulsion. We don’t want to bring these items to school.
3) Same goes for backpacks, purses, and anything taken to school. Check them and remove dangerous objects or prohibited items. Parents should check student stuff too.
4) Students should never bring a weapon or fake weapon to school, for “protection” or for any other reason.
Finding and Sharing Items at School
5) Students should not agree to hold anything for anyone else, to “help” them or for any other reason. If a student is caught with it, there may not be an excuse.
6) Students should not pick up that dangerous object on the ground and should tell an adult if the parents wants them to. Just don’t touch the dangerous object.
Student Physical Contact
7) Students should not hit or stab someone with something. Even a pencil can be a weapon if used in the wrong way.
8) Hands off is a great general policy and, definitely no student hitting, shoving, tripping, etc.
9) Students should avoid fights. Handle it another way if possible, as discipline usually follows regardless of who “started” it.
10) Students should not make fun of other students or school personnel for being fat, gay, from a certain country, for being male/female, being non-binary, etc.- this could lead to a bullying allegation and discipline.
11) No drawing (e.g. doodling etc.) weapons, explosives or scenes of murder, decapitation, etc,. Teachers and school staff are very sensitive to these and expulsion recommendations may follow.
12) Students should not repeat (verbally, in writing, etc.) violent lyrics. The lyric “I’m gonna roll in and destroy you,” can be misinterpreted by school staff and form a basis for discipline.
13) Students should not make lists of classmates for negative purposes or say you have a “list” of classmates you don’t like/want to hurt, etc.
14) No student should tell anyone at school they will hurt them, may hurt them, someone will hurt them, etc.
15) Students should never say or post that they are going to damage or harm the school, students, or a school staff member at any time. Schools are paranoid, and even casual comments about harming a school can lead to expulsions.
Student Social Media
16) Students must be careful in what they post, like, comment on, and what student groups are joined 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. Whether this was legal or not, is a large question. Just be cautious.
17) Students should not post photos with weapons or imitation weapons.
18) Never post threats against the school or school staff.
19) A “private group” is not really a private group on line. Other students (even non-members) or a parent may turn in student activities they think are inappropriate. Kids must understand that if it is related to school and they would not want the Principal to read it, maybe they should think twice.
20) Snapchat, and other sites which are supposed to delete things instantly are definitely not safe places to post things regarding school plans or inappropriate topics. People screenshot items and turn them in to schools all the time.
21) Students should never send nude photos of themselves or others. And don’t pass nudies on if some other student sends these.
Student Sexual Relationships or Innuendo
22) Be careful with student relationships. I have many times seen students make sexual allegations against other students which get them in trouble, and the accused student has no defense as the two students were alone. This applies to all genders and all types of relationships.
23) Never have private interactions or messaging with adult school staff or teachers that parents are not involved in. No one wants a sexual harassment allegation, or worse, a child abuse situation.
Student Drugs and Medications
24) Students should never agree to get any improper substance for anyone, for free, paid or otherwise. No controlled substances should be exchanged.
25) Students should not possess nicotine, vaping material, drugs, alcohol, or drug paraphernalia.
26) Marijuana is still prohibited at school.
27) All student prescription or non-prescription medications (even cough drops) must be okayed by the school office if students want to carry them. No sharing medications.
28) Students should not carry anyone else’s prescriptions or medications, ever.
29) Students must report bullying to parents and to the school office in writing or via an online complaint form (keep a copy) so there is a record.
Other School Basics and Attendance
30) Students must use basic manners and common sense at school- if it feels its wrong, maybe it is.
31) 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 students will go out of town for a vacation during school time, they need advanced approval for short term independent study so there are no truancy issues.
Planning for the Discipline Allegation
32) And last but not least, students and parents should have a plan in case the student is facing a discipline allegation. If a student gets called into the school office, do they know what to do, how they can get a hold of their parents if the office won’t let them call, and what they should NOT say in the office?
This should be enough to get a productive conversation started.
Student discipline and expulsion lawyer Michelle Ball helps students with school problems across California. As a specialized student attorney, Michelle can assist in all California locations including Roseville, Auburn, Sacramento, Fairfield, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno, Stockton and other towns.