The school will discipline your child if it thinks that they
- broke a rule,
- make it hard for others to learn, or
- make the school unsafe.
As a result, your child may be
- removed from the classroom,
- given an in-school or out-of-school suspension, or
- expelled from school.
Remember: A school cannot require you to pick your child up from school unless they have been suspended.
Check your school handbook for more information about school discipline and your child’s rights.
Suspension is the removal of your child from the classroom for at least 90 minutes and up to 10 school days.
The school must notify you within 24 hours that your child has been suspended. Your child has the right to get homework assignments and make up all missed work and tests during a suspension. Ask the school for this work so that your child can keep up with the class.
Expulsion is much more serious than a suspension. An expulsion is the removal of your child from the school and all school activities for more than 10 school days. An expulsion can last for up to 180 school days. Try to get legal help for your child right away. If you cannot afford a lawyer, call Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320.
The school may try to expel your child if they
- endanger people or property,
- disrupt the school, or
- break an important behavior or safety rule (check your school’s handbook for a list of these rules).
The school must try to expel your child if they
- bring a dangerous weapon to school or to a school function,
- try to sell illegal drugs on or off school grounds, or
- use a deadly weapon to commit a crime off school grounds.
The school may also try to expel your child for certain behaviors outside of school.
If the school tries to expel your child, there will be an expulsion hearing.
You have the right to bring a lawyer with you to the expulsion hearing to defend your child’s rights.
If criminal charges are brought against your child because of what they did, it is very important for you to get a public defender or a private lawyer right away.
You and your child have many rights if the school tries to expel your child. For more information on expulsion and your child’s legal rights, read the legal aid booklet about School Expulsions.
Discipline for special education students
Special education students have extra protections when it comes to school discipline. If the school is considering expelling a student who gets special education services, it must first hold a special Planning and Placement Team (PPT) or 504 meeting. This meeting is called a Manifestation Determination Review. It is very important for you to go to this meeting.
A special education student cannot be expelled if
- their disability caused the behavior, or
- the behavior was because the school did not carry out the Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
Tip: Special education students who are expelled have a right to services listed in their IEPs, even if they are placed in other programs.
For more information about the rights of special education students, read the legal aid booklet about Special Education.