How to Prepare for School Expulsion Hearing in California?

GoodDayOct 06, 2009: Today, during our lunch hour, a colleague brought up the topic of dealing with a probable school expulsion. Since we are a DINK couple, we were clueless about this new domain. But some of our colleagues who have kids in school are quite knowledgeable about the topic of school expulsion in California and its repercussions.

Now a days a school expulsion mark on a kid's academic record can seriously jeopardize one's chances of being admitted to many colleges. These days, most colleges and universities (not limited to Ivy League schools only) use an online application that literally asks if there was ever a disciplinary violation by a kid at any educational institution - beginning from 9th grade to senior year at high school. Not only that the system digs further into whether there was any academic or behavioral misconduct that consequently led to probation or suspension or expulsion of the student from his/her school.

The California Education Code lists the offenses for which students can be suspended or expelled. If a student has been found to have committed any of the listed offenses, the school must provide notice to the parents in writing with details of enumerated offenses.

There are serious offenses for which school principals must recommend expulsion. Certain ones that require immediate suspension and expulsion are:
  • possessing or selling a firearm
  • brandishing a knife at another person
  • unlawfully selling drugs
  • sexual assault or attempted sexual assault
  • possession of an explosive.
Next comes a set of offenses that is defined as "serious" but they do not lead to automatic expulsion:
  • possession of any knife or other dangerous object
  • unlawful possession of any drug (except for their first offense of less than one ounce of marijuana)
  • robbery or extortion
  • assault or battery upon any school employee
  • causing serious physical injury to another person, except in self-defense.
A colleague added that these cases go to the governing board of the school, which is empowered to expel a student if they find that:
  • he or she committed the act, and
  • other means of correction have failed, and
  • due to the nature of the act, the student poses a danger to the physical safety of others at the school.
Also, nowadays schools can recommend expulsion if a student has demonstrated a pattern of behavior that has not been corrected by other means. Usually if a student surpasses 20 days of suspension for a given school year, the maximum amount permitted by law, then the school deems that the specific behavior of the student is not correctable.

The rules and regulations are mind boggling. If you are facing a hearing for school expulsion, carefully review the due protections that control the expulsion procedure to make sure your school district has followed all the required steps. In California, a decision by the governing board to expel has to be supported by substantial evidence that the student committed acts in Section 48900 of the California Education Code. A friend suggested that it might pay off in the long term to hire a California Education Attorney to represent your child. Not a bad idea, considering the fact that a child's career is at stake, and the grounding reality that our time, energy and expertise in this domain are limited.

Did you ever prepare for a child's school expulsion hearing? If yes, how did you prepare for it and what resources helped you the most? We look forward towards your comments and experiences. Thanks in advance for your cooperation and time.