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Chicago Student Discipline Attorney

School Discipline

When we were kids, school discipline was pretty simple. If a student misbehaved he or she might be sent to the principal’s office, given detention or, in rare cases, he or she might face school suspension. Expulsion was almost unheard of. Like so much in our education system, school discipline has changed and become much more complicated – so complicated that the student discipline attorneys  are often called upon to help parents and children navigate through the school law legal system.

School expulsions and suspensions can be complicated. They can be traumatic and life changing, blemishing their school record, and negatively impacting your child’s education potential. 

School Expulsion

A school expulsion is the removal of a student from school for more than 10 days in a row. Before a student is expelled, they will usually be suspended for up to 10 days.  A student may also be expelled for other misconduct, such as: 

  • Arson 
  • Bullying 
  • Gang activity 
  • Fighting 
  • Kidnapping 
  • Possession of a weapon 
  • Making bomb threats 
  • Sex crimes 
  • Stealing 
  • Using violence, threats or intimidation 
  • Violence 

The school board has broad discretion to decide when and for how long to expel a student. Although given broad discretion in disciplinary matters, school districts can abuse that discretion according to Illinois case law if they do not consider a range of mitigating factors or comply with certain basic procedural due process requirements. 

School Suspension 
A suspension is the removal of a student from school for ten days in a row or less. The day the suspension starts counts as one full day, even if the student is suspended in the afternoon or for half a day. Schools may suspend non-disabled students for up to ten days for each serious act of misconduct. 

If a school intends to expel a student, it will usually suspend a student for ten days before holding an expulsion hearing. 

A student may also be suspended from riding the school bus for misconduct on the bus. A school bus suspension may be for more than ten days for safety reasons, and may affect the student’s ability to get to school. 

A student can be suspended for misconduct, such as: 

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

This is not a complete list of reasons for which a student may be suspended or expelled, although many of the acts of misconduct listed above could result in both suspension and expulsion. School personnel decide when and for how many days to suspend a student, but must follow the student’s disciplinary handbook. In some cases, the school may also call the police. 

The school must immediately give you notice in writing when your child is suspended. This written notice must include the reasons your child is being suspended, the number of days your child will be suspended, and a notice of your right to appeal the school’s decision to suspend your child. 

 If your child is facing school discipline you should consider consulting a school discipline attorney who understands this unique area of education law. The goal is not to avoid punishment in every case. It is simply to ensure that your school district follows both the law and its own rules and that if punishment is imposed, it is appropriate and not excessive. Contact the Law Office of William Carlos Weeden for a confidential initial conference at no cost.

Students with Special Needs

Every child is entitled to due process, even when they misbehave. In addition, children who have special education needs have special rights. While a child with special needs may be disciplined for violating their school’s code of conduct, federal and state law (including Individuals with Educational Disabilities Act) protect a special education student when the misbehavior is a manifestation of the child’s disability. From its creation, a child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) should address any special behavior intervention or support strategies that he or she might require. If problem behaviors arise after an IEP is in place, parents may request an IEP meeting to address strategies for dealing with the behavior. Our office helps parents with this process – often avoiding discipline problems before they happen. 

When a special education student is facing expulsion, a suspension for more than 10 consecutive days or a total suspension of 15 days in a school year, more protective rules come into play. In these cases, the discipline is considered a “change in placement” and special protections apply under IDEA, including a “manifestation determination” meeting to determine whether the discipline is based on behavior that is a manifestation of the child’s disability. If the behavior did arise from the child’s disability, the child cannot be expelled or suspended, and the school will be required to develop a plan to address the child’s behavioral challenges. Sometimes schools determine that a behavior was not a manifestation of a child’s disability, but the child’s parents disagree. In these cases, parents may choose to file a complaint and request a hearing to appeal the decision. Our office can  represent parents and children at these hearings to ensure that their rights are protected.

Contact Us Today

If your child is facing discipline in school don’t wait to get legal advice from a school discipline attorney. Consulting with our office  at the beginning of the process can help you avoid mistakes that could result in long term damage, both educational and financial.

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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