Blog by California student attorney Michelle Ball about education law and student rights in public and private school settings, from preschool through college. As a student lawyer, Michelle helps with school expulsion, special education, suspension, discipline, bullying, 504, sports, discrimination, student records, injury, and many other California school issues.
The Suspension Extension Meeting And What To Expect
Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
After a student is suspended from school for a serious offense, his or her parents may be informed that another meeting will take place, usually at the school district or with district officials. Sometimes schools wrongly call this an "expulsion hearing," which worries parents unnecessarily, sort of like when your child is out driving your car and a cop calls, asks if you own that car and hangs up without telling you why they asked that scary question... Rather than a car wreck, this first meeting, (unless formally noticed as an expulsion hearing with written notice mailed out 10 days prior) is only asuspension extension meeting.
A suspension extension meeting occurs during the initial suspension time period, (the first 1-5 days the student is out of school on suspension), to prevent the student from returning to school when the initial suspension concludes. This meeting usually only occurs when the Principal has already recommended expulsion and it is moving forward to hearing. [Please note: "suspension extension meeting" is not its "official" name and it can go by various titles.]
Here is what should happen at a suspension extension meeting:
1) District administrator and family meet to discuss the situation. A school official may also be there.
2) Administrator is supposed to make an actual determination as to whether the:
"Presence of the pupil at the school or in an alternative school placement would cause a danger to persons or property or a threat of disrupting the instructional process." [California Education Code §48911(g)]
3) If the student does not fit the above, their suspension is not supposed to be extended and they can be placed back at school or at an alternative site.
Usually what occurs is that the child and family are told:
1) Your child is up for expulsion.
2) He or she must stay home until the hearing.
3) The hearing will be scheduled and/or the expulsion hearing is on X date.
4) No determination is made regarding dangerousness, at least not with the parents input.
5) The family may also be handed any evidence gathered, but this does not always occur.
6) Sometimes the family is handed an agreement and pressured to sign it. Parents are wise to take the agreement and review it with legal counsel.
7) Sometimes arrangements are made for attendance at an alternative site/program.
A non-dangerous/non-disruptive student should be moved into an alternative educational environment for an "education" while the expulsion hearing is pending. However, sometimes administrators assert, based on another Education Code section (§48913), that no work has to be provided during suspension. I take strong issue with such a statement. The legislature never intended actually non-dangerous students up for expulsion to sit out of school for up to 30 schooldays doing nothing but twiddling their thumbs.
The one thing this meeting is sometimes good for is negotiating outcome, but to accomplish a decent outcome, usually legal counsel needs to be involved. It is not often that I see administrators offering up good deals at these meetings when legal counsel is not there. Rather, I see parents arrive at my office with cruddy deals for the worst possible punishments which they were pressured to sign or else "go to hearing!" Sometimes hearings are necessary when the only other option is terrible.
Hope this clears up the muddy waters a bit.
Education Law Attorney
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
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Sacramento, CA 95814
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