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Chicago School Expulsions Attorney

An expulsion is when a school removes a student from school for more than 10 days in a row. When a student is expelled, they will usually be suspended first for up to 10 days. 

Expulsion

A school may expel a student for any amount of time from 11 days to 2 years. This applies to most students. However, there are different rules for the expulsion of students with disabilities. 

An expulsion is only allowed if the school has attempted other interventions and they haven’t worked and the: 

  • Student’s presence in school would be a threat to school safety 
  • Student’s presence in school would disrupt the other student’s learning experience 

Schools may expel a student who brings a gun, knife, brass knuckles, billy club, or other weapons to school or to a school event or uses one of these items to cause harm. However, the school superintendent or the school board may modify this rule on a case by case basis. 

Reasons for Expulsion

Schools are not allowed to have zero tolerance policies. This means that a school can’t have a policy in which students are required to be expelled for certain behaviors. A student may be expelled for a wide range of misconduct, such as: 

  • Disobeying school staff 
  • Leaving the school without permission 
  • Being caught with cigarettes or lighters 
  • Damaging school property 
  • Using pagers or cell phones without permission 
  • Gambling 
  • Fighting 
  • Forgery 
  • Cheating or copying the work of another student or other source 
  • Bullying, or using threats, intimidation, or violence 
  • Gang activity 
  • Turning on the fire alarm when there is no fire 
  • Making bomb threats 
  • Arson 
  • Stealing or bringing stolen goods to school 
  • Using or bringing fireworks to school 
  • Inappropriate sexual conduct 

The school board decides when and for how long to expel a student. However, an expulsion cannot be longer than 2 years in Illinois. The school must have a policy in place to handle a student’s return to school after an expulsion or after returning from an alternative school setting. 

School Expulsion Hearings

Before expelling your child, a school must give you and your child an opportunity to have an expulsion hearing. At the hearing, the school must give you reasons for your child’s expulsion and the date when the expulsion will start.

If your child attends a non-charter public school, the school must send you notice of the expulsion hearing in writing and by certified or registered mail. The notice must state the time, place, and reason for the hearing. If your child attends a charter school, you should review the school’s disciplinary handbook regarding the school’s expulsion procedures.

In Chicago and many suburban school districts, the expulsion hearing is run by a hearing officer who decides what happened and then makes a recommendation to the school board. The school board then votes on whether or not to expel the student. In other districts, the board of education conducts the expulsion hearing and at the end of the hearing makes the final decision whether or not to expel your child.

At the hearing, you have the right to:

  • Bring an attorney or advocate
  • Call witnesses
  • Present evidence
  • Cross-examine the school’s witnesses

You should let the school know if you intend to bring a lawyer or call witnesses at the hearing. If the school records the hearing, you may request a copy of the recording after the hearing.

Even though Chicago and some school districts record or use a court reporter at expulsion hearings, they do not have to do so. If you want to record an expulsion hearing, you should notify the parties present at the hearing ahead of time.

Attendance Expulsion

A student may not be expelled for nonattendance unless they miss 15 days in a row without valid cause and the student cannot be located by the school district or the student has been located but cannot be compelled to return to school. 

In some situations, the school may also call the police. However, the school is not allowed to have their own booking station on school grounds where police detain students for criminal behavior. 

Expulsion Procedures

If a student is expelled, the school board must provide the student and parents with a written decision after the hearing. This written decision must give the specific reasons why removing the student from the learning environment is in the best interests of the school. This decision must also explain why the student was expelled for that particular length of time.

When disciplining pre-school students, schools must use other methods to better help the student:

  • Use community resources to help the student;
  • Document the steps taken to ensure that the student can safely participate in the preschool program;
  • Create a transition plan, if necessary for the student’s well-being;
  • Move the student to a different program;

If the student is a serious safety threat to other students, the school may temporarily remove them from group settings. The school must help the student return back to group settings as quickly as possible.

Throughout these processes, the school must communicate with the student’s parents or guardians.

Usually a student expelled from one Illinois school district will be considered “not in good standing” by other public schools in Illinois. While the student is expelled, he or she may either be kept out of school or allowed to attend an alternative school, if there is one. You may be able to enroll your child in a private school.

 Alternative Schools For Expelled Students

If your child has been expelled, the school district may give you the choice to send your child to an alternative school. In Chicago, you will have the choice to enroll your child in an alternative SAFE school. These schools have smaller classes and few, if any, extra-curricular activities. Sometimes these schools have waiting lists.

In some cases, the school may transfer your child right away to an alternative school. This could even happen before the expulsion hearing takes place. After the transfer, the old school and the new school must develop an alternative education plan for your child. The meeting between the schools should take place as soon as possible. You must be invited to the meeting. Your child may be invited as well. The plan developed by the schools must include:

  • The date when your child may return to their old school;
  • Educational and behavioral plans; and
  • A time period and process for reviewing your child’s progress at the alternative school.

Handling a Child’s Expulsion From School

1. Find out when the expulsion hearing is

Your child’s school cannot expel your child without first giving you the opportunity to attend a hearing to tell your child’s side of the story. This is called an expulsion hearing.

You should receive a written notice that the school district has scheduled an expulsion hearing. The notice must state the time, place, and reason for the hearing. This expulsion hearing it is important to attend.

2. Go to the expulsion hearing

The expulsion hearing is usually run by a hearing officer who decides what happened and then makes a recommendation to the school board. The school board then votes on whether or not to expel the student.

In other districts, the board of education conducts the expulsion hearing and at the end of the hearing makes the final decision whether or not to expel your child.

Even if your child did something wrong, you can give reasons why you believe your child should not be expelled. To begin, your child can give her side of the story. Then, you can argue that:

  • Your child’s conduct was not bad enough to warrant expulsion;
  • Your child should not be expelled because your child has had no history of misconduct at school;
  • Your child’s conduct did not disrupt the education of other students;
  • Expulsion is too severe a punishment;
  • Expulsion is not in the best interest of your child; and
  • If the school does decide to expel, your child should be allowed to attend an alternative program.

You have the right to:

  • Bring an attorney or advocate
  • Call witnesses
  • Present evidence
  • Cross-examine the school’s witnesses

Find out how the school board makes the final decision about expelling your child. If they decide after reviewing the hearing officer’s recommendations, you may have the chance to make one last argument to the board to stop the expulsion of your child. You should find out what the expulsion procedures are in your district, and ask to meet with the board after the expulsion hearing if this is an option in your school district.

If possible, bring a lawyer or an advocate who knows education law with you to the expulsion hearing.

3. Appeal the expulsion decision

If the school district decides to expel your child after the expulsion hearing, you should check your school district’s disciplinary handbook to determine if there is a way to appeal an expulsion decision. You can also appeal the decision by going to state court. Please consult a lawyer about how to file an appeal in state court.

Law Office of William Carlos Weeden

The information on this website has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship or warrant that a certain result will be attained in a specific case. The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois. We encourage you to contact us or another legal professional for advice regarding your individual situation.

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