Last Updated on September 7, 2022 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
After a student is expelled from school, it can feel like the end of the world. The student may be in a cruddy school, and feels defeated. Maybe they are worried college chances have been lowered.
Is there any way to get this terrible expulsion record expunged (removed from) from the student’s records after the expulsion? Maybe, but it can depend on the type of expulsion involved and whether there is an agreement expungement will proceed.
What is an Expungement?
Expungement basically means an official removal and destruction of records. A synonym could be authorized deletion and destruction of documents.
If there is an expungement of a student expulsion, the expulsion record would be removed completely from a student’s records in all places where it may appear.
Some expungements encompass just the expulsion order, and others may also include the entire expulsion packet, and correction of attendance records.
The Easiest Way to Expunge Is Via Advanced Agreement or Order
The easiest way to get an expulsion removed from a student’s records, is to have advanced agreement in a written resolution (aka stipulated agreement). Sometimes expungement agreements can also be included with the school board’s order of expulsion.
In this case, there are usually some prerequisites to the expulsion expungement actually occurring, such as completing any student rehabilitation agreement terms and getting readmitted to the school district.
Then, parents just have to prove that whatever terms exist were met, with written or other proof, and then expungement should proceed.
Who has to agree the terms are met depends on the agreement’s terms. Sometimes it it is a certain school district director, and other times it may be the school board.
When is this type of expungement term negotiated? Usually before the expulsion hearing, but parents can also ask that an expungement term be added at the student’s expulsion hearing.
Which Expulsions MAY Be Expunged Per State Law?
If a parent is not lucky enough to have expungement already agreed, whether an expungement may be requested can depend on the type of expulsion involved.
Please note the word “may.” No law mandates that school districts have to expunge any expulsion.
Per California Education Code, section 48917, the legislature gives school boards the option to expunge student expulsions. However, only one type of school expulsion is included in the law: a suspended expulsion.
Per this section, the school board may expunge the expulsion record:
(e) Upon satisfactory completion of the rehabilitation assignment of a pupil, the governing board shall reinstate the pupil in a school of the district and may also order the expungement of any or all records of the expulsion proceedings.
This board expungement would have to be requested by the parent. School boards don’t just offer to expunge student expulsions out of the blue. When a parent request has to occur is not clear in the code.
What If There Is No Law Allowing Expungement?
With expulsions that are not suspended, e.g. regular expulsions, can a parent still try to get the expulsion expunged? Yes, but there is no law addressing this.
As such, it may depend on the school district and their willingness to hear a student expungement request. Some school districts may flat refuse to entertain a student expungement request, if the expulsion was not suspended, and some may be open to listening.
You never know unless you ask.
The best chance with an expulsion that is not suspended, would be to demonstrate significant, documented positive student change over an extended time, so the school board, or school district staff considering the request, see that the student made a dumb mistake and deserves the expungement.
Regular student expulsion, however, is the one least likely and toughest to get expunged.
Do School Districts Have to Expunge?
No, expulsions do not have to be expunged, unless there is a written agreement indicating that if certain terms are met the student expulsion WILL BE or SHALL BE expunged, and proof of meeting the terms is provided.
What if The School District Won’t Expunge?
If the school district will not remove the student expulsion, parents may still submit their own reply to the expulsion, into the student’s records, explaining the situation per Education Code section 49072.
Should Parents Try to Expunge an Expulsion?
Maybe. It depends on the type of expulsion, the personnel involved and the student.
Are Expulsions Easy to Expunge?
No, expulsions are not easy to expunge. The best chance of expungement is if the expungement is agreed in writing, prior to an expulsion.
The next best chance is with a suspended expulsion.
Usually, the best time to try to get an expungement term into an expulsion is before the student is expelled, via negotiations with the school district.
Attorney for students Michelle Ball assists with suspensions, expulsions, records corrections, special education and many student matters. As a lawyer since the 1990s with an office in Sacramento California, Michelle’s reach can extend across the state, from Tahoe to South San Francisco, to San Diego and other locales.