No. In California, the use of suspensions and expulsions is limited and requires due process.
What are suspension and expulsion, exactly?
Suspension is a temporary removal of a student from a class or from school grounds. Your school could suspend you from a class, an activity or from school grounds, or it could place you in supervised (“in-school”) suspension. Expulsion is when the school district prevents you from attending traditional schools for a period of time.
What are my rights?
Your school can only suspend or expel you for behaviors explicitly listed in the California Education Code. For the purpose of expulsion, examples of these behaviors include:
- Selling a controlled substance
- Possessing or selling firearms
- Possessing an explosive
- Threatening someone with a knife
- Attempting or committing a sexual assault
- Inflicting serious bodily injury
Your school cannot suspend or expel you for conduct that doesn’t occur at school unless it can demonstrate that the conduct was disruptive to the educational environment.
Your school cannot suspend or expel you for “willful defiance.” You cannot be suspended for missing class or being tardy.
Your school cannot suspend you for more than 5 consecutive days or more than 20 days total per school year.
Before your school can suspend you, it must attempt other interventions in an effort to change your behavior. However, this is not required if your behavior is serious, violent or dangerous to others. Other interventions may include a conference with your parents or a referral to a counselor or to an anger management program.
You have the right to an informal pre-suspension conference, except in an emergency situation. If your school has threatened to expel you, you have the right to an expulsion hearing within 30 days. You have the right to present evidence before you are suspended or expelled.
You have the right to tell your side of the story. This includes the right to hire an attorney, to call witnesses and to request your student records. You also have the right to inspect any evidence to be used against you.
You have the right to a written final decision on your suspension or expulsion, and the right to appeal.
Leigh Law Group represents students throughout California in suspension and expulsion hearings.