Law Office of Michelle Ball 48915,discipline,drugs,expulsion,weapons When is School Expulsion Mandatory in California Public Schools?

When is School Expulsion Mandatory in California Public Schools?


Last Updated on March 17, 2021 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

School expulsion is NOT something any parent wants their child to endure.  To be removed entirely from a school district to have to attend a “bad” school is not a fun process.  A permanent mark is placed on the student’s record which may come up later in life, including when completing college applications.  As such, it is good to know WHEN an expulsion is MANDATORY for a school district. In other words, when does a school district have no choice but to recommend expulsion and thereafter expel a student?

In California there are only five categories where a public school student MUST be expelled.  Please see Education Code §48915(c) for more specifics:

1)  Possessing, selling or furnishing a firearm.
2)  Brandishing a knife at another person.
3)  Unlawfully selling a controlled substance.
4)  Committing or attempting to commit a sexual assault or committing a sexual battery.
5)  Possession of an explosive.

These are the Big 5 offenses.  IF a district can prove at the expulsion hearing (to a panel of school district employees) that one of these occurred, they are legally obligated to expel the student.

If a student is expelled under §48915(c), the only attendance option (unless negotiated otherwise) is to attend a county community school, juvenile court school or community day school (see §48915.2), which are environments most parents would prefer to avoid. 

How long an expulsion under §48915(c) will continue will depend on the hearing outcome, and/or the negotiations prior to hearing.  The legal maximum an expulsion under §48915(c) may continue is a full calendar year (unless there is a breach of the rehabilitation plan during expulsion which will extend the expulsion). The minimum is not delineated in code, but would likely be 1 semester and/or what a parent negotiates. 

It IS possible to shorten the one year expulsion mandate and negotiate and/or receive a lesser time period, or even a different type of expulsion (e.g. suspended expulsion rather than full expulsion), but whether this is possible will depend on the student, the district and the school board.  Parents will best be served by thoroughly understanding the ramifications of any expulsion and all potential outcomes, and perhaps seeing if they can negotiate a more positive outcome, prior to moving to hearing.


[originally published 1/7/11, updated 9/19/17]