Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
When a student is facing a public school expulsion, the process is quick, intense and confusing. Suddenly a calm school life turns into a fast paced nightmare. Often schools push parents to sign a “stipulated expulsion” quickly to avoid the hassle of a hearing.
What is a stipulated expulsion and should a parent sign one to end the pain and just get it over with?
What is a Stipulation?
A stipulation is essentially an agreement. To stipulate, per Webster’s, is to make an agreement to do or not do something.
So, a stipulation is something agreed to by two or more parties (like the school district and the parent). Stipulations (aka contracts) may be signed to resolve a school problem, argument, or legal issue.
Stipulations can be entered for school expulsions, if the school and parent can agree on the terms. No one can force a parent to sign any stipulated expulsion.
What is a Stipulated Expulsion?
A stipulated expulsion is essentially an agreement that a student will be expelled.
This agreement will include the length of the student’s expulsion, its terms and conditions. It also will include the terms of readmission to be applied after the expulsion is over.
The stipulation will also define what type of expulsion the student will receive, such as a suspended or full expulsion.
Why would a school want a stipulated expulsion? So many reasons.
Stipulated Expulsions Are Good for School Administrators
As school districts cannot just impose a school expulsion on a student, they may be motivated to push harsh stipulated expulsions on parents to avoid the hassle of an expulsion hearing.
If a parent agrees to expulsion via agreement, the expulsion process is shortened and the student is out of the school district faster.
Then, the school can cancel the expulsion hearing, save time, and go straight to the board of education, which will likely approve the stipulated expulsion with a yawn It will then go into effect.
Harsh stipulated expulsions are a school administrator’s dream!
Instead of preparing for a nasty expulsion hearing over the weekend, the school principal and administrator can head out to the school barbecue, while the student is out of their hair.
Expulsion Appeals are Avoided
With a stipulated expulsion, the school administrators won’t have to worry about any appeals to the county board of education. They also don’t have to worry about a student returning to their school if an expulsion is overturned. No mean attorneys will come in to attack their weak hearsay case.
This is because a stipulated expulsion contains waivers of rights and appeals. Parents waive their hearing and appeal rights when signing a stipulated expulsion. They sign everything away, while agreeing to expel the student.
Stipulated expulsions make school administrators lives easier. They are great for them but are not always great for the student being expelled, depending on their terms.
Strongarm Tactics When Pushing Stipulated Expulsions
Due to simplifying the expulsion process for a school, stipulated expulsions can sometimes be pushed hard.
There may also be a bit of deception, exaggeration, and gaslighting to try to get parents to sign a stipulated expulsion agreement.
Parents may be told that: “Today is the only day this agreement will be available!” “Sign now, or the deal is off!!!!!” “The student will lose!” “You will be a bad parent if you don’t take this [awful] offer!” Ugh.
Sometimes schools forbid parents from taking a proposed stipulated expulsion out of the room to review at home or with their spouse. This is a another gross strongarm pressure tactic. Parents may be reminded of being trapped in a used car lot.
Schools may also lie to parents about the advantages of signing the stipulated expulsion document, which in fact may have few or no advantages for the student.
Stipulated Expulsions Often Contain the Harshest Terms
Stipulated expulsions often contain the harshest possible terms for the student.
I have seen schools tell parents that an agreement containing the maximum possible expulsion term was advantageous. To the school, maybe. Not to the student.
A stipulation may place a student in the worst school, impose dozens of community service hours, include terms that are unrelated to the underlying accusation, or contain unrealistic expectations a student can’t meet.
A stipulated expulsion also is often a full expulsion (the heaviest kind of expulsion), rather than a suspended expulsion or involuntary transfer. Why would a school push a good outcome for a student?
Can a Parent Ever Accept a Stipulated Expulsion?
A parent can definitely enter into a stipulated expulsion. However, often the first offer may not be the offer they should accept.
If the initial offer can be negotiated to include better terms for the student, a stipulation can be a great option. However, it depends on what can be negotiated.
Parents should remember that when pushy schools are pressuring parents, the best advice is to go slow and to beware!
Michelle Ball is a student-focused attorney who can help negotiate and resolve school expulsions. As a lawyer in California, she has the honor of helping parents across the Golden State, in Sacramento, Auburn, Folsom, Newport Beach, Redwood City, Fresno, and many other locations.