Tuesday, October 15, 2019

CIF - The Importance Of Submitting Proper Transfer Eligibility Forms To CIF- What Parents Need To Know

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Time and time again, I meet parents whose child switched high schools and now can no longer play sports for months, a year, or maybe even two years.  Sometimes, by the time families arrive at my office, the sports ban may be difficult or impossible to overturn due to tight rules.  

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) group controls all California sports at the high school level.  However, this is not some "nice" or "pleasant" control; rather CIF tends to apply their rules in an inflexible manner, often with limited or even no appeal right.  This can be very harsh and punitive to students who switch high schools.  

Unfortunately, a student can be banned from playing at their new school for the mere fact they transferred, were recently disciplined, know a person at the new school who used to coach them, are accused of lying or being disgruntled, and for many other reasons.  

A CIF refusal to allow a student to play at the new school in many cases is not appealable.  Yet, a parent may have no idea what a denial of "transfer eligibility" means when their child enters the new school.  Not knowing anything about the harshness to come, parents may trust the new school staff (e.g. a new Coach/Athletic Director) who do not know their child or their situation, to competently convey to CIF the reason the child should be able to play varsity sports at the new school.

The new Coach will draft and submit (usually without parental input and/or without guiding the parent properly on the seriousness of the submission) a document to CIF called Form 510, the "Application For Residential Eligibility" also known as the Transfer Eligibility Form with inadequate information.  However, the CIF Commissioner upon receipt, will "investigate" and usually base their entire decision on talks with the coaches at the former school, what the Transfer Eligibility Form says, and any attachments from the Coach.  Usually the parent has no idea what a Transfer Eligibility Form is and if they are asked to give input to the new Coach prior to him/her submitting the form, the parent has little idea of the valid bases which must be demonstrated for their child to play varsity sports at the new school.

A month later, when the parent hears that their child cannot play varsity sports at their new school, and that they are out for a year or extended time, there may be no appeal and they could be OUT OF LUCK, to their shock and dismay.  If they do have an appeal right (limited cases) they would need to pursue that process.

As many Transfer Eligibility determinations have no appeal right (including hardship), it is absolutely critical that parents learn about the Transfer Eligibility Form and submit adequate arguments and documentary support with this form when it is given to CIF.

Some examples of items that could be useful as attachments to the Transfer Eligibility Form include, as relevant:

1)  Document outlining the bases on which the child should be allowed to play sports on an unlimited and/or limited basis.
2)  Parent declarations (sworn statements) outlining key facts
3)  Student declaration outlining key facts
4)  School documents proving a "hardship" (see CIF Bylaw 207B5c)
5)  Police reports
6)  Divorce documents/court orders
7)  Proof of marriage
8)  Board of Education rulings/school correspondence
9)  History of past teams/coaches versus new coaches
10)  Administrative/school records
11)  Other documents which may prove student should be able to compete

This is a huge topic.  This article only brushes the surface.  I cannot emphasize enough that parents of students playing high school sports and thinking about transferring their child from one school to another FOR ANY REASON, if the student wants to play varsity sports at the new school, MUST MUST MUST prepare their transfer arguments and work with the Coach at the new school to prepare a very good and detailed document to accompany the Transfer Eligibility Form.  It is absolutely critical.

Otherwise, it may be too late before a parent realizes that they can no longer do anything but return to the prior school if they want their child to play varsity sports.  This can present a severe strain on the child and family, particularly if they are being scouted, depend on sports for motivation, or may need a scholarship for college.  It is terrible to not be able to play sports just because you chose to change schools and even more terrible to be denied the ability to play for a short or long period of time just because the new Coach did not communicate the situation adequately to CIF.  CIF is not a group to go lightly on kids, and they won't go lightly here, unfortunately.

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Restraint And Seclusion Not To Be Used As School Punishment

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

In California public schools, "Hands off!" should be the motto for school staff.  There are so many minefields involving interaction between staff and students that this is the best policy.  One issue which may come up with an unruly child, or a student who the staff cannot handle competently, is the use of restraint and seclusion- e.g. staff putting hands on a child to stop their movement or control them.  This subject is much broader than a single blog, but one basic for parents to know is that school staff cannot impose restraints or seclusion as punishment, for any child.

In 2019, significant legislation went into effect (see California Education Codes 49005-49006.4) about restraints, seclusion, when these things are appropriate/not appropriate and what is allowed.  For now, the one basic I want to impart to parents is the fact that restraint and seclusion cannot be used just because staff feel like it (e.g. because Joe mouthed off) and are reserved only for situations in which a serious danger is present. 


"A pupil has the right to be free from the use of seclusion and behavioral restraints of any form imposed as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience, or retaliation by staff. This right includes, but is not limited to, the right to be free from the use of a drug administered to the pupil in order to control the pupil’s behavior or to restrict the pupil’s freedom of movement, if that drug is not a standard treatment for the pupil’s medical or psychiatric condition." [emphasis added]

Restraints or seclusion (within certain limits) are NOT prohibited in emergency situations or when there is a "clear and present danger of serious physical harm to the pupil or others that cannot be immediately prevented by a response that is less restrictive." [Ed §49005.4]

Additionally, a police or security guard's action to protect public safety, a timeout that is part of a school program in a non-locked setting, an escort where a student is being touched on their arm, etc. for direction, and possibly other actions depending on the circumstances, are not included in the prohibition.

Yet, if your son or daughter is mouthing off and is taken to the ground when they are not a physical threat, that restraint would not be appropriate.  Locking a student in a room when they have not acted in a dangerous manner would also be prohibited.

Some parents reading this may believe these things don't happen at schools.  Unfortunately they would be wrong.  Children are manhandled and treated improperly on a daily basis in California schools.  It is up to parents to take notice, complain, and address inappropriate restraint and isolation, using the law as their weapon, to defeat such harmful practices.

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

How To Appeal A California School Suspension When Your Child Did Not Do It


By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

The phone rings- and it's your kid's school.  First thoughts: "Oh no, is something wrong?  Is my child hurt?"  When you answer, you hear:  "Come to the school as Johnny has done wrong and has to go home."  He was suspended.  The facts of why are abbreviated and you are seriously confused.  The drive to school is strained and when you arrive, you immediately believe what the school administrator says Johnny did is true as he is a "respectable school official."  [mistake number one]  Meanwhile Johnny sits with his head down in the corner, silent [silence here may actually be positive].  You sign the suspension form [mistake number two] and take Johnny home and maybe punish him.  Eventually you review the suspension form and find that it says Johnny did something that he did NOT DO, or find he was NOT involved in the matter alleged.  Horror sets in as you realize Johnny's college chances are now potentially lessened and he is labelled a troublemaker.  What can you do?  APPEAL!

There is no code section mandating a suspension appeal in California.  For this reason, parents who call the school or show up asking to "appeal" a suspension are met with statements such as "You can't appeal," or "There is no appeal process."  Yet, we all know that even when there is no "formal" appeal, there is always a way to try to get something overturned if you talk to the right people.

In some school districts, there are actual suspension appeal policies and even a form sometimes to complete, but this is not the norm.  If there is a policy and form, these should be completed fully and WRITTEN evidence attached proving all points.  If there is no form (most likely situation), that does not mean parents are out of luck.  In that case, parents can still file a suspension appeal whether authorized or not.  This would be done by submitting written arguments with written proof to the Principal, and then moving up the line to the Superintendent's office personnel and to the Superintendent if possible.  

Pursuing a suspension appeal could involve the following steps :

1)  Obtain the relevant Education Codes/Board policies (usually found online) that are cited in the suspension form as being breached and read them to see how they apply or don't apply.  Review other education codes relevant to suspension (such as Education Codes §§ 48900-48929) to understand how these things work generally.

2)  Obtain a copy of any/all evidence the school has, such as witness statements, and your own child's statements.  Sometimes schools don't turn these over to parents and legal intervention may be needed to clarify that these documents ARE student records and need to be coughed up.  Unfortunately, California Education Code (Ed §49069) allows them 5 business days to provide them, but you can plead for these sooner due to the situation.

3)  Develop written documentation on the matter proving your arguments.  This can be in the form of sworn declarations of the student or their friends who witnessed the situation (you would need to contact those students directly).  Even email from a teacher on the matter can be evidence.

4) Draft a very well written, truthful, professional document with an outline of the facts from your viewpoint, the laws/policies that apply, and with actual arguments why these don't or should not apply to your child.  State what you want- the student to be returned to school and the matter to be rescinded and/or expunged.  Note: it is inadvisable in the document to include personal attacks or name calling.  

5)  Some Districts actually allow a student to return to school while a suspension appeal is pending and this also could be explored if available (this is not the norm).

Everything should be in writing and submitted to the relevant school officials, asking for a prompt meeting.  It is usually a good idea to provide the letter in advance of the meeting so the personnel can review it and understand the issues before you arrive.

If this fails, you can pursue other alternatives to attempt to correct the record, such as inserting your statement about the matter into the student's records or pursuing a formal records correction request.

Who knows, if you try, maybe your child's suspension will be reversed.  The truth is that administrators assume kids are guilty just because someone says they are, and parents must challenge them when they are wrong.  It will take a lot of intensive work to do it....  but little Johnny and his future are worth it!

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Suspension or Expulsion for Actual or Attempted Hate Violence


By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Parents every day face suspensions of their children for a myriad of reasons, some legitimate and some not so legitimate.  One section I see infrequently used by schools is California Education Code §48900.3, which allows suspension or expulsion for "hate violence."  This could be good or bad depending on who you represent.

Specifically this section states:

...[A] pupil in any of grades 4 to 12, inclusive, may be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion if the superintendent or the principal of the school in which the pupil is enrolled determines that the pupil has caused, attempted to cause, threatened to cause, or participated in an act of, hate violence... [Ed §48900.3]

The Education Code looks to the criminal code (Penal Code) in California to define this term "hate violence" (see Ed Codes §§48900.3 and 233 and Penal Codes §§422.55 422.6, 422.7, 422.75).  This makes it a bit hard for the average individual to track, and perhaps even school employees to discern, what 'hate violence" IS.

First, although the word "violence" is included in the Education Code, when one reviews the relevant Penal Codes, it is clear that no actual violence needs to happen for a suspendable or expellable offense to occur.  Unfortunately, only an "attempt" or "threat" of hate violence could be enough.

Basically, a student may be guilty of  "hate violence" if that child interferes with another person's constitutional rights (not a small concept here for a student or school employee to fathom- law libraries are filled with large dusty law books defining "constitutional rights") because of their "actual or perceived characteristics"including:

(1) Disability.

(2) Gender.
(3) Nationality.
(4) Race or ethnicity.
(5) Religion.
(6) Sexual orientation.
(7) Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. [Penal  Code 
§
422.55]


I rarely, if ever, see this section used, at least not as the main charging allegation, but it would apply perhaps when a student is targeted with malicious acts due to being a disabled student (something I DO frequently see) or due to their ethnicity or other protected characteristic(s).  It could also apply if a student's Free Speech rights were cut because the student was not heterosexual, or if a student were cut off from a group (Freedom of Association) due to their race.

This section applies starting in the fourth grade, similar to sexual harassment offenses, so your third grader should not see this section on any suspension form.  

As far as allowing a student to be punished for an "attempted" or "threatened" hate violence, this is a tad unusual, as the majority of sections in the Education Code allowing suspension or expulsion do not allow "attempts" to commit an act to be a basis for discipline.  This means if someone throws a water balloon and attempts to hit someone due to their religion or race but misses, they could conceivably be punished.  

Now, I wonder how much education really goes on in schools about "hate violence" and breach of "constitutional rights."  I thought United States History was not until senior year of high school and if so, students will need to be better informed of things that could be "hate violence."  Probably they get just a single brief assembly in the beginning of the year which everyone promptly forgets.  Just another in the long list of punishments our kids could be subject to in the wacky school universe!

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Summertime Expulsion Timelines- How Long Can A District Wait To Hold A Summer Expulsion Hearing And The Hearing Still Be Legal?


By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Have you ever wondered if your child may escape expulsion if he or she does something just before summer vacation?  Maybe they can skate by and the discipline will be forgotten?  What are the timelines during summer break?

Most parents probably think that if a child does something expellable 5 days before school ends that any discipline hearing will not be held until the fall semester, months later.  Not so, at least not if the hearing is legal.  Per California Education Code §48918(a) expulsion hearings must be held within 30 schooldays.  

But aren't there no schooldays during the summer?  Good question.  


(c) “Schoolday” means a day upon which the schools of the district are in session or weekdays during the summer recess. [emphasis added]

What this means is, although school may end on May 25, the "schooldays" for purposes of expulsion hearing timelines are still running Monday- Friday during the summer.  This count would likely exclude any major holiday such as July Fourth.

So, no expulsion hearing will wait until the fall semester if the act occurred the prior school year, at least not without a parent waiver or the student being in a year round school.  

This can be positive for the student as Districts can miss summer timelines and be forced to drop an expulsion recommendation.  Administrators may also have limited summer staff they don't want to pull away from summer break for a hearing, so may be slightly more willing to make a deal.  This is not always the case, but we can all hope.

Much of the time, alert district administrators are aware of the summer issues.  However, if a parent is also alert, and calculates the time, finding that the hearing was not convened timely (e.g. it was convened after 30 "schooldays"), that parent may then stop the hearing from proceeding at all.  If the district moves forward regardless, this error could give a parent the right to appeal and overturn any discipline that results from the untimely expulsion hearing.

So, if your kid did something at the end of last schoolyear and is facing an expulsion hearing in the fall, or late summer, you may want to check your calendars and count the days to see if maybe the expulsion hearing is now untimely, and even better, illegal for the district to pursue.  

Best,



Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Monday, April 8, 2019

Corporal Punishment: Intentionally Causing Physical Pain To A Student Is Prohibited in California

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

School staff willfully inflicting physical pain to students is considered corporal punishment and prohibited in California unless certain exceptions exist.  As such, hitting, pulling hair, pinching, kicking, and other forms of physically painful contact with a student, usually are unacceptable and illegal.

In California Education Code section 49001, "Corporal Punishment" is defined as: "willful infliction of, or willfully causing the infliction of, physical pain on a pupil."  This means that any PHYSICAL PAIN caused intentionally to a student, by a person employed or engaged by a school, is not okay.  Would purposefully slamming a student into a wall, spanking a student, slapping their hand with a ruler, and/or lifting a student out of a pool by their hair be considered "corporal punishment?"  To determine this, ask yourself: was physical pain caused to the student?  Was the physical pain intentionally caused by the school representative?  If the answer is yes, the conduct could constitute prohibited corporal punishment under section 49001 so long as it does not fit under an exception.

Education Code section 49001 lists the exceptions to corporal punishment as follows:

"An amount of force that is reasonable and necessary for a person ... to quell a disturbance threatening physical injury to persons or damage to property, for purpose of self-defense, or to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects within the control of the pupil is not ... corporal punishment.  "

If a student were pulled by their hair to prevent drowning, knocked into a wall in an attempt to obtain a gun, or hurt when the staff member was trying to stop them from being punched, causing physical pain might not be considered prohibited under the circumstances.  But we can all see how that is different from going after a kid to cause them pain with no legitimate reason.  If there were harm caused in a justified situation, the only question then would be, was the physical pain caused "reasonable and necessary?"  That may be a matter of opinion as even in "self-defense," staff can go to far.

If parents encounter what they believe to be intentionally caused physical pain and/or harm by a teacher or other school representative, they may want to file a personnel and/or other type of complaint to ensure the person involved is corrected and the matter resolved.  Otherwise, the staff member could continue their improper conduct with even more dire consequences the next time.

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.


originally published 5/16/2011, updated 4/8/2019

Monday, February 25, 2019

When Your Child Tells You School Staff Are Treating Them Wrong- Should You Believe Them?

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Has your son or daughter told you they are being punished by school staff while other kids doing the same things are not?  Do they complain often about being treated bad in class or being excluded by the teacher?  Did you believe them?  Should you?

As parents we know our children.  We know they are fantastic, wonderful, amazing, and also that they can be troublemakers and sometimes make things up.  We also naturally trust school staff as revered authority figures.  The schools know this and use this to their advantage.  

I know when I was a kid I never thought schools or school staff could do wrong.  I thought schools were safe places and the staff would always help me.  It is this viewpoint that keeps parents doubting their kids when they may actually be reporting a REAL problem.  As parents we may tend to doubt them if they say a teacher wronged them, as we think: "Teacher X would never do that!"  I am sorry to say, sometimes Teacher X may "do that."

I have met with many parents who find their child is an inappropriate target of staff at their school.  They have either been labelled a troublemaker, and are then blamed for everything happening around them; or a staff member just does not like them,and as a result picks on them or excludes them.  Neither case is appropriate.

But what should a parent do about it?  There are some basic steps which could help.

First, get all the information from your child on what is happening, who is involved, and the circumstances.  

Next, investigate further.  Can you schedule a visit to the classroom or campus to observe?  Can you speak with staff about how your child is doing and what is going on in class?  It is possible this may solve it.  

If this does not put an end to the situation, a parent may want to have a meeting with the school administration to discuss.  A written submission of the situation could be a good idea and daily email of issues may be needed to keep a record, as well as put the school on notice.

The District is a resource as well if things cannot be resolved at the school level.  

Often I find that parents are not believed either, as school/district personnel may have the "No staff member would do wrong" syndrome.  Schools also tend to believe their own staff over a parent, and definitely pick and choose when to believe a child.  One minute the kid is the source of all knowledge (for example when they accuse another kid of selling drugs or bullying) and another time the child will not be believed when they are the victim.  Who knows which time this is.

Ultimately, you may end up needing to file a formal investigation request and/or personnel complaint on the situation.

If all else fails, you can also seek an intradistrict transfer, but often for parents this is a last resort.  However, your child and their safety is important and if things can't or won't get corrected, sometimes we need to do something else.

I think the message I have for parents is that you SHOULD listen to your kids on allegations they have.  At least listen then investigate for yourself.  Too much bad stuff goes on at school that parents find out too late.  What I have heard over the past 20+ years from parents is enough to make any parent run far away from any school.... but I only hear the bad stuff and am a tad jaded as a result.  There is plenty of good in schools, but we need to help our kids when they tell us something bad is occurring.  As, oftentimes they may be right!

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]


Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Monday, October 22, 2018

How To Survive Public School With Less Chance Of Discipline -What You Need To Tell Your Kids BEFORE They Go To School

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Over the years, I have had my eyes opened far larger than the average parent on just what can lead to school discipline due to all the terrible stories I have heard in my law practice.  I often find myself trying to cram in general advice for parents on what to tell their kids so they will be less likely to get suspended or expelled.  Is it possible to prevent all chance of suspension or expulsion?  No.  However, perhaps a little wisdom shared with your kids may help them avoid some issues.

So, here are some simple things to share with your kids, whatever age they may be, to try to prevent problems long before they start:  

Things Brought to School

1)  Don't bring any odd household objects to school.  For example, that steak knife, or that sharp thing from your recent trip, may mean discipline.
2)  Check your pants pockets prior to going to school and don't leave any multitools or pocket knives in them.  Kids may go fishing over the weekend and drop a multitool with a blade into their pocket and wear the same pants to school.  We don't want to bring these items to school.
3)  Same goes for backpacks, purses, and anything taken to school. [Parents- check their stuff too.]
4)  Never bring a weapon or fake weapon (e.g. airsoft gun), to school, for "protection" or for any other reason.

Found/Shared Items

5)  Don't agree to hold anything for anyone else.  
6)  Don't pick up that dangerous object you see on the ground- tell an adult if you wish (parents you decide on that one), but don't touch it.  

Physical Contact

7)  Don't hit or stab someone with something.  Even a pencil can be a weapon if used the wrong way.
8)  Hands off is a great policy. And no hitting, shoving, tripping, etc.
9)  Don't get in that fight- handle it another way if possible as discipline usually follows regardless of who started it.  

Communication

10)  Don't make fun of others for being fat, gay, from a certain country, for being male/female, etc.- this could lead to a bullying allegation and discipline.
11)  Don't draw (e.g. doodling etc.) weapons, explosives or scenes of murder, decapitation, etc,.  Teachers and school staff are sensitive to these.
12)  Don't repeat (verbally, in writing, etc.) violent lyrics.  The lyric "I'm gonna roll in and destroy you," can be misinterpreted and be a basis for discipline.
13)  Don't make lists of classmates for negative purposes or say you have a "list" of classmates you don't like/want to hurt, etc.  
14)  Don't tell anyone you are going to hurt them, may hurt them, someone will hurt them, etc.
15)  Don't say or post that you are going to damage or harm the school, students, or a school staff member at any time.

Social Media

16)  Be very careful what you post, like, comment on, and what student groups you join on line.  I have seen students punished for posting/liking a post that was allegedly improper and for being in a group which made fun of students.
17)  Don't take or post photos with weapons or imitation weapons (e.g. air soft guns).
18)  Be careful what you text/photograph/forward.
19)  A "private group" is not really a private group on line.  Other students (even non-members) or a parent may turn in something inappropriate.  Just get your kids to understand that ultimately, nothing is really "private" on line, regardless how small the group.
20)  Snapchat, despite rumors, is definitely not a safe place to post things - many kids think Snapchat means instant post then gone forever.  You don't know how many times I have had Snapchat posts as a basis for discipline.  People screenshot items and turn them in to schools all the time.
21)  No nude photos of yourself or others.  And don't pass them on if someone sends these to you.

Relationships

22)  Be careful with relationships- I have many times seen girls make allegations against boys which get them in trouble, and the boys have no defense if no one else is there.  This applies to all genders and all types of relationships.

Drugs/Medications

23)  Don't agree to get any improper substance for anyone, for free, paid or otherwise.  No controlled substances should be exchanged.
24)  No possession of nicotine, vaping material, drugs, alcohol, or drug paraphernalia.
25)  Marijuana is still prohibited.
26)  Don't carry anyone else's prescriptions or medications.
27)  All prescription or non-prescription medications (even cough drops) must be okayed by the school office, and if you want to carry them, the school must okay this.  No sharing your medications.

Bullying

28)  Report bullying to your parent and to the office in written/online form so there is a record. 

Basics/Attendance

29)  Use basic manners and common sense at school- if it feels its wrong, maybe it is.
30)  A day off of school for a vacation or personal reasons (other than religious, funeral, medical  or other legitimate excused), will be an unexcused absence.  If you will go out of town for a vacation during school time, get advanced approval of a short term independent study contract so there are no truancy issues.

And last but not least, have a plan if your child gets called into the office on what they need to do, how they can get a hold of you (the parent) when the office won't let them call you - e.g. texting you- and what they should say or not say at the office.   

This does not cover all possibilities, but it should be enough to get a productive conversation started.

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

2018 CIF Sports Transfer Rule- First Sit Out Period Now Fifty Percent Of Season

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), which governs all high school sports, has yet again changed the time a student must sit out of a sport [Sit Out Period (SOP)] when transferring for the first time without a family move.  This rule should apply until August 2019 when they may or may not change it again.

CIF is a problem child for many California high schoolers, as they can be very strict and can stop a student's ability to participate in varsity level sports, often without all the facts.  One common issue is when a student transfers schools their first time, but their family does not move.  If this student does not transfer based on a discipline matter and have not transferred in high school before (ensuring they generally won't play for a year), they will face a limited varsity SOP at the new school for any sport where they participated at their former school.  

Previously, CIF had specific sit out dates for various sports.  However, as of today, CIF has implemented a 50% (plus one day if the season days is an odd number of days) sit out rule.  The amended rule, in bylaw 207 B(5)b(ix) states in part:

The Sit-Out Period will be 50% of the total number days in that particular season of sport. The number of days in a season is determined by each Section in accordance with their first allowable competition date through the final regular season competition date. If total number of days in a season is an odd number, then the Sit Out Period would be 50% plus one additional day. 

This means if a season went 120 days, the student could not participate for 60 of the 120 days. If it was 121 days, the student would sit out 61 days.

Additionally, if a student played in the same sport at the prior school during the same school year they transferred, they would not be able to play at all that year.  Other various rules apply as well.

CIF is the bane of many parents lives, and will usually strictly apply rules with few options for appealing SOPs imposed except under certain limited bases.  Parents beware when moving your sports-playing students.

Best,




Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Importance Of The Chronic Illness Form When Your Child Is Sick

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Life may seem rosy for most California public school kids as they can attend school and are there for most of the material, homework, tests and other school activities.  However, if you find your child is missing a lot of school due to a long term illness and attendance is becoming an issue, completion of a "Chronic Illness Verification  Form" may help protect your child, as well as you, from truancy and other issues.

Truancy laws in California can be very heavy handed and allow punishment for a student with 3 unexcused absences and/or who misses more than 30 minutes in a day without valid excuse (Ed §48260).  Although most schools allow students to miss 3 days without a doctor's note, and only parent verification of illness, the fourth day means a mandated visit to a doctor just to get a note.  If the parent does not get this note for that day and days following, the student may be stuck with an unexcused absence.  Three of these unexcused sick days (days beyond what the school allows a parent to excuse) without a doctor's note may may mean the student is labelled a "truant."  

What happens if the child has an illness which keeps them out for a week at a time, and a doctor visit won't alter this (as it is a chronic condition such as cancer, heart condition, debilitating stomach or pain issues, etc.)?  The parent is still forced to drag their child to a waiting room to see a medical person, and must incur a bill for the office visit just to confirm the child is ill and receives an excused absence.  This is even the case  if the parent already knows their child is sick from illness, but must just stay out a fourth, fifth, etc. day of school in a row prior to being able to return to school.

Schools may not tell parents, but when a student has issues where they physically cannot attend school frequently, which are medically documented, the parent has options other than dragging their child to the doctor on the fourth day of any absence.  These options are not always communicated to families by schools.  

One great option for parents is to have their doctor complete a "Chronic Illness Verification Form,"  (link to form which opens a Word document). This form gives the parent the ability to excuse their child beyond the 3 days the schools normally allow.  The preface in the form states:

"The Chronic Illness Form allows parents to excuse absences due to a specific medical condition with the same authority as a medical professional." 

It may be best to ask for the school's form as a first step, but a parent does not have to wait to get this form from their school.  Rather, parents can take this form directly to their child's doctor.   

Once this form is completed by the medical professional, it is returned to the school, which may verify the form came from the physician.  Thereafter, the parent may excuse their child for medical reasons for an extended time period without having to go to the doctor.  Work missed should be able to be made up and truancy issues will hopefully not be pursued (fingers crossed as some districts try to pursue truancy for "excessive excused" absences).

Other options for help with this type of situation are Home Hospital Instruction (HHI), as well as setting up a Section 504 Plan, or even an IEP (Individualized Education Program).  However, while those may be pending or even not pursued by the parent, this form can help a parent deal with a student who just cannot go to school due to their illness.  It allows an already stressed parent to breathe a large sigh of relief that even though their child is very ill, at least a doctor's visit is not needed every fourth day to avoid truancy at school.    

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney 

LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL 
717 K Street, Suite 228 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: 916-444-9064 
Email:help@edlaw4students.com 
Fax: 916-444-1209
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]

Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.