Suspension and Expulsion Hearings in Public and Private Schools

May 27, 2021
Students in a classroom
Here at KJK, we provide legal services for students who are facing suspension and expulsion hearings due to alleged misconduct, as well as appeals for prior rulings. Advocacy is especially important for students in grades K-12 who have not yet reached full maturity. We are proud to work with students who attend both public and private schools around the country.

There are some key differences involved in navigating the two systems, which is why a student and their family should seek out personalized advice on their situation. This is especially true when it comes to suspension and expulsion hearings, which could have critical consequences on your child’s future.

Private vs. Public School Discipline

While most public-school handbooks and school policies have similar content, private schools are allowed to have much more discretion with their rules. Private school handbooks are more often written with specific institutional goals and philosophies in mind. The rights of students are typically only derived from the school handbook and written policies, which can change depending on which institution you are involved with.

In public schools, student rights and responsibilities are not only laid out in the handbooks, but also from state law. The handbook’s code of conduct lays out expectations and rules for students, and the school must follow state guidelines for due process if they wish to discipline a student for breaking a rule. This means that the student must be notified of the alleged violation, have the opportunity to share their side of the story at the hearing, and be able to bring an attorney or advisor to the hearing, depending on the severity of the allegations.

Disciplinary action at private schools will be varied since they are not regulated by state or federal laws. The student handbook will still contain expectations and rules but private school students are not necessarily entitled to the same due process that public school students are. The signed handbook acts as a legal contract, and if a student violates the rules that are outlined, they face consequences. Nevertheless, we can provide advice, formulate a plan, gather evidence, and manage your social and academic reputation while the process plays out.

How Does This Relate to Suspension and Expulsion?

In the public school system, handbooks must include the same language about suspension and expulsion depending upon the state law. Students are only allowed to be expelled for specific types of severe behavior, that are outlined by statute and policy. There is a clear layout for what is considered behavior that requires suspension and expulsion.

In private schools, however, students can be expelled for behavior that is much less severe, since the school itself is the arbiter of what is considered unacceptable behavior. Because it does not subsist on public funds, it has no obligation to follow state laws on discipline. There are not many rights of appeal for private school students facing expulsion, and disciplinary action is usually issued quickly. Thus, if allowed by policy, it is important to have an advisor present who can develop a framework for presenting a defense.

We Advise Students of Public or Private Schools

If your child is facing suspension or expulsion for their actions, whether they attend a private or public school, you should consult with one of our experienced academic misconduct lawyers. We can walk you through your child’s rights as a student and tailor our approach to the guidelines that your specific school adheres to. Contact us today and learn what we can do to protect your child.