Law Office of Michelle Ball Discipline,Ed 48900s,Parent & student rights How To Stop Student Expulsions Using Wise Negotiations

How To Stop Student Expulsions Using Wise Negotiations


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

Have you been hit by a notice that a school expulsion hearing is being scheduled against your son or daughter? Should you go to hearing?  How does a parent get rid of it?  Most parents get a notice and don’t do anything but show up at the expulsion hearing.  However, that may not always be the best strategy.
Can Parents Really “Win” A School Expulsion Hearing”?
Yes, students definitely can “win” their school expulsion hearing and the student return to school.  
However, often the process ends with some punishment, and if an expulsion if approached poorly, may end with the heaviest punishment of all: student exclusion for a calendar year, depending on the offense.
The Expulsion Process Is Trying on Students and Families
With the expulsion process, however, there often is no “winning” as it is very difficult on students and families.  Schools line up a myriad of student statements which may conflict with each other to prove student guilt. The accused student’s statement is ignored, along with his/her friends’ statements, just because they were friends. 

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.
Expulsion Panels Tend to Lean Toward Student Guilt

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.
Expulsion Hearings Are Risky to Innocent Students

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.
Guilty Students May Lose Resolution Options by Going to Hearing

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. 
Resolution Pre-Expulsion Hearing

With most situations, parents should try to explore pre-hearing negotiated outcome if at all possible.
This usually has to be actively pursued, as the school will not generally offer a negotiated outcome.  Or, if the school does approach parents, the school’s offer is just to “stipulate expulsion” which basically means the parent signs their agreement to thejeswin-thomas-gulak5gqj-y-unsplash student expulsion proposed. 

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.  
Board of Education Vote Means Expulsion Appeal is Next Step
Once the expulsion decision is ratified by the school board, the only option is to file an expulsion appeal, and there may or may not be adequate bases to support appeal.

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.  
Attempting to negotiate a school expulsion generally serves the best interests of the student involved.  It is certainly better than blindly showing up and hoping a panel of district employees sees it the student’s way. They may, or more likely, they may not.

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.