Last Updated on March 18, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
One parent told me that their school district provided them with a document for a “stipulated” expulsion (meaning you simply consent to the expulsion in writing) and told them to sign by Friday or FACE A HEARING! The parent had a picture painted of doom and gloom if they DID NOT sign the document. Yet, the document bound their child to be expelled for the maximum time possible. Nothing at all would have been gained by signing the document and they could potentially have improved their punishment by simply going to hearing, or involving legal counsel. How could they get worse? The punishment they were to consent to was the most heinous possible in the situation.
To add to the trauma, the school official had misrepresented the expulsion potential, telling this parent that their child could be expelled for 1 calendar year, when the law actually limited the maximum expulsion time period to two semesters. This parent was being told she would be getting a break if she signed the document immediately and that this “break” would disappear by X day at X hour. The truth is, nothing would have been gained by signing the document, which issued the maximum possible punishment and took away the parents rights to be heard (at hearing) and appeal.
Another parent came to me after a district had pressured them to sign a waiver of time limits. California districts must send notifications of an expulsion hearing out ten days in advance. This district convinced the parent to sign a waiver of this timeline to have his hearing in a few days. They also implied that the student would be out of school a shorter period of time if the hearing proceeded quickly.
If the district wanted the kid back in school, they would have put them there. The only reason to push the hearing would be to rush a parent through and get the child OUT of the district. This is exactly what happened. When this parent called me to explain, I was all over the breached time limit and the right to appeal— until I found out about the waiver, which prevented an appeal on this issue.
Parents mistakenly believe that if the hearing panel quickly hears their child, they will be returned to school. Sadly, this may not be the case, so rushing is not the answer. Had the parent not waived the time limit, he could have brought in legal counsel and may have had a better outcome.
Resist the tactics to get you to waive your rights in expulsion hearings unless there is a benefit for your child. In my experience, there usually is not, unless REAL negotiations have occurred (e.g. with equal footing). When in doubt, review with legal counsel BEFORE signing.
Education Attorney for Students
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Please see my disclaimer. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting. This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship. This blog may not reflect the current state of the law.