Suspensions and Expulsions - What Every Parent Needs to Know if a Child is Facing School Discipline

As any parent who has ever faced this situation will tell you, it is often quite a surprise when a child is sent home from school for behavior the school determines violated its code of conduct. Most parents facing this situation have never had to deal with anything like this before. It is upsetting and it can be very stressful, especially if the removal is for more than a day or two.

Many people use the terms suspension and expulsion interchangeably, but they are actually very different, and most importantly, have different procedural requirements that schools must follow. Under Ohio law, a removal from school for ten days or less is considered a suspension. A removal for any amount of time over ten days is considered an expulsion.

Most removals begin with a suspension. A suspension occurs any time a student is removed from a regular class setting and not allowed to return without permission. This can take the form of an in-school suspension where a student is made to stay in "detention" or it can be less formal. If a student is told to stay in the office or sit with a school counselor or administrator for more than one class period, that is technically a suspension. This type of removal requires a written notice be sent home to parents notifying them of what happened and why. If the child is sent home, parents are entitled to notice and an informal hearing to discuss the removal.

Expulsions are more serious, and require more "due process." This means parents should receive formal notice and a more formal hearing before a child is expelled. Parents have the right to bring an advocate or legal representative to this hearing, and there are other requirements under the law as well. Additionally, students with disabilities have other rights under federal law that must be addressed prior to removal.

If your child is facing expulsion, this is a situation that requires a legal advocate. There are legal rights that you need to protect and students with serious offenses may also be facing delinquency charges. At a minimum, an expulsion is likely to impact your child's education for that year, and potentially into the future.

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