Episode Thirteen: Fighting in the Cafeteria, Student Discipline: Part One

Joined by Christina Peer, a partner at Walter | Haverfield, Lisa and Miriam begin a three-part series on discipline. In today’s episode, we explore the due process rights all students are entitled to and take a look at some common challenges that school districts encounter in meting out disciplinary consequences. Imagine a group of children fighting in the cafeteria. You’ve decided that Bobby is the troublemaker and would like to suspend him immediately. What steps must you take first? What are your deadlines? What will courts look at if Bobby’s parents challenge your decision?

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Miriam: Welcome to Class Act: Updates in Education Law. I’m Miriam.

Lisa: I’m Lisa.

Miriam: We’re Attorneys at Walter Haverfield in Cleveland. We practice school law. Every few weeks we get together, we talk about the most recent legal developments in education relevant to school boards, administrators, teachers, just anybody who works in education.

Lisa: If you’ve been listening to us for a while you’ve noticed that we’ve changed our name. We’re still the same great podcast but now with a jazzier name, Class Act. Today we’re going to start our series on discipline by talking about some discipline concepts in general terms, including constitutional protections some required procedures that all students are entitled to as well as some common problems that school districts face that you’ll definitely want to avoid.

Miriam: All right, and here’s something exciting about today we have with us, Christina Peer, a partner at Walter Haverfield and she frequently advises school boards on discipline issues. Welcome Christina.

Christina Peer: Thank you guys so much for having me, I really appreciate it’s nice to be able to sit down and chat with you guys today.

Miriam: Excellent, first I think it’s a good idea. We’re going to talk about the general background to how school districts must handle discipline and then we’ll get into the nitty-gritty. We’re going to talk about some general procedures and practices that apply to all students Nationwide and of course, we’ll also touch upon some regulations from Ohio.

Lisa: Christina, let’s say there’s a cafeteria fight and a couple of students are involved, can the school principal just suspend say Bobby who was in the fight for three days and then can the principal expel him?

Christina: Well, okay, the answer to that is yes and no. It’s a typical lawyer answer. The answer is yes a principal has the authority to suspend a student but the student is entitled to certain due process and procedural protections that have to be provided first, that’s the answer to one question. The answers to your question about expulsion is no, a school principal does not have the authority to expel a student in Ohio. Only a school superintendent is able to do that.

Lisa: We’ll dive into some of the details about that as we go along.

Miriam: Let’s talk a little bit about the constitutional due process procedures that I think you just referred to a little bit. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Christina: Sure, basically the right to public education is a constitutionally protected right for students. It’s a privilege that can’t be taken away without some form of due process. In other words, the school principal can’t simply just say to a student, “You’re going to be suspended”, without giving the student some kind of procedure a chance to explain what happened and the principal doing an investigation and really delving into that.

The school is a government entity and because of that, again, like I said it’s a constitutionally protected right so the government entity the district has to afford these constitutional protections before they suspend or before they expel a student otherwise the discipline would essentially be illegal and you wouldn’t be able to carry through with it.

Lisa: Basically the standard for discipline when we talk about it in a legal framework is that it can’t be illegal, unconstitutional, arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable and it must be supported by a preponderance of substantial, reliable and probative evidence based on the record. It’s basically a more likely than not standard when we’re getting into evolved in the analysis.

Christina: Right. I think the thing to keep in mind is that’s a really different standard than what people might be used to criminal law because sometimes people want to try to equate like, well, a student violated the student code of conduct so that’s like a crime at school but it’s not it’s a very different standard.

Miriam: It’s not beyond a reasonable doubt.

Christina: That’s exactly right so it’s a lower standard that you have to meet as a school district.

Miriam: More likely than not is, basically 51%. What Lisa just referred to, these are the issues that courts look at when they are reviewing whether a school’s discipline was appropriate, was it unconstitutional, was it random, arbitrary and was it supported by a preponderance of the evidence?

Lisa: This developed back about 1975, Miriam. Didn’t?

Miriam: In the middle of the 1970s, it’s a great case, it’s right out of Ohio and called Goss V Lopez. It went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. These Ohio kids were suspended for 10 days. They had no notice, they had no hearing, they basically did not have any of the protections that Christina just mentioned. The Supreme Court held that 10 days is very significant. It’s a significant deprivation of the fundamental property right of Education. It held that because it’s this deprivation because they’re losing this fundamental, right, the students were constitutionally entitled to a notice and to a hearing basically to present their side of the story. 10 days or less in the end, 10 days require some notice and an opportunity to explain their version.

Lisa: That notice and hearing you’re going to hear us talking about more in detail. Let’s get down to some of those details of what are involved in these procedures. We know that students have these constitutional rights and are entitled to notice and a hearing but what are the other statutes that kind of flesh out what this practically means in application for our districts.

Christina: Is it okay with you guys if we use an example, maybe that’s a little bit easier for people to understand, does that work?

Miriam: Absolutely.

Christina: Let’s go back to your cafeteria fight Lisa because I think that’s a really good place to start. We have two students who are involved in a fight in the cafeteria fighting is a violation of the student code of conduct and that’s something that you have to be aware of because you can’t discipline a student for something if they haven’t received notice that what they’ve done is potentially a violation of the student code of conduct. That’s one of the rights they have that there’s notice that what they’ve done is potentially a problem.

In Ohio the specific statute that you have to follow is the Ohio Revised Code section 33,13:66 and that basically sets out all of the procedures that you’re going to have to utilize for notice and hearing. It’s probably the same in any other state because the constitutional protections and the due process are going to be similar no matter where you go.

Miriam: Absolutely.

Lisa: So notice and hearing.

Christina: Let’s talk a little bit more about that. The principal is going to do an investigation of this fight in the cafeteria and after the principal does his or her investigation, he’s going to say, “All right. I think that Bobby is the student who started the fight in the cafeteria and I think I might be looking at discipline.” The principal brings Bobby in and says to Bobby, “I am looking at this fight in the cafeteria. I am going to give you what’s called a notice of intent to suspend,” which is just a written notification that says you might be suspended for this misconduct.

Lisa: In Ohio, it’s a it’s important that it’s in writing.

Christina: Correct in Ohio it absolutely has to be in writing and is a specific form that the principal fills out and the other piece of that’s really important is that the form itself includes the areas of the student code of conduct that the student has potentially violated so that goes back to the notice that Miriam talked. It’s not just, “I’m going to suspend you,” it has to be, “and these are the places in the code of conduct that I think you violated.”

Miriam: Let me just ask you Christina, Lisa, in your experience do school districts typically include more than one violation, I’ve heard that sometimes it’s a good idea just to list everything that could possibly be included.

Christina: In my experience school districts either do one or the other of two things, probably neither is exactly good. Sometimes they don’t list enough, kind of as you alluded to they only list one the thing when maybe the student actually violated like four different sections of the code of conduct. They need to make sure they list all of the things that the student violated, on the other hand, don’t list things that don’t make any sense because sometimes school districts, it’s like they threw the entire kitchen sink on to the notice and then later when they’re asked to explain. Well, how was this disruption of school or how was this repeated acts of misconduct or any of those things? They’re like, “Well–”

Lisa: If you can explain it, don’t be putting it in writing in the notice. One of the other things I wanted to clarify for the notice piece, most of our students are generally minors, the notice here we are talking about giving it to the student not to the parents.

Christina: Correct, this goes to the student because student discipline or school discipline is something that an administrator is able to do without contacting the student’s parents in most cases. If your particular school district has a board policy that says otherwise, then you’re going to want to make sure you contact the parents but for most districts in Ohio that is not part of their board policy.

Lisa: You just mentioned board policy. That was something I wanted to touch on too, we talked about that a lot in our previous episodes and it’s just as important here while we going through what’s required in the statute board policy might have some other specifics that tie into these steps as well so you need to know what’s in your board policy.

Miriam: All right so that’s the initial notice to suspend or notice to expel.

Christina: notice of intent to suspend, we’re not on to an expulsion yet. This is just the suspension stage so after the administrator gives the student this written notice then they have to say to the student this is your opportunity to tell me what happened. Tell me your side of the story that is an informal hearing. I don’t think it’s what people typically think about is a hearing because it really isn’t very formal. It’s literally just a conversation between the school administrator and the student but from a procedural standpoint it is one of the most important and frankly one of the most messed up or overlooked steps because the student absolutely has to have their chance to tell their side of the story after they receive that formal notice of intent to suspend. Sometimes principals will say, “Well, I did an investigation. I already talked to the students, do I really have to talk to them again?” Yes, yes, you do.

Miriam: Again, this is with the student not with the parent, the parent doesn’t have to be there at this point yet.

Christina: Correct.

Lisa: There’s no attorney, there’s no cross-examination, it’s very informal.

Christina: Very, very, very informal, the student doesn’t have the right to bring anybody else in or to call witnesses or any of those things. It’s just a conversation between the student and the administrator, but like I said, if you skip that step it is an almost 100% certainty that if the parent or the student appealed the discipline, it’s going to be overturned. That step is that important?

Lisa: Okay. Wow.

Miriam: There’s also another type of writing that the student’s going to get at this point then, right?

Christina: Sure.

Miriam: After we do this investigation and inform them that they might be suspended.

Christina: Right. So after you do the hearing, then the building principal has to make up their mind and say, “All right, so I’ve listened to the student’s side of the story. Do I still think that’s a suspension is warranted?” If the answer is yes, they’re going to let the student know that they’ve been suspended. Then they need to send a formal letter out to the student and to the student’s parents, letting the student know you are going to be suspended for this many days and for these violations of the student code of conduct. Again, it’s important to list which pieces of the code of conduct the student violated. Then that kind of ends the suspension process from the building administrator’s standpoint, the parent or student then has a right to appeal that if they’re displeased with the decision.

Lisa: It’s important, right? It’s important to when you’re listing the violations of the code of conduct, to make sure they match up with what you previously listed on the notice to intent.

Christina: Absolutely. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen districts mess up that step and I’m going to tell you how they do it. It’s called cutting and pasting, right? When they do the formal letter, sometimes the person who’s doing the formal letter either doesn’t read the notice of intent to suspend properly and/or they’re cutting and pasting from another letter and they don’t do all the cutting and pasting the right way. If you’re a building administrator listening to this and your secretary is the one who’s responsible for putting these together, that’s great. That’s not a problem. You just need to go back and make sure you review it in the end, to make sure everything lines up.

Miriam: Right. It’s those details that get districts caught up ultimately.

Christina: Absolutely.

Lisa: So Christina, you just mentioned that parents can appeal. Can you tell us a little bit more about that process? Maybe?

Christina: Sure. In Ohio, if a parent is displeased with the decision to suspend a student, then they can appeal that decision to the Board of Education. They do that by putting a notice in writing. Usually, it goes to either the superintendent’s office or the treasurer’s office, but that’s something that’s handled in board policy by individual districts. The parent simply says they want to appeal the decision and then they have a right to a hearing either before the board of education, the full board, or before a designee that the board has appointed to hear disciplinary appeals.

These appeals are much more formal. So there’s a right to bring representation, whether it’s a legal representative, like a lawyer, or whether it’s somebody else that you want to bring as support. There’s a right to call witnesses, there’s a right to cross-examine witnesses. The district needs to make sure that it has all of the documentation that it wants the hearing officer, whether it’s the board or this designee, all of that documentation has to be there for them to review and to consider. Additionally, all the witnesses have to be sworn in and the testimony needs to be recorded in some manner. It can either be through a court reporter or through an audio recording, it doesn’t matter but that just kind of highlights the difference between this informal hearing with the principal, which is just conversation versus this more formal appeal hearing, where we’re literally doing things like swearing in witnesses.

Miriam: Yes, absolutely and generally the board policy is going to give some details to about when the decision needs to be made. If it needs to be put in writing those types of things, right?

Christina: Correct. Decisions always need to be put in writing but you’re right, board policy would usually give some details about how long you have to make that decision. Interestingly enough, at least in Ohio, there’s no time period for when an appeal has to be heard. I think that’s because most of these do go to boards of education and boards are not required to hold a special meeting just for a discipline appeal. If it’s going to be three weeks before the next board meeting, well, then you’re waiting for that three weeks. Most of the time, the suspension is probably over long before the appeal actually gets heard. An important point is the discipline continues even if the parent decides to file an appeal. It’s not like it stops and you wait for the appeal.

Lisa: Yes, so we see appeals a lot to when it’s for an expulsion, where that’s a longer time frame to work with. So if we had an example other than the fight, say the student did something that was more severe like selling drugs. Can you explain how the due process protections are a little bit different?

Christina: Sure, for an expulsion, what would happen in that case, a student selling drugs at the high school, probably what’s going to happen is that the building principal is going to suspend the student for 10 days because it’s within his or her purview to do that and then make a recommendation for expulsion to the district superintendent. Remember, like we talked about at the beginning, only the superintendent has the authority to actually expel a student. In Ohio an expulsion is any removal from school and it can go up to it’s more than 10 but up to 80 days. So any place between day 11 and day 80 is going to be your period of expulsion.

When that happens, the superintendent’s office is required to send out a notice to the parents and set a hearing before the superintendent. That hearing has to take place no less than three and no more than five school days. From the date that the notice came out. Again, in Ohio, it’s a very specific statutory timeline that you have to meet that five-day time period can be extended, but only at the request of the parents. So the school is always expected to be ready to operate within that time. Parents can ask for an extension and sometimes they do because they can’t get time off work to show up to the hearing or because they want to get legal counsel or things like that.

Miriam: Right. So if Susie is selling drugs and the mom says, “Hey, I can’t make it on day three, or I can’t make it even on day five. I’m busy, I have work.” I can show up maybe on day seven or eight.

Christina: Yes, then the district would be able to say sure because Susie’s mom asked for that extension, we’ll go ahead and grant that and we’ll try to schedule the hearing at a time that’s convenient for her too.

Miriam: That’s important to document, I think one of the things Lisa and I talk a lot about is documenting. Documenting everything is not just enough, to have this conversation verbally.

Christina: Absolutely. I would say if you’re a school district, then you want to make sure you get from the parent in writing their request for the extension of time. Then also you’re going to document and writing back to them with a formal letter saying we received your request and we’re granting it. Therefore, we’re going to schedule the hearing on this other day that we’ve maybe come to a mutual agreement on.

Miriam: Okay, so ladies, how does the superintendent hearing go? What does that actually look like?

Christina: It’s a little bit like the hearing before the principal. You know how we talked about with the suspension, you have this informal hearing. It’s not necessarily formal. You don’t have swearing in of witnesses or anything like that. Basically, it’s a chance for the superintendent to say to the students, Susie in this case. “Susie, tell me your story. What’s going on? Did you sell drugs at school? Did you not sell drugs at school?” If Susie says, “Yes, I sold drugs at school,” right? It’s a pretty easy answer. If Susie says, “No, no, no, no, no, it wasn’t me.”

Miriam: I think that’s what happens most of the time.

Christina: I think most of the time, yes, absolutely. Then the superintendent has to make harder decisions about, all right, well, do I really believe Susie and how credible was her story and that kind of thing. Even if the student says, “Yes, it was me, I did it my bad.” The superintendent still has to make a decision and say, well, how bad was this? Is this a kid who was a good kid who’s made one mistake? And I want to weigh that when I’m trying to decide on a disciplinary consequence? Or is this pretty much a bad kid who’s made well a ton of mistakes and this just happened to be the worst one lately that’s ended them up in my office?

Miriam: So we look at the history, we look at the child’s history.

Christina: Yes, typically speaking, I think superintendents do that because you want to make sure that the punishment fits the crime, if you will. Right. Right. You know, so did they just make one stupid decision or is it just the last thing in a long series of them? All right, so let’s say we expel Susie because, selling drugs at school, pretty serious thing. Don’t like to have drugs at school. So as Susie gets expelled superintendent decides, I’m going to expel her for 80 days, this was a really bad offense.

Susie’s parent can then appeal that decision, to the Board of Education. That’s where the appeal goes and again it can either be to the whole board itself or to a designee that the board appoints. Different districts do it different ways, that hearing to the board, like the suspension appeal hearing to the board is a lot more formal. Again, you’re going to have witnesses who are sworn in, the right to bring a representative with you, cross-examination and a really important thing to note is that the board or the designee can only make decisions based on the evidence that’s presented to it at the hearing.

Miriam: Okay, that’s a good distinction.

Christina: Yes, it’s so important because the problem you get especially in districts that are a little bit smaller, right? Everybody knows everybody’s business. Everybody’s heard all these things, but if that story or that information doesn’t come out at the hearing, the board can’t consider it. It has to be just what’s before them at the hearing, not the rumor that I heard from my neighbor when I was at the grocery store about what Susie did at the high school, right?

Lisa: I think it’s important at that hearing then to try to elicit any relevant information.

Christina: Absolutely. Usually when I work with districts on these hearings, I try to set up a script for the board president who runs the hearing. That takes them through how should they be asking questions, what information do they need to make sure they’re getting out of this.

Because if they don’t follow the script, and they don’t provide the student with all their due process rights, again, the decision can be overturned, because the parent has the right after a board level hearing, whether it’s a suspension hearing or an expulsion hearing, after it’s heard by the Board of Education, it next goes to the Court of Common Pleas. So next, a judge is going to be looking at it. You really want to make sure, at that board-level hearing, you dot the Is, cross the Ts, and get everything together, the way you need to.

Lisa: Earlier, you talked about having transcripts from these hearings. So everything’s going to be in writing of what was said and heard, and those questions are going to be so important to pull out the relevant information that you need.

Christina: Absolutely, absolutely.

Miriam: So parents, basically, just have some so many options, so many levels that they– Where does this end? Christina, where does this end?

Christina: Never, Miriam. It never ends. Never ends. In all honesty, there’s even another level after the Court of Common Pleas. Let’s say that the parent takes us all the way to court, and the court upholds Susie’s expulsion, and then the parent says, “I am still angry and I am still upset about this,” then they can take it to the appellate courts within their district. When I say their district, I mean the geographic area of the court that covers that geographic area, and then the court of appeals has to look at it.

In Ohio, at least, that’s probably going to be the end of the road for you because the Ohio Supreme Court does not take most cases unless it’s some area of first impression, meaning a question of law that hasn’t been decided yet. That’s probably going to be the end of the line, and that’s a good thing, right?

Lisa: You can expel for up to 80 days. We all know the court system doesn’t move very swiftly. I’m imagining most of these, should they get appealed to court, by the time they’re actually heard and there’s a judgment, the kid is back in school anyways.

Christina: Without a doubt.

Miriam: What would the remedy be, what are they fighting about at that level?

Christina: Sometimes the remedy is simply, “I want this taken off my child’s record,” because maybe it’s impacting their ability to get into college or something like that. Sometimes if a student hasn’t been able to make up work, for example, and their grades have suffered, because while they were expelled, they weren’t able to make up work, that’s an issue.

Lisa: Well, that brings up a important question. Do the districts have any obligations during, say, the expulsion for the student to be able to continue to work on classwork and get credit for anything that they do?

Christina: For general education students, the answer is no. They don’t have to allow those students to make up their work. Some districts do. Just as a matter of board policy, they say, “We don’t want to keep a student from graduating, potentially,” because 80 days is a really long time to be out of school and not doing work. So the student’s not going to be able to earn credit if they’re a high school student, toward graduation, during that time period.

Miriam: I like that better. You know what I mean?

Christina: To let them work?

Miriam: Yes. I like that a little bit better because you’re covering your backside a little bit, in case something gets overturned.

Lisa: I think that’s our educator’s background coming to light for sure.

Christina: I don’t have an educator background. I’m just a lawyer. I’ll tell you, I like it better too, and I like it because what are you really teaching a kid when you’re letting them sit at home and play video games all day, with no expectation if they’re going to get any work done or do anything. It’s like vacation, right?

Lisa: Almost positive reinforcement for bad behavior.

Christina: Right. I’ll go sell drugs again at school because that was so awesome. I got an 80-day vacation last time.

Miriam: Interesting. Yes, that’s right. That’s right. Okay. Basically, I think it’s a little confusing all of these steps. Basically, I think it’s important to remember you’re going to have notice in the beginning. Then you’re going to have this informal conversation, we’re calling it a hearing, either with the principal for a suspension or with the superintendent for an expulsion. This is just the first part, is just to let the students say his or her peace. After that, the parents appeal, but it’s still at the administrative level.

They appeal to the board or a designee, and this appeal hearing is much more formal. It might involve attorneys. It’s going to involve sworn witnesses. After that, in between all these steps, you’re definitely still getting notices, and then afterwards, the parents still can appeal to the Court of Common Pleas, and then the appellate level after that. They can also ask, they can ask the Supreme Court to hear it. It’s really a process, really a long process.

Christina: It can be a very, very long process. Something that I didn’t mention before that I probably should about this board level hearing, parents have the right to request that that be in what’s called executive session. So it’s not a hearing that It takes place in public, it’s a hearing with just the people who need to be there in the room. So the board members, the members of the administration who are going to be providing testimony or evidence, and then the students and the student’s family, and any legal representatives who might come. It’s not like we’re having this, and it’s literally in the school auditorium, and it’s being broadcast on the public channel.

Lisa: No. Don’t do that. Don’t do that, just don’t do that.

Christina: Parents do have that right, to make this more private, even though it is a hearing before the entire board.

Miriam Right, absolutely. For our listeners in Ohio, there have been some changes to our revised code that we mentioned earlier, 33 13.66, and there may be some similar provisions in other states. Previously, if you were at the end of the school year, a student could say, say, there was only five days left in school and they got a 10-day suspension, they could serve the five days and then finish the rest the next school year.

Lisa: So it would carry over to the next.

Miriam: Right. That has now been restricted. If there’s not enough days at the end of the school year, they cannot carry it over, and now will have to be involved in some type of community service, instead, over the summer.

Lisa: I guess that’s because the legislature wanted a clean slate for these kids. Is that your impression?

Christina: Yes, I think that’s right, and I think they were thinking about it from the perspective of how bad would it be to literally start out the next school year by not being able to come to school for the first five days. When everybody else is getting their schedule and getting to know their teachers and all that stuff, you’re sitting at home serving out the last five days of your suspension.

Lisa: One thing that’s important with this is for the districts out there, if you don’t have provisions in your board policy for community service, you’re going to want to take this year and definitely get those in place before the end of the school year.

Christina: That’s a really good point because when the statute changed in Ohio, it was in April of this year. So it was literally right before the end of the 2016/2017 school year, and districts were scrambling like, “Oh, my gosh, what happens when I get the squirrely high school kid who, 10 days or 6 days before the end of the school year, does something really dumb? I would typically go ahead and give them a 10-day suspension for this because what they did was, well, really dumb.

Now, what do I do, because our policies don’t say anything about community service? I think in Ohio, districts are slowly updating their policies to make sure they’re going to be in compliance with the new standards, and also so that they have options in place for what these kids are going to do over the summer. That was the other thing I was hearing a lot of, it was like, “Oh, my gosh. What do we have these kids do? I have no idea.”

Miriam: What about enforcement, though, of that community service? The districts really can’t say, “You didn’t show up for community service. So I’m still going to roll over your suspension.” They’re just going to have to impose basically new discipline for not complying.

Christina: That’s right. It’s strange because the changes to the statute do say you still can’t roll over the discipline for failure to participate in the community service, but you can impose a different disciplinary consequence. Of course, the General Assembly didn’t give us any idea of what that would actually be. So everyone’s left on their own to figure that out.

Miriam: Also for expulsions, this is not the same rule. You can still roll over the remaining part of an expulsion to the following school year.

Lisa: That was what we had previously. The main change was to the suspension policy.

Christina: Correct.

Lisa: Got it.

Miriam: Good. We talked a lot. We talked a lot about the procedures. Throughout our conversation just now, we definitely mentioned some snafus, some little problems that districts run into. Ladies, have you had any other experiences that we should share with our audience, any other kind of common problems that districts face?

Lisa: Yes, let’s learn from some of our– All the mistakes.

[laughter]

Christina: It’s always good for people to be able to learn from other people’s mistakes, without having to make them on their own. I talked about one of them, but I want to mention it again, and it has to do with when the principal issues that Notice of Intent to Suspend and then has the informal hearing. Again, it’s so important to make sure you issue the Notice of Intent to Suspend and then you give the student an opportunity to explain their conduct. Even if you’ve already talked to the student, you have to make sure you give them that opportunity again.

Don’t try to be a nice person. I’m going to tell you what one of my school districts did. The assistant principal was really trying hard to be a nice guy. There was an issue with a student. The parent was involved and said, “Oh my gosh, the student is just so upset. Mr. Smith, do you really have to talk to him? Can’t you just leave the paperwork with me?” The answer is, yes, you do really have to talk to him. The principal, though, being a nice guy said, “Well, sure, mom and dad. I’ll just leave the paperwork with you.” We ended up having to go back and not suspend him because of the issue with the notice and the informal hearing.

Miriam: That’s a really good point. When you make some of these mistakes, it really can ultimately end in a total reversal of what you were intending to do.

Christina: Absolutely.

Lisa: I see this all the time districts try to be nice.

Christina: I know, and never been nice. Don’t do it.

Lisa: It just backfires.

Christina: Don’t do it. Deadlines are an issue. There are some really specific deadlines for some of these things you’ve got to be attentive to those and make sure you don’t miss them.

Miriam: Again, with your board policy to might have some additional ones that aren’t part of the revised code.

Christina: Absolutely, again, if you’re a building administrator, especially now, we’re still at the beginning of the school year, you might want to go back and just check and make sure. “Hey, am I hitting all my deadlines? Am I familiar with my board policy? Do I know what it says?”

Lisa: Okay, one of the things we’re going to talk about in a later episode is, the special education kids. Students with special education needs, IEPs, section 504 plans, they are entitled to additional protections when discipline comes up.

Here’s what I want to say ahead of time, sometimes I see that the board is not necessarily attentive to whether the child has an IEP, or has had a history of special education needs. They just go through with the standard policy and procedures that we just talked about, which is important because it does apply to all kids.

Sometimes they don’t even have a special education attorney present at a formal hearing, and that’s sometimes a problem because they skip over, or they’re not that attentive to the special education protections that we will talk about in greater detail in one of our next episodes.

Miriam: For special education students, there’s multiple avenues where you can get tripped up on top of all the complex things we talked about today that also applies. We will dive into that in our next episode, and expand on these issues and look at addressing the student discipline for those students.

Lisa: Please tune in, that will be coming up. I hope you enjoyed, we all hope that you enjoyed this episode.

Miriam: Thank you, Christina, for joining us.

Christina: Thanks for having me.

Miriam: Absolutely, please give us a high rating on iTunes. Please drop us an email, let us know what you thought. Share any other ideas that you’ve had as a school district to deal with discipline issues, as well as any suggestions that you might have for future episodes. Thanks so much, have a great day.

Lisa: The content of this podcast is provided for general information purposes only. The podcast is not legal advice, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and should not be relied upon in making legal decisions. Actions on legal matters should be taken only upon advice of legal counsel. Walter Haverfield does not guarantee the accuracy of information contained in this podcast.

[00:32:43] [END OF AUDIO]