7015 College Blvd. #375
Overland Park, KS 66211

913.345.2555—Office
913.302.0152—Cliff
785.979.7361—Andrew

Office Hours:
Mon.-Fri. 9:00am - 6:00pm (CST)

cac@studentrightslawyers.com ad@studentrightslawyers.com

Thursday, May. 23rd 2019

STUDENT RIGHTS LAWYER – K-12 PUBLIC SCHOOL DISCIPLINE UPDATE

Schools in the “Old Days” conjured images of “reading, writing, arithmetic” and receiving School Discipline in the form of writing 100 times on the blackboard: “ I will not throw Spitballs.” Today’s default discipline recommendations are much harsher and much more likely to reflect the “Zero Tolerance” policies for a variety of student behaviors such as fighting, weapons possession, drug possession and threats of violence.

However, disciplinary issues may also be for less dramatic behaviors, such as throwing a mechanical pencil which unintentionally hit a teacher; telling another student to leave you alone or you will poke him with a safety scissors (3rd grade student); joking to another 8th grade student that there will be a “surprise” at 2nd session lunch but “since you have 3rd session lunch, “you will be okay.”

All of these listed behaviors share one thing in common: THEY ALL INVOLVED A RECOMMENDED 186 DAY SUSPENSION.

STUDENT RIGHTS LAWYER RECOMMENDS PARENTAL AWARENESS

Parents are urged not to be naïve about the consequences when you receive a school district letter announcing a hearing to be held regarding school discipline for a potential long-term suspension/expulsion. While state law and federal law provide for “due process style” hearings before more than a 10-day suspension can be imposed, simply showing up at your child’s long-term suspension/expulsion hearing is often a trap for the unwary.

There are not only school district policies to be aware of, but also state education department statutes and regulations governing every aspect of school discipline. Without a working knowledge of the rules, you may fail to demand the School Resource Officer (SRO) report about your child; or the principal or vice principal’s report and recommendation for discipline. Parents need to be familiar with their child’s rights to question school witnesses and to present evidence relevant to the alleged event as well as the appropriate sanction.

MANIFESTATION DETERMINATION HEARING

Special rules for school discipline apply for students with disabilities and I have written previously about the MANIFESTATION DETERMINATION HEARING, to establish if there is cause and effect of a child’s disability and the prohibited conduct. If so, the suspension is limited to 10 days. Even if there is no documented disability contained in an IEP or 504 Plan, a thorough psychological evaluation of a student may mitigate the severity of the recommendation or mitigate the sanction imposed by the disciplinary committee hearing the case or the recommendation of the hearing officer.

School threats are such a widespread topic for disciplinary hearings and it is very typical for students in the 12-15 year age category to make foolish statements in a text message or on social media. If the comment in any way sounds like a threat, it will be treated as a threat and likely to bring about a long-term suspension/expulsion of up to 186 days.

PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT

A clinical or forensic psychologist can conduct psychological testing and interviewing to assess whether there is a real threat involved and provide an expert opinion about whether the student is a danger to himself or others. This opinion is critical to reducing the level of concern at the school discipline hearing.

Students, and their parent, in K-12, in both public and private schools, face a challenging array of problems that can jeopardize a student’s educational opportunities as well as the student’s right to fair treatment.

EXPERT K-12 REPRESENTATION

I have represented students and their parents in a wide range of matters, including:

  • Bullying
  • Weapons Possession
  • Drug Possession
  • Social Media Violations
  • Threats of Violence
  • Acts of Violence
  • Insubordination

The expert representation of students in K-12 involves having a thorough knowledge of school Due Process Rights and Principles, as well as having experience in school district processes and engaging with school district counsel to explore acceptable outcomes, or to advocate for the student at a contested hearing.

 

MY PRACTICE IN THIS AREA IS LIMITED TO THE GREATER KANSAS CITY AREA IN BOTH KANSAS AND MISSOURI.

 

CLIFFORD A. COHEN, STUDENT RIGHTS LAWYER

7015 College Blvd. #375
Overland Park, KS 66211

FREE Initial Phone Consultation:  913 345-2555

EMAIL: cac@ksmolaw.com

 

 

 


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