Monday, January 24, 2011

True Stories of California School Expulsions

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

I have been representing parents and students since 1995 and often reflect on all the stories I have heard.  Some interesting ones come to mind in the expulsion arena.

For example, some years ago I met a family whose young son was up for expulsion for positioning his FINGERS to resemble a gun (e.g. the thumb and index finger) and  going "pow pow" to another student.  For this, the student was UP FOR EXPULSION.  When we went to the hearing the teacher actually went off on how scary that was.  Fingers?  What threat do they pose?  The kid was playing with another student and had no access to any weapons.  Unbelievable.  I know there are teachers out there who could explain this, but I believe this went just a tad overboard.

Another family found their son up for expulsion for having a "mental list" of potential student targets.  Now in case you don't know, a "mental list" is a list that is in someones head-- allegedly.  It is not on paper, nor is there actual physical evidence of the "mental list."  There was no evidence this "list" existed other than student rumor which was vague to say the least.  The kid had no history of violence, no evidence in the physical world of any threat, danger, anger, etc. but was placed up for EXPULSION.  This was in the days after Columbine, but that still does not excuse a recommendation for expulsion with no support and no evidence.

I have seen male students targeted by classmates who felt scorned.  For example, a girl who a boy rejected for a relationship, conspired with her friends and the 4 girls wrote similar stories of alleged harassment by the boy which were unfounded.  The school had no choice but to investigate and to "do something" as schools cannot ignore sexual harassment allegations.  The boy was placed up for expulsion based on the false allegations.  I have seen this type of scenario more than once, so boys, be warned and be careful.

I saw a high schooler up for expulsion for an internet conversation about a teacher where my client said something supportive to a student who was upset.  She ended up being recommended for expulsion.  Be warned, the internet is being monitored by schools and districts for expulsion material.

I have also seen students with a long history of discipline issues NOT put up for expulsion, while other students with a first offense were placed up for expulsion for the maximum term.

Now of course, I often resolve or negotiate these situations and solve many problems, but the mere fact that students are even being put up for expulsion for e.g. making their fingers look like a gun is startling to say the least.

Be careful out there.

[This communication may be considered a communication/solicitation for services]

Best,
Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-444-9064
Fax: 916-444-1209
Website: http://www.edlaw4students.com/
Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page [http://edlaw4students.blogspot.com/]. 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.

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