Last Updated on July 27, 2022 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
When the hearing occurs, many schools do not even bring any live witness testimony to the hearing (this is a whole different evidentiary issue), and the expulsion panel evaluating the matter is made of school district employees already biased against the student. Does this sound like a fair system? Regardless, it is the expulsion system that exists for students and their parents to face.
Additionally, district expulsion panels seem to believe they are limited in what they can do as far as punishment, to full expulsion or, at best, suspended expulsion. Student expulsion panels often do not think outside a very punitive box. Sometimes expulsion panels do find students innocent, but it is a stacked deck, with presumed guilt when a student walks in to an expulsion hearing.
If a student really is innocent and this can be proven, hearing may be the only option if the school won’t drop or negotiate the pending expulsion. However even with real student innocence, an expulsion hearing still poses a risk to the student, no matter how good the case. This is particularly true with difficult accusations that other students back up. Witnesses can lie or misperceive, to the detriment of the accused student.
If a student “did it” or did something which makes them culpable in some manner, expulsion negotiation options which might have been open to a student pre-expulsion hearing may disappear at the expulsion hearing, This is due to the expulsion panel’s potentially narrow view of punishment options and their bias. Sometimes panels may be persuasively reminded of non-expulsion options, but one never knows what will happen.
With most situations, parents should try to explore pre-hearing negotiated outcome if at all possible.
I have discussed various options in a previous post, but continue to hear about parents who proceed to hearing still believing the expulsion panel will “hear them” and “understand,” only to later end up in my office with a full blown expulsion having already been issued and approved by the board of education.
Negotiating the expulsion pre-hearing is often a good option for students, and can result in a more positive expulsion outcome. Such negotiated result, even if it involves some form of punishment, may still be a victory when the potential expulsion hearing outcomes are compared.
Michelle Ball is a student lawyer helping with all aspects of suspension, expulsion and school discipline. As an education attorney in Sacramento, Michelle Ball advises parents in places like Modesto, Fremont, Torrance, Temecula, Carlsbad, Roseville, Elk Grove, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other locations.