Your child is facing an expulsion hearing for possessing a dangerous object. What can you do?
EXPULSION IS SERIOUS
Expulsion is serious business. A full expulsion lasts for one year. If expelled, your child faces attending a county school filled with other young adults expelled from around your area. It is not an ideal learning situation, obviously. Also, the long-term effects of an expulsion are not promising. Therefore, it is important that you take this seriously. Thus, you must do everything in your power to try to either prevail in the expulsion hearing or negotiate another outcome before the hearing.
POSSESSION OF A DANGEROUS OBJECT
Per 48900(b), a child can be suspended and recommended for expulsion if it can be shown that the student…
(b) Possessed, sold, or otherwise furnished a firearm, knife, explosive, or other dangerous object, unless, in the case of possession of an object of this type, the pupil had obtained written permission to possess the item from a certificated school employee, which is concurred in by the principal or the designee of the principal.
SPECIAL EDUCATION/504 EXPULSION PROTECTIONS
As in any school discipline case, you must determine if the law provides your child with special rights due to a disability. If your child is currently attending school with either a 504 or an IEP, they have rights. These rights are applicable to a defense for possession of dangerous object. Any defense here must show that their possession was related to their disability. Especially relevant are such things as impulse control problems, failure to understand right versus wrong, and paranoia. These things can show that the student’s actions were caused by their disability.
While not technically a defense, it can be important mitigating evidence to show that your child felt genuinely threatened by another person. Often times, when students bring weapons to school, they are doing so because they believe their safety is truly at risk. Remember that administrative panels are made of educators. They are truly concerned for student safety. If a genuine question of victimization can be raised, panel members are more likely to show compassion for your child.
Once again, while not a defense, a genuine mistake can persuade panel members to show mercy on a student. I once had a child who took his school backpack on a fishing trip. When he came back, he forgot to take the filet blade out of the front pocket. Through photographs, we were able to show that the student had no ill intent in having the blade on campus, it was there by genuine mistake. In this case, the panel decided against expulsion.
PROBABLE CAUSE TO SEARCH
While certainly a lower standard than that which the police are held to, school personnel still need to have had some cause to search a student. Any thorough defense will explore whether the administrator had such cause. Absent that, the expulsion must be dropped.
Additionally, procedural deadlines and requirements are sometimes unmet. The outcome is important. Have an individual knowledgeable in school expulsions review the paperwork, and determine whether all these important procedural requirements were met.
Finally, please do not minimize the importance of avoiding a school expulsion for your child. Keep in mind, you have a legal right to bring a lawyer to the expulsion hearing, 48918(5). Relevantly, I offer relatively inexpensive flat fee rates. Therefore, you will never be surprised by a big bill if you retain my firm to represent your child.