Teachers and the Law
Explusion, Readmission & Truancy
Expulsion & Readmission
A teacher has no power to expel a disruptive or violent student from class or school. The expulsion process can be triggered only by recommendation of the principal or superintendent (or a hearing officer). Ed. Code 48915.
A teacher can, of course, present evidence and urge expulsion. Once expulsion is formally recommended, a detailed series of notices and hearings transpire prior to actual expulsion. Ed. Code 48918. Various appeals can also be undertaken to the county board of education. Ed. Code 48902-48924.
An expulsion order remains in effect until the governing board orders the pupil’s readmission. The governing board must adopt rules and regulations establishing a procedure for filing and processing requests for readmission. The governing board shall set a date, not later than one year after the expulsion occurred, when the pupil may apply for readmission to the district. However, the governing board is not required to readmit a pupil. If the governing board denies readmission, the board shall determine whether the pupil shall continue in the program initially selected for him/her or to place the pupil in another program. Ed. Code 48916,48916.2.
Upon voting to expel a pupil, the governing board may suspend enforcement of the expulsion order for up to one year and may assign the pupil to an appropriate rehabilitation program, which may provide for the involvement of the pupil’s parents. Ed. Code 48917.
Upon expulsion of a pupil for possessing, selling or furnishing a firearm, brandishing a knife, or selling drugs, the governing board shall refer that pupil to a program of study that is prepared to accommodate pupils who exhibit discipline problems which is not housed within an elementary, middle, junior or senior high school or at the school site attended by the pupil at the time of suspension. A pupil who is expelled for a lesser offense shall be placed in a similar program unless the county superintendent certifies that such program is not available, and then the pupil may be referred to a program of study at an elementary, middle, junior or senior high school. Ed. Code 48915.
The principal, the superintendent or the governing board may require a pupil to perform community service on school grounds during non-school hours in lieu of suspension or expulsion. Ed. Code 48900.6.
The principal or superintendent of schools shall immediately suspend, pursuant to due process requirements, and shall recommend expulsion of any pupil who committed the following acts at school or at a school activity off school grounds:
- possessing, selling or furnishing a firearm;
- brandishing a knife at another person;
- selling a controlled substance;
- committing or attempting to commit a sexual assault or sexual battery.
Upon finding that a pupil committed one of these acts, the governing board shall expel the pupil for up to one year, and shall refer that pupil to a program of study that is prepared to accommodate students who exhibit discipline problems and is not provided at a comprehensive elementary, middle, junior, or senior high school or at the school attended by the pupil at the time of expulsion, except a community day school. Ed. Code 48915,48915.2.
For any of the following acts, a principal or superintendent shall recommend and the governing board may order expulsion (unless the principal or superintendent finds in writing that expulsion is inappropriate):
- Causing serious physical injury to another person, except in self-defense.
- Possession of any knife, explosive, or other dangerous object of no reasonable use to the pupil at school or at a school activity off school grounds.
- Unlawful sale of any controlled substance except for the first offense for the sale of marijuana.
- Robbery or extortion.
- Assault or battery on any school employee. Ed. Code 48915(a).
In order to expel a pupil, the governing board must find that either: (1) other means of correction are not feasible or have repeatedly failed to bring about proper conduct; or (2) due to the nature of the violation, the presence of the pupil causes a continuing danger to the physical safety of the pupil or others. Ed. Code 48915.
A pupil expelled from school for the above reasons shall not be permitted to enroll in any other school or school district during the period of expulsion except a county community school, a juvenile court school, or a community day school. Ed. Code 48915.2.
After the expulsion period, a school district may permit the individual to enroll if determination is made that the student does not pose a danger to either the pupils or employees of the district. Ed. Code 48915.2(b).
Less Serious Offenses
In order to expel pupils based on other grounds for expulsion, the governing board must find that either: (1) other means of correction are not feasible or have repeatedly failed to bring about proper conduct; or (2) due to the nature of the violation, the presence of the pupil causes a continuing danger to the physical safety of the pupil or others. Ed. Code 48915.
To readmit students expelled on these grounds, the board shall hold a hearing to determine whether the student poses a continuing danger to the pupils or employees of the district. The district may request information from another district regarding the expulsion of an enrollment applicant. A parent, guardian, emancipated pupil, or pupil of legal age, shall inform the receiving school district of his or her expulsion from a previous school district. Ed. Code 48915.1.
A school board can deny enrollment to a pupil who has been expelled from another school district for the expulsion period, if it determines that the pupil poses a danger to students or employees in the school district. Ed. Code 48915.1. However, if the governing board determines that the student does not pose a danger to pupils or employees, it shall permit the individual to enroll in the district during the term of the expulsion, provided that the student has either legal residence in the district or pursuant to an inter-district agreement. Ed. Code 48915.1.
Expulsion of Special Education Students
Except where an act requiring immediate suspension is involved, a previously identified special education student may be expelled only if:
- A pre-expulsion assessment is conducted;
- An individualized education program (IEP) team meeting is held;
- The team determines that the misconduct was not caused by, or was not a direct manifestation of the pupil’s identified disability and that the pupil was appropriately placed; and
- Due process hearings and appeals are completed.
The school district shall develop procedures and timelines governing expulsion procedures for individuals with exceptional needs.
In determining whether a pupil should be expelled, the IEP team shall base its decision on a pre-expulsion educational assessment, including a review of the appropriateness of the pupil’s placement and a determination of the relationship, if any, between the pupil’s behavior and his or her disability. The team shall also consider the pupil’s health and school discipline records.
The parent is entitled to written notice of the school district’s intent to conduct a pre-expulsion assessment. The parent shall make the pupil available for the assessment. Parental consent is not required prior to conducting a pre-expulsion educational assessment or as a condition of the final decision of the local board to expel. The parent of each special education pupil has the right to participate in the IEP meeting and shall be notified of the meeting at least 48 hours in advance. The parent has the right to a due process hearing if the parent disagrees with the decision of the IEP team. Ed. Code 48915.5.
Pupils are truant if they are absent without excuse three days in one school year or tardy with- out excuse more than 30 minutes on more than three days in one school year. A school district must notify the truant pupil’s parent or guardian that the parent or guardian is obligated to compel the pupil’s attendance at school. Additionally, the notice must inform the parent or guardian: (1) that the pupil may be subject to prosecution and loss of driving privileges; (2) that alternative education programs are available in the district; and (3) recommend that the parent or guardian accompany the pupil to school and attend classes with the pupil for one day. Ed. Code 48260, 48260.5.
If a minor pupil is habitually truant, or is irregular in attendance at school, or is habitually insubordinate or disorderly during school, the school district may refer the pupil to a school attendance review board or to the probation department, if the probation department has agreed to receive such referrals. The school district must inform the pupil and his/her parents in writing of the referral, the reason for the referral, and that they are required to attend a meeting with the referring person and the agency to which referred. The pupil may be required to participate in community services. If available community services cannot resolve the problem or the pupil fails to participate in the services provided, the school district may notify the district attorney or probation officer, or both. Ed. Code 48263.
A minor who is subject to compulsory full-time or continuation education and is absent from school and away from home without a valid excuse may be taken into custody during school hours by an attendance supervisor or designee, a peace officer, a school administrator or designee, or any probation officer. Ed. Code 48264.
Upon the first truancy, the pupil may be asked to attend a meeting with the school counselor or other school designee to discuss the root causes of the attendance issue and develop a joint plan to improve the pupil’s attendance.
Upon the second truancy within the same school year, the pupil may be given a written warning from a peace officer. A record of the written warning may be kept at the school for not less than two years or until the pupil graduates or transfers from that school.
Upon the third truancy within the same school year, the pupil will be classified as a habitual truant and required to attend an attendance review board or a truancy mediation program.
Upon the fourth truancy within the same school year, the pupil may be within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court that may adjudge the pupil to be a ward of the court. If the pupil is then found to be a ward of the court, the pupil will be subject to one or more of the following: (1) 20 to 40 hours of community service; (2) up to a $50 fine for which parents are jointly liable; (3) attendance in a court approved truancy program; (4) loss of driving privileges. Ed. Code 48264.5.