Tuesday, March 22, 2011

If Your Child Is Questioned At School, Don't Allow Them To Provide A Statement Lest They Be Expelled

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Schools may question students to investigate bullying at school, ask about fights a student has seen, or inquire about something the student may have done at school.  However, such a school investigation can end up in a student revealing something that is held against them.  How do we prevent student confessions that later end up getting them suspended and even expelled?  We educate our kids to respectfully decline to make a statement.

The problem is that kids usually feel a sense of obligation to "tell all" to authority figures.  Unfortunately, when they "tell all" to a school official and that "all" involves e.g. potential sexual harassment, threats, fights, disruption, etc., they are not hailed for their honesty, they are kicked out!

Most kids will probably be questioned at some point in their long school careers.  Parents can arm them in advance by instructing them as follows:

1)  If you are ever called into the office, be polite.
2)  If school personnel ask you questions about something you or your friends did, respectfully say: "My parents have told me that I am not allowed to answer questions without them."
3)  Ask that your parents be called.

When a parent thereafter arrives, they can talk to the school personnel without the student in the room.  Then, if it turns out the school is accusing the child of e.g. selling drugs, the parent can refuse the interview.

As an attorney for students, you don't know how many times I have shaken my head when I saw a student's written or verbal confession being used against them.  I have also seen expulsions crumble without a student confession.

Why do the school officials' jobs for them?   If the school wants to expel your kid, don't make their job any easier by handing them a confession.  Make them work for it.

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney
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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