Last Updated on October 17, 2023 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
School expulsions have many moving parts and are more complex than they may appear. But what REALLY makes an expulsion official? What is the very last stop before a school expulsion is actually finalized and imposed on the student? The school board and their final review and approval. Can parents run in and prevent the Board of Education from actually voting to expel? Maybe.
Expulsion Is NOT Imposed Until the Board of Education Rules
Elementary, middle or high school student expulsions have stages. One stage is the expulsion recommendation. Another stage is the student hearing, which is usually in front of a panel of school district employees or a single hearing officer.
The final stage is the Board of Education review of the panel’s recommendation to expel in a closed session meeting.
NO expulsion, no matter who recommended it, no matter what a parent signed, is legally imposed until the Board of Education formally approves it and makes it official in a properly noticed board meeting.
No student expulsion is imposed until the Board of Education says it is.
Isn’t the Expulsion Panel the Final Decisionmaker?
No. The expulsion panel may have heard the case, and made a recommendation that a student be expelled, or receive a suspended expulsion, but expulsion panels only have the authority to hear evidence and make a recommendation to the school board. That is their only power.
School boards usually accept and impose whatever the expulsion panel recommends, but technically, whether the school board will actually accept and impose the recommended punishment is unknown until they vote on it in closed session and thereafter publicly announce their decision.
Can Parents Influence the Board of Education?
Yes. Parents can influence the Board of Education when they review an expulsion panel’s recommendation regarding student expulsion. I have seen it. I have seen expulsion panels recommend one punishment, and the Board reject the recommendation due to parent pleas and persuasive community members rallying behind a student.
I have also, rarely, seen school boards reject or alter a signed expulsion agreement (aka stipulation), even when their own attorneys negotiated it. School boards can make their own decisions regardless of what an expulsion panel says.
How Do Parents Address the Board to Change the Expulsion Outcome?
Prior to becoming official, an expulsion panel recommendation goes to the Board of Education for review. A school board discipline review will then be scheduled and noticed in a board meeting agenda.
As students are not identified by their names when coming up for review, parents need to ask when the student’s expulsion will be reviewed by the Board. Parents should also inform the school board secretary or other relevant district personnel that they will attend the closed session and talk with the Board.
Can Parents Be Denied Entrance During Board Review?
No, parents have a right to be present when the expulsion recommendation is reviewed by the Board of Education.
School Districts Don’t Often Offer Board Meeting Attendance to Parents
Usually the school district administrator who is in charge of the expulsion will not tell parents that they can be present when the school board reviews the expulsion panel’s recommendation. Parents usually need to inquire and then notify appropriate personnel they will attend.
What Happens in School Districts Where the School Board Conducts the Expulsion Hearing?
Unfortunately, in smaller districts, sometimes there will be no expulsion panel review and the Board of Education itself will hear the expulsion matter, receive all evidence, and make a determination. In this case, there is no option to later approach the Board on their decision, as the Board has already made its expulsion decision.
Do Parents Have to Attend the Expulsion Review Board Meeting?
No, parents do not have to go to the school board meeting when the student’s expulsion is reviewed. It is not mandated, and in fact most parents don’t attend the expulsion review board meeting.
If a parent is satisfied with the outcome of the expulsion panel, they may not need to, as usually the Board of Education will simply approve whatever the expulsion panel recommends.
What Happens at the Board Meeting?
If a parent attends the Board expulsion review meeting, they will likely be given a short time to make a final plea to the Board prior to the Board ruling on the expulsion.
Parents may make their last ditch plea to not expel the student, or to reject or alter the expulsion panel recommendation. The Board won’t accept new “evidence” but they will usually allow a parent or attorney to speak.
What impact this has is undetermined, but if the expulsion panel made a terrible recommendation, it may not be a bad idea to try to improve the outcome by a heartfelt plea to the school board.
Student lawyer Michelle Ball assists in defending student school expulsions, suspensions and discipline appeals. As an attorney in Sacramento California, Michelle can assist statewide, in places such as Roseville, Auburn, Foresthill, Marin County, Folsom, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vacaville, Fairfield, and many other locations.