Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Eight Things NOT To Do At A School Expulsion Hearing

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

As school expulsions are occurring at such an alarming rate to our children, it is important for parents to know what NOT to do when embroiled in an expulsion hearing.  

Here is what you should NOT do at a school expulsion hearing:

1)  Do not allow your child to testify.   Make the district prove their case, and don't do it for them.  One  exception could arise if your child has already fully confessed to having "done it" in writing.
2)  Do not forget to object to evidence.  If the school district attempts to admit evidence which should not be allowed into the hearing record (e.g. evidence from another student), object and ask for it to be removed.
3)  Do not get emotional at the hearing if you are the one making the arguments.  If you do not bring an attorney with you and are the one making the arguments to the expulsion panel or board,  you should not get emotional.  There is no crying or extreme emotion allowed when acting as the advocate for the child.  If a parent is testifying as a parent, emotion is fine, but not if your role shifts to the advocate making the case.
4)  Do not forget to prepare opening and closing statements and witness questions.  You must make an opening and closing statement, plus question any and all witnesses at the hearing.  However, in the heat of the moment, you may forget something, so do prepare an outline and list of anticipated questions for the hearing.
5)  Do not forget to submit documents.  Parents should submit a stack of character letters in support of their child along with any other evidence which can prove they did not do what they are accused of doing.  Gather and bring to the hearing all relevant documents and ample copies for all parties.
6)  Don't take it personally.  The school expulsion hearing may feel personal, but don't take it that way.  Act professionally at all times, or your credibility may be ruined.
7)  Don't forget the district will not "be nice" in the hearing.   Although everyone may be polite, this is war against your child.  Parents cannot go into an expulsion hearing believing it is a "light" process or procedure.  Expulsion hearings are very serious and have serious consequences.  Take them that way and you have a better chance of winning.
8)  Don't forget to bring witnesses to support your case.  Bring students or others with you to the hearing to support your case via live testimony.  If you can't get a hold of them, you need to request they be subpoenaed by the district.

These are some key items all parents going into an expulsion hearing should know.  Also, it is usually best to bring an attorney with you to the hearing, but the above should help if you are on your own.  

Best of luck in battling the lions when they come after your son or daughter.  I always tell my kids I will "slay any dragons" for them, and an expulsion is something you need to defeat, for like a dragon, a school expulsion could leave them scarred for life.

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-444-9064
Fax: 916-444-1209
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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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