Last Updated on August 20, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
A few years ago, legal codes regarding schools were altered to remove willful defiance and student as bases for expulsion (any grade) and for suspension through eighth grade. Prior to these changes, schools used these sections to suspend students frequently. But, did this legal change really matter?
Since starting as an attorney in the education law field, I have addressed many school expulsions. Almost all expulsions I have seen have included California Education Code §48900(k) [disruption/defiance] which I call the “catch-all” section. This section has “applied” (per school authorities only) to personnel having to call a kid out of class and talk to the student on a situation they caused, watching a fight, or any “waste” of school staff time.
Although frequently used, and very upsetting to parents, I have rarely seen the disruption/defiance legal section used alone to expel a student. Generally, this is a secondary charge which accompanies another big offense such as fighting, drugs, alcohol, harassment, bullying or otherwise. This section does not usually stand on its own for expulsion. So, removing this code as a basis for expulsion changes almost nothing.
However, for suspension, as this section no longer can be used to suspend students in eighth grade or lower, the change was much more meaningful. This removal positively affected students who may have issues in the classroom with leaving their seats, with blurting out, with arguing briefly, with getting used to authority figures bossing them around.
I have seen kindergartners suspended multiple times with section 48900(k) as a basis. Multiple suspensions for defiance/disruption of young children is very difficult for them and their parents to process. And, shouldn’t the school know how to handle young kids other than kicking them out of school? This section has helped many parents of young students who would have been suspended before and now will have to be handled in a nicer way.
So, even if these changes may not cut into the expulsion traffic much at school, this change forced schools to try other solutions, such as finding out what the student did not understand that made them bored or disinterested, solving the problem causing the student to vacate their seat, giving them a “helper” job so they can move around the class more, providing reward programs, and otherwise– all of which are usually better than kicking them home to watch TV and to feel like they are “bad.”
Student expulsion and suspension attorney Michelle Ball has helped students since the mid-1990s. As a lawyer only on the student’s side, she can focus on how best to serve students throughout California, in all towns, including Woodland, Roseville, Foresthill, Sausalito, Santa Cruz, San Anselmo and many other locations.
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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.