Special Considerations

The federal Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 requires students to be expelled for at least a year if they bring a gun to school.

Federal laws forbid race and sex discrimination in schools. You may challenge school disciplinary action if you think it’s related to race or gender bias by school officials.

Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act students with disabilities can’t be suspended for more than 10 consecutive days unless special procedures are followed.

A disabled student has a right to testing for behavioral problems. The school may then have to provide support to help resolve conduct problems.

If you believe your child was unfairly disciplined because of racial or disability issues, you can file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. Your complaint must be filed within 180 days of the discriminatory action.

Should You Hire an Attorney?

It’s a very good idea to hire an attorney to represent your child. An attorney can help ensure that relevant information is presented to school representatives and that correct procedures are followed.

The help of an attorney is especially important if there’s any possibility of criminal charges. You child could be charged criminally for such things as assault, or alcohol, drug or weapons possession.

You don’t want your child to make statements in a school hearing that might harm a later criminal investigation. Your child doesn’t have to answer questions asked by the school or the police.

A student breaking public school rules may also be considered a neglected child. An attorney familiar with juvenile rights can help you stay out of hot water with local child or social services advocates.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What can I do if I think my child’s misbehavior at school is due to a medical or emotional disability?
  • Can you negotiate a deal with school officials to have my child do community service to avoid being expelled from school?
  • Can an attorney help even though attorneys aren’t allowed at school hearings?
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