Friday, July 22, 2011

When Schools Veer Way Off The Path and Cheat: Atlanta Philadelphia, South Los Angeles- Who's Next?

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

When I heard about the group of school districts in Atlanta Georgia purposefully altering students' state test answers to raise the overall scores and get more funding, I would not say I was surprised, but I was saddened.  Wherever there is a money motivation, temptation lurks.  If someone has low ethical standards, they can go the way of the criminal, even school administrators and teachers.  This is a good time for a reminder to all parents to be skeptical of the schools and what (and if) your children are actually being taught.  Are they really learning?

The irony from my point of view, is that during the ten years of the Atlanta districts' falsification, I would bet that many students were suspended or otherwise punished for cheating themselves.  Perhaps they were even expelled.  All by the cheaters.  It may be funny if it were a movie, with some cute star as the Superintendent, but it is not- thousands of students were cheated out of the education (however pitiful to begin with) they should have received.  

Additionally, how much do you want to bet that many students were placed in special education as a result of the situation who were simply not taught.  For, if they had such high scores, but failed all their classwork and classroom exams, there must be something awry- they needed to be labelled with a lifelong disability. No, they needed to be educated.

How many students who were told by their proud parents about their high test scores were lost in the shuffle over the ensuing years to gangs, drugs, or juvenile delinquency?  I am sure these students felt they were letting everyone down as they were so "smart" (based on their false test scores).  Sadly, they were smart, but they were not taught, so their smarts did not "come out."  

This was not the only district which was cheating...  Just last week, there were allegations in Philadelphia of potential area wide cheating... and in South Los Angeles charter schools as well.  If true, this is equally disgusting.  Who will be next?  And, if they are next, what does that mean for our children and their futures?

Something has got to change.

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.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Happens After A School Expels a Student? Can They Still Attend Some School?

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

No one likes to think about school expulsions or their child getting kicked out of school.  But what if the very worst happens?  What if an expulsion from the school district actually issues?

A child who is expelled, unless an exception is made in the expulsion decision and/or agreement, may not attend any school within the district from which they were expelled.  But, they still are entitled to an education.  Per California Education Code section 48915(d), a student who is expelled shall be referred to a program of study which meets the following conditions:

(1)  Is appropriately prepared to accommodate pupils 
who exhibit discipline problems.
(2)  Is not provided at a comprehensive middle, junior, or senior 
high school, or at any elementary school.
(3)  Is not housed at the schoolsite attended by the pupil
 at the time of suspension.

What this translates to in the real world post-expulsion, is usually a move to a continuation school.  If the school district has their own continuation school set up, the student is shuffled there.  If the district does not, the students are usually referred to the county continuation school.  These are not the places most parents usually want their child to attend, but they do work for some students in the right circumstances.  The reason they may be perceived as unsavory is, ironically, the fact that all the expelled (aka "bad") students attend these schools. Most parents do not envision their children as one of "those kids" even after they are expelled.

One good thing- usually the attendance at the assigned school is not mandatory (verify with your district), so a parent may attempt to enroll their child in another district, a charter school, a private school, or an on-line school.  Often an on-line school may be the only option, but the others may be worth a shot as well.  When applying, a parent must tell the new school they are trying to enter of the expulsion.  However, they can still attempt to persuade the school to admit the student.  A letter of their own and/or authored by their legal counsel explaining the situation, how it was flawed, etc. may be helpful.

Rather than take a shot at the expulsion hearing, and risk such a placement, it is strongly recommended that parents involve an attorney specialized in education law prior to the expulsion hearing so a more positive outcome may be sought. Expulsions are a big deal- don't chance it.


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.