Okay- you are going along in life, minding your own business. Your kids are fine, attending school, seem to be able to read and all is right with the world when suddenly, you receive a letter, call, or see sky writing telling you that your son who attends Local High School is now INVOLUNTARILY TRANSFERRED to the... CONTINUATION SCHOOL! Can the district do this? Yes they can, provided they jump through a few hoops.
First hoop: per California Education Code section 48432.5 notice of the intent to involuntarily transfer cannot come by sky writing, but must come via written notice. In other words, you receive a letter which must state that an involuntary transfer is pending, but that you have a right to request a meeting with a school district representative. Note this meeting will not just occur- you have to request it. Please do.
Second hoop: If you request the meeting, at that meeting, you will be informed of the basis for the involuntary transfer and "shall have the opportunity to inspect all documents relied upon, question any evidence and witnesses presented and present evidence on the pupil's behalf."
I would recommend you ask for any documents PRIOR to the hearing along with the basis for the transfer, witnesses who may be called, etc. Otherwise, how can you present your defense?
Third hoop: The transfer must be based on the fact that the student committed a suspendable act or that they have been habitually truant (reported truant on 3+ occasions - see Ed Code 48262) or irregular in attendance (see my other blog on truancy).
Fourth hoop: The decision to actually involuntarily transfer, or not transfer, a student to a continuation school must be in writing. In other words, you get a second letter. This letter must indicate if the transfer will be periodically reviewed, the procedure for review, and the facts supporting the involuntary transfer.
Fifth hoop: No one making the decision can be on the staff of the school which is kicking the student out.
Sixth hoop: This is to be something done only after "other means fail to bring about pupil improvement." However, even with a first suspension a student may be involuntarily transferred if their presence presents a danger to "persons or property or threatens to disrupt the instructional process."
Seventh hoop: The involuntary transfer can't go longer than 2 semesters including the current semester unless the policy of the district allows for only yearly review.
If they do not jump through all the hoops you may be able to attack the involuntary transfer for not meeting legal requirements.
Also, please note that you should check your school district's policies on involuntary transfers as well, which might offer even more hoops and an appeal process. Hope this helps!
Education Law Attorney
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814