In California, a student MUST be recommended for an expulsion for the following per California Education Code section 48915(a):
"1) Causing serious physical injury to another person, except in self defense;
2) Possession of a knife or other dangerous object of no reasonable use to the pupil.
3) Unlawful possession of any controlled substance...except for the first...ounce of marijuana other than concentrated cannabis.
4) Robbery or extortion.
5) Assault or battery... upon any school employee."
However, a mere recommendation for student expulsion under these sections does NOT mean the student must be expelled. Rather, the expulsion panel and/or school board has discretion to expel or not to expel the student.
There is also some wiggle room even with these types of offenses on the "mandatory" nature of a recommendation. Per the same Education Code section, for any of the above offenses, schools may decide NOT TO RECOMMEND EXPULSION IF the principal or superintendent "finds that expulsion is inappropriate, due to the particular circumstance." This opens a window for attack early on, if a parent can argue that THIS situation, student, etc. is different and and an expulsion recommendation should not be pursued. The principal and/or district may then choose not to put the student up for expulsion depending on the particular circumstances.
Education Law Attorney
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814