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01. What do I do if my child is suspended?
First, you should find out from the school whether or not your child has received a Superintendentís Suspension. If your child has only received a Principalís Suspension, he or she may return to school in five days or less. If your child has received a Superintendentís Suspension, you must attend a suspension hearing where you can challenge the suspension. You should also pick up the suspension packet from the school to learn what happened and to help you decide whether to have the hearing or plead no contest.
02. What happens when my child is suspended?
The school has to give you written notice of the suspension within 24 hours of the suspension. Your child will continue his or her education at an alternative education site known as a suspension center while waiting for the suspension hearing.
03. What is the school required to do before they suspend my child with a Superintendentís Suspension?
The principal must receive the Superintendentís permission to suspend your child. Before giving permission to suspend your child, however, the Superintendent must make sure that the school followed certain steps.
04. How much time can pass between the incident and when the notice of the Superintendentís Suspension is issued?
No more than a day or two. Because suspensions are supposed to stop "emergency" situations, suspensions are supposed to be immediate. If there was a delay of more than a day or two between the incident and the suspension, argue that it was not "immediate" and that your child was no longer a danger to him/her self or anyone else at the school.
05. For what reasons can my child receive a Superintendentís Suspension?
If the principal believes that your child disrupts class or other school activities or that he or she may physically harm her/himself or others, your child may receive a Superintendentís Suspension. Suspensions should only be used in emergency situations, not to punish your child for general bad behavior. Therefore, the complaints against your child must be specific. They must include a time, a date, a place, and a brief but exact description of the incident. For examples of behavior that might rise to the level of a Superintendent's Suspension, click here.
06. What is the suspension packet?
The suspension packet contains information about the incident and other records from your childís school. Those records should include all of your childís academic reports and everything that has to do with the suspension. The school has to give the suspension packet to you if you ask for it in person, but they do not have to mail it to you.
07. What is a suspension hearing?
A suspension hearing is an administrative proceeding that allows you to challenge your childís suspension.
08. Where are suspension hearings held?
Suspension hearings are held at the suspension hearing office for the region where your child attends school. Click here for the addresses and phone numbers of the five suspension hearing offices.
09. How soon must a suspension hearing be scheduled for my child?
A suspension hearing must be scheduled within 5 days of your childís suspension.
10. Can I bring an attorney to the suspension hearing?
Yes! But it is not necessary. If you would like to bring an attorney to the suspension hearing and you are having trouble finding one, click here.
11. If I plan to bring an attorney to the suspension hearing, what do I need to do prior to the hearing?
24 hours before the hearing you must let the hearing office know that you plan to bring an attorney. If you do not, the hearing may be postponed and rescheduled. This means that your child will remain out of school until the new hearing date. It is okay to let the hearing office know over the phone that you will be bringing an attorney.
12. What does it mean to ìplead no contest?
If you plead no contest you agree to allow the Superintendent to decide whether or not your child will be suspended. You give up your right to have a hearing and you cannot present any evidence about the incident. You are also allowing the charges to go on your child's record and the only decision that will be made at the suspension hearing is what the "Disposition" of the suspension will be.
13. Does pleading no contest mean that my child says that he or she is guilty?
No. Pleading no contest does not mean that your child says he or she did the act that caused the suspension.
14. How should I decide whether to plead no contest or to have a hearing?
Pleading no contest: You may want to plead no contest if you feel that the schoolís case against your child is stronger than your childís case or if you want to end the situation quickly. You can find out how strong the schoolís case is by reviewing the suspension packet, which will have the facts relating to the incident.
Hearing: If you believe that your childís case is a strong one because 1) he or she did not do what the school is accusing him or her of doing or 2) because his or her behavior can be explained, you may want to have a hearing. You may also want to have a hearing if the school made mistakes in carrying out your childís suspension.
15. What happens if I donít receive the suspension packet?
The school is not allowed to use what was in the suspension packet at the hearing. Click here for more information.
16. Can my child receive homework and take tests while we are waiting for the suspension hearing?
Yes. Your child should be given all homework assignments and the chance to take or make up any exams while waiting for the suspension hearing.
17. What is a pre-hearing conference?
A pre-hearing conference is a meeting with the Hearing Officer that takes place on the day of the hearing but before the actual hearing starts. No one from the school will be allowed to attend this conference. The Hearing Officer is the person who will hear your childís case and make a recommendation to the Superintendent about your child. At the pre-hearing conference, the Hearing Officer will explain the charges against your child and the issues related to these charges, but will not go into detail about your childís case. The Hearing Officer will also explain your childís options.
18. I am not prepared for the suspension hearing, is there any way to postpone it?
Yes, you or the school may postpone the suspension hearing for a few days.
If you postpone the hearing, your childís suspension will continue. He or she will continue his or her education at the suspension center until the new hearing takes place.
If the school postpones the hearing for any reason, your child must go back to school. Although returning your child to his or her own school is better, you may consent to your child going to another school while waiting for the hearing.
19. What happens during a suspension hearing?
The hearing is separated into two parts, the hearing and the disposition. Click here for a chart showing how the hearing proceeds.
20. What are my rights during the suspension hearing as a parent?
You can make objections and enter evidence.
- Evidence can be objects, spoken statements or documents that help prove your childís version of what happened. All evidence must have something to do with the case. If the school presents evidence that does not relate to your childís case, you may object to it.
- An objection is a request that:
Whether or not an objection is proper depends on the Rules of Evidence. At the suspension hearing the hearing officer will decide whether or not the question or answer is appropriate.
- the school not be allowed to ask a certain questions
- the schoolís witness not be allowed to give certain answers or
- the school not be allowed to give certain evidence.
21. Can I bring witnesses to the suspension hearing to testify for my child?
Yes, you may bring any witnesses you like to the suspension hearing to testify for your child.
22. Do I have to ask the witnesses to come to the hearing?
You can ask them to come or you can have the Hearing Officer ìsubpoena?them. A subpoena is an order for a witness to testify at the hearing. You can get a subpoena from the Hearing Office by asking for one two days before the hearing date.
23. How do I decide whether to ask a witness to come to the hearing?
Talk to each person you would like to be a witness and make sure that what they will say will not hurt your childís case. An example of a good witness is one who saw what happened and knows that your child was not involved. If you want a witness to come to the hearing but the witness is not able to attend, ask them to write, sign and date a statement about what happened. You may be able to read the statement out loud at the hearing if you ask the Hearing Officer beforehand.
24. Who decides whether or not my child will testify at the suspension hearing?
Only you may decide whether or not your child will testify at the suspension hearing. The school cannot call your child as a witness and make him/her tell his/her story.
25. How do I decide whether or not my child should testify at the suspension hearing?
If your child was arrested for the same incident, the record of the hearing could be used against him or her in court. If this is the case, consider not having him or her testify especially if the criminal case is pending. Contact a criminal lawyer before making this decision. If your childís lawyer is a Legal Aid Society lawyer, you should call that person directly to let them know about the suspension.
If your child was not arrested, you should decide how helpful his or her testimony will be. Remember that your child must tell the truth if her or she testifies. This means that your child must say that he or she is guilty if he or she did what she is accused of doing. If your child does not testify the Hearing Officer is not allowed to assume anything bad.
26. Can the school search my child?
See the Advocates for Children website for information on school searches.
27. What happens if my child is charged with possession of a weapon or drugs?
See the Advocates for Children website for this information.
28. How long until my child receives a decision from the hearing officer?
Within five school days of the hearing the hearing officer must give a full written report of his or her findings and the disposition.
29. What are the possible results of a Superintendentís Suspension hearing?
Dispositions and record dispositions.
30. Can I appeal the results of a hearing officerís decision?
Yes, but it might be important to have an attorney if you need to do an appeal. You may appeal any decision by writing a letter telling why you think the decision was wrong. The letter must be sent within 20 school days after you receive the decision, or 10 school days after you receive a copy of the written hearing transcript. If you need to contact an attorney make sure that you do so well before these deadlines. For help finding an attorney you can call one of the legal organizations listed on this website.
31. Where can I find the Chancellorís Regulations online?
Click here to go to the Chancellor's Regulations.
32. Who should I contact if I have additional questions?
Contact one of the advocacy organizations listed here.