Dealing with a school expulsion can be stressful and emotional for everyone involved. The student who has been involved, as well as their parents and teachers, will inevitably have a range of issues to face. Due to the seriousness of being expelled from school, it is vital that the situation is addressed effectively.
Of course, it’s important to find out exactly what has happened and what the consequences are for your child or student. In some cases, being expelled from school is the final consequence of chronic disruptive behavior. For some students, however, expulsion from school is a sudden and unforeseen event.
By establishing the facts and understanding how the expulsion process works, parents can be the best advocates for their children.
Has your child been expelled or suspended from school?
Parents aren’t always familiar with the terminology used to identify school procedures. While a school suspension is a serious situation, it does not mean that your child will be unable to return to their school. Typically, a school suspension lasts for up to ten days, after which your child will be permitted to attend class. However, a school suspension may be followed by behavioral plans and subsequent behavior modification objectives.
In contrast, being expelled from school means that your child is prevented from returning. They will no longer be a member of the school community and will not be permitted to attend class, sit exams or attend extracurricular activities. While many school expulsions are permanent, some schools will allow expelled students to return after expulsion of one term or one year.
Generally, expulsion from school is considered to be the most serious form of punishment. Being permanently required to leave the school indicates that prior attempts to resolve a student’s unwanted behavior have failed.
What does expulsion mean for your child?
If your child has been expelled, they may have varying reactions. For some children, being kicked out of school is a badge of honor and something they feel will impress their peers. For others, being expelled from school is an embarrassing and devastating consequence that they didn’t think about at the time of their infraction.
Many parents will issue their own punishments or consequences when a child is expelled from school. You may feel grounding them or removing access to their electronics is an appropriate course of action, for example. While this can signify the seriousness of the situation to the student, it’s also important to consider the emotional impact that being kicked out of school can have on children.
If you feel that your child is struggling to cope in the aftermath of being kicked out of school, it’s essential to access assistance for them. This may take the form of counseling or therapeutic intervention. In addition, addressing the behaviors which led up to the expulsion from school can be productive at this stage.
Most people assume that expulsion from school will ruin a child’s future. While school expulsion is extremely serious, it does not mean that your child will be prevented from receiving an education. Regardless of the long-term outcome of an expulsion, your child can still thrive academically.
Of course, expulsion from school should be avoided wherever possible. By advocating for your child, you may find that you are able to persuade decision-makers that expelling your child is the wrong decision. If so, they will be able to continue their academic career at their current school and return to class.
How does the expulsion process work?
Before a child can be formally expelled from school, and expulsion hearing must take place. Typically, someone from your child’s school will contact the district superintendent and ask them to expel the student. At this point, the student’s parents or caregivers will be sent a date for the child’s expulsion hearing.
It is vital that you attend this hearing as it will be the only opportunity you get to advocate on their behalf. If you choose not to attend, the hearing will go ahead in your absence and the outcome of the hearing will be enforced.
At a school expulsion hearing, the school will present their case and explain why they believe your child’s school is expelled. Evidence and witnesses will be used to prove your child broke the school rules. Following this, you will have the opportunity to explain why your child should not be expelled from school. You may cite your own evidence and use your own witnesses, as well as cross-examining witnesses which were called by the school.
Whilst an expulsion hearing isn’t as formal as a court hearing, it is a legal process. Although you have the opportunity to advocate on behalf of your child, you may prefer to appoint an attorney to act on their behalf instead.
Once the evidence has been presented, each party is invited to make a final statement or closing submission. At this point, the decision-maker or board of decision-makers will consider whether your child should be expelled from school or not. Rest assured, the decision-makers will be neutral persons from either the Board of Education or from the local community.
How to appeal a school suspension and win
If your child is suspended from school, rather than expelled, you may still want to advocate on their behalf. While short suspensions do not usually require a hearing, you can still appeal the suspension. For mid or long-term suspensions, a conference or hearing may take place. Again, you are entitled to appeal the decision.
A school suspension will appear on your child’s academic record, so appealing can be beneficial. Furthermore, many schools will suspend a child whilst asking the district superintendent to expel them. For this reason, it is best to start preparing your child’s case as soon as you are informed of a suspension, conference or hearing.
If you are able to, it is often advisable to retain the services of an attorney. Due process must be followed in order for a school expulsion to be valid. Parents may struggle to understand the intricacies of this process in time to argue them at the expulsion hearing, particularly if you are also trying to uncover what happened to cause the expulsion and deal with your child’s reaction to the situation.
In contrast, an experienced attorney will have in-depth knowledge of the processes and procedures used throughout an expulsion hearing and will be able to argue your child’s case effectively and succinctly.
Of course, not everyone is able to access legal services. If you plan to advocate on your child’s behalf, you can prepare for a suspension or expulsion hearing in a number of ways.
Advocating on behalf of your child
Before you can argue that your child shouldn’t be expelled, you’ll need to know exactly what prompted this chain of events. Ask your child to explain what happened, honestly and objectively. If possible, ask them to write an account of the incident, including who was there and anything which preceded it.
Although you may be unable to retain the services of an attorney, you may be able to access free or reduced-cost legal advice. There are many lawyers who offer such services, so be sure to contact your local community advisory service.
In addition to this, you can prepare for an expulsion hearing in the following ways:
Familiarize yourself with the process
Knowing how the process works will enable you to work within it. For example, your child should not be expelled on hearsay evidence alone. If no one witnessed the alleged incident and there are no witnesses, you can argue that this violates the appropriate procedure.
Seek out witnesses
At the hearing, witnesses will be asked to give their account of what happened. Knowing what they are going to say will help you to prepare for the hearing and give you a better understanding of the situation.
Ask for relevant documents
Both sides will be invited to bring documents relating to the expulsion to the hearing. You have the right to ask for these documents in advance, so you can prepare your child’s case. Be sure to request these as early as possible and ask for copies of everything that will be used as part of the expulsion process.
Preparing your child’s case
If you are given notice of your child’s expulsion hearing, you are permitted to request a postponement. Although your child may be unable to return to school until the hearing has been completed, a postponement may give you the time you need to prepare for the hearing more thoroughly.
If you are unable to attend the hearing on the proposed date or you require additional time to gather evidence and prepare, asking for a postponement can be the best course of action. Dealing with an expulsion hearing can be difficult for parents and children but the process is designed to enable all parties to be heard. By advocating for your child at this stage, you can ensure they are able to continue their education with the minimum of disruption.