Last Updated on September 14, 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 students are faced with a potential school expulsion, what are the short and long term impacts? Where will the student attend school? What harm will come to the student academically? Expulsions can be tough on families and the student themselves.
Parents and students facing the trauma of an expulsion recommendation, may find themselves wanting to avoid it, and asking “Does school expulsion really matter?”
The answer may depend on whether you are talking about immediate impacts or future difficulties.
Expulsions Are Potentially Less Damaging to College After 2020
Before 2020, expulsions mattered a lot when a student applied for college in California. However, starting in 2020, the University of California and the California State University systems changed their college entrance applications for undergraduate degrees and dropped questions about past student discipline.
Following suit in 2021, the application for many private colleges, the Common Application, removed questions about discipline as well.
There may still be colleges in California, which ask about high school or earlier discipline and have a question inserted into the Common App. This student discipline data may still be weighed in university admissions. However, it appears, at least for now (until these colleges change their application again), expulsion certainly does not matter as much as it used to.
In other states, it certainly could still matter. It is unclear what post-graduate college programs may think about past discipline in high school or below.
Expulsions Could Matter in Certain Careers
A student may pick a career path where past discipline may matter, such as politics, being an attorney, entering certain law enforcement careers or even the military. I am unaware of all professions where past punishments may matter, but it will probably matter in some.
Expulsion Matters Now
School expulsions definitely matter now for a student. The student may be out of their school, dumped in a continuation school, and may never return to a regular school if they do not meet their expulsion rehabilitation plan or other expulsion terms.
A student may be emotionally distraught, feel like an utter failure, lose hope of a bright future, and otherwise feel terrible. School expulsion also matters to their current education, their peer group, and can change the entire trajectory of a student’s life.
Impact on Grades, Classes, and Credits
When a student is expelled, there is no guarantee, particularly in high school, that a student will be able to continue all of their current classes, such as Japanese, AP (Advanced Placement) U.S. History, band, or calculus, at their new placement.
Not many continuation schools have high level classes, and this can impact the student’s graduation and college plans. Students may have to drop certain pursuits due to the quality of school they are stuck in when expelled.
Additionally, sometimes students may receive bad grades for the classes in which they were enrolled when recommended for expulsion, as they were unable to attend them or receive adequate work. They may receive “F’s” if the school does not help them complete their missing work and tests while home awaiting expulsion.
Students may find then themselves credit deficient and with a lower gpa than they wanted. They may even have their graduation date impacted.
Sports Impacts With Expulsion
A student transferred to another school due to an expulsion, will not be able to participate in sports at the new school for one year, unless they return to the prior school, per CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) rules. So, if the student was seeking a football or baseball scholarship, or opportunities for college recruitment, those will be on hold.
The Future Scapegoat
Being a student with an expulsion in their past, the student inevitably is a future target for school personnel. After all, they are the student who “did it” in the past, so they may be immediately suspected if such a situation arises again.
The student could be punished more easily and believed less by school administration, who have preconceived ideas the student is bad. This bad reputation can harm them long term.
The Rumor Mill and Reputational Damage
Word of student discipline travels with lightning speed among students and communities. It is difficult to keep anything private these days with social media, including false or exaggerated reports about the student being punished. This means that the truth may spread far or wide, or worse, terrible exaggerated rumors may spread about the student.
Will these rumors make it impossible for the student to walk safely in their community, free from taunts that they were a “school shooter” or “thief?” With the internet, it is not so clear.
Will their home be vandalized or picketed by the community? Maybe.
Expulsions are not only bad for the student, they may be bad for the entire family just trying to get on with life.
And, perhaps if a future employer googles a student, such as Nicholas Sandman, they won’t hire them due to what they read online about the student’s past issues.
Michelle Ball, attorney for students located in Sacramento California, may become involved in school discipline and other school issues across the state. Being an education lawyer, she can provide support to parents in Tracy, Ceres, Roseville, Yuba City, Woodland, and all other California cities.
Originally published December 10, 2013