Education Law

What Can Parents Do When Their Children Face School Discipline?

By E.A. Gjelten, Author and Editor
You can take action to protect your child during disciplinary proceedings at school.

If school officials are threatening your child with formal discipline measures, it can be all too easy to feel helpless—or to get so upset that you only make matters worse. In order to be an effective advocate for your child, the best thing you can do is to stay calm and stay involved in the process.

Here are some immediate steps to consider:

  • Talk to your child about what happened and who was involved. Write everything down.
  • Contact the school and ask for any incident reports or other documents.
  • Find out if criminal charges might be filed against your child.
  • Ask your child and teachers about any problems like bullying that may have led to the incident.
  • Gather evidence, including witnesses.
  • Get a copy of the school district’s policies or code of conduct to learn about the requirements for disciplinary proceedings. See if the school has a zero tolerance policy that prohibits consideration of issues like intent, self-defense, or a lack of disciplinary history. Find out how you can appeal disciplinary decisions.
  • Learn about your child’s constitutional and other rights under state and federal law. (For more information, see our article on students’ rights in school discipline proceedings.)
  • If your child has an Individualized Education Plan or has a disability, make sure that the school follows the requirements in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act.
  • Keep a record of everything connected with the disciplinary process, including a log of all contacts with school officials and copies of all letters and emails.

Go to main school discipline FAQ page.

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