Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Suspension Or Expulsion For Knives, Guns, Explosives Or Dangerous Objects And A Way Students CAN Have Them On Campus?

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

What will happen to Johnny if he has a gun, knife, explosive, or dangerous object on campus without permission?  We all know the usual answer, but according to the California legislature, it will depend on whether Johnny has permission to possess the item.

Under California Education Code section 48900(b), students may be suspended or placed up for expulsion if they:

"Possessed, sold, or otherwise furnished a firearm, knife, explosive, or other dangerous object, unless, in the case of possession of an object of this type, the pupil had obtained written permission to possess the item from a certificated school employee, which is concurred in by the principal or the designee 
of the principal."

So, if Johnny has a gun, sells a gun, or provides a gun to someone, he can be suspended or expelled.  Same difference with a knife or explosive, which seems fairly self-explanatory. With the "dangerous object" portion, schools may interpret "dangerous object" as covering practically anything, rightly or wrongly.  For example, a pencil, scissors, stick, book, pillow, spit, urine, chemicals, and on and on, depending on how the object were used.  As such, this code section can sometimes be stretched, properly or improperly, to attempt to meet the situation.  A parent would of course argue a pillow, book, or other common object was never a dangerous object and the intent was to cover obviously dangerous objects (nunchucks, throwing stars, etc.).

Section 48900(b) provides an interesting exception which could avoid a suspension: permission to possess a gun, knife, explosive or dangerous object (this is too good to be true!).  But, how any student would ever get "permission" to possess a firearm, knife, explosive or "dangerous object," is beyond me.  I would suggest that any child who actually had the nerve to seek permission to bring one of these items on campus, would be interrogated and searched by today's school administrators.  This would not be okay, but they would probably take such a request the wrong way and go after Johnny regardless of what the code says.

Obviously when this code was written many years ago, the legislature thought this might be possible.  The only scenario I can think of is for some kind of school play, or an authorized in-class demonstration (show and tell).  If "permission" is sought, make sure it is granted in writing and the principal signs off as well as the teacher granting the permission, or the kid could be toast regardless of the situation.

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. 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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