The Constitution of the United States has several guaranteed rights: life, liberty, property, among others. Learning and understanding the Constitution is not just applicable to history class for some students. The Supreme Court, in Goss v Lopez, 419 U.S. 565 (1975), has stated that due process is not just a right granted to those charged with crimes. It also applies to school disciplinary actions. The 14th Amendment provides Michigan students with the right to attend school, which in turn requires schools to provide notice and an opportunity to be heard if a student has committed a school violation and is facing suspension or expulsion.
Michigan school districts follow the Revised School Code. Under the Code, suspensions, expulsions, and permanent expulsions carry different length penalties. The more severe the penalty, the greater hearing rights become. Each school board is given the power to create their own local discipline policy and their own punishments, albeit within reason.
The Michigan Department of Education recommends oral or written notice to the student in situations involving a suspension of 10 days or less. The notice should include what disciplinary measures are going to be taken and give the student a chance to respond. Students facing a more serious suspension require a hearing and the school must provide additional time for the student to prepare for that hearing. Whoever is presiding over the hearing must be impartial to afford the student a fair hearing. There are also situations in which a teacher may suspend a student for one day if the teacher believes the student is posing a safety threat. These suspensions are called “snap suspensions”, which do not require notice prior to the suspension.
As a parent, if your son or daughter has been or is facing a suspension or expulsion, it is vital to know your child’s rights. Do not let the school board punish your child without being given a chance to be heard. Often times, students have the legal right to explain themselves. It is not as simple as a teacher or principle telling the student they can no longer come to school. If your son or daughter is facing school discipline, contact an experienced school discipline defense attorney today. Mr. Freeman has experience representing students in expulsion proceedings for offenses ranging from drug possession and distribution, to sexual misconduct. Contact an experienced Michigan school discipline attorney today.