DuPage County School Law Attorney
If you have received a notice that your child is subject to disciplinary action from their school, this is a matter that must be taken seriously. If your child is expelled, they may have trouble being admitted into another school, putting their academic career and their future in jeopardy. If your child is facing a suspension or expulsion, you need an experienced Illinois school law attorney by your side aggressively advocating for your child’s rights and best interests.
At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, our attorneys have extensive experience helping students who may have made a mistake get their lives back on track. Attorney Stacey McCullough and Attorney Lindsay Stella handle our school law cases. Attorneys McCullough and Stella are seasoned litigators with in-depth knowledge of Illinois statutes and the school system. They are skilled, tenacious, and compassionate student advocates, and they work closely with parents and students to ensure the most favorable outcome possible in school disciplinary proceedings.
The Disciplinary Process in Illinois Schools
The school board establishes policy guidelines on the administration of pupil discipline with the assistance of a parent-teacher advisory committee, and in accordance with state and federal law. A copy of these guidelines must be furnished to the parents or guardian of each pupil within 15 days following the start of the school year, or within 15 days after classes begin for a transferring student. Many school districts also post-disciplinary guidelines online.
Teachers and most other licensed educational employees and persons providing student-related services are charged with maintaining discipline in Illinois schools according to the established policy guidelines. When a disciplinary matter arises, school districts are given wide discretion in suspending and expelling students. However, students have a right to a hearing and an attorney to represent them at the hearing. If the school board renders an unfavorable ruling, you may go to court to prevent an expulsion.
Illinois School Suspensions
A suspension is the removal of a student from school for 10 days or less. The day the student is suspended counts as a full day, even if the suspension occurs in the afternoon. There are many types of conduct that may be grounds for a suspension, including but not limited to:
- Bullying (e.g., threats, intimidation or violence);
- Possession of cigarettes, a cigarette lighter, or other substances;
- Doing damage to school property;
- Drug possession;
- Disobeying school staff;
- Stealing or bringing stolen goods to school;
- Pulling a false fire alarm;
- Leaving school without permission.
If a student is suspended, the parents or guardian must be notified in writing immediately with the reasons the student is being suspended, the number of days, and the right to have the suspension reviewed. If the suspension lasts for more than three days, the school must provide appropriate support services and give the student the chance to make up the work they missed for equivalent school credit.
Illinois School Expulsions
Expulsion is the removal of a student from school for more than 10 consecutive days. For most students, expulsions may last from 11 days up to two years. Reasons for an expulsion may include misconduct such as:
- Bringing a gun, knife, or another type of weapon to a school or school event;
- Use or attempted use of an object to cause bodily harm to another;
- Drug use, possession or trafficking;
- Making bomb threats;
- Sex crimes;
Before the expulsion takes effect, the school must grant you and your child the right to a hearing. The parents or guardian must be sent a written notice of the hearing by certified or registered mail stating the time, place, and reason for the hearing.
At the hearing, the school must give the reason for the expulsion and the date it will begin. You have the right to have an attorney present, call witnesses, present evidence, and cross-examine the witnesses called by the school. If you receive an unfavorable ruling, you may be able to appeal the decision to a court of law. In reviewing the decision of the school, the court examines several factors; such as the student’s history, the egregiousness of his/her misconduct, the severity of the punishment, and the student’s best interests.
Alternative Educational Options after Expulsion
If your child is expelled from school, the school district may place him/her in an alternative school. In some cases, this could occur prior to the expulsion hearing. If your child is placed in an alternative school, an education plan must be developed as soon as possible between the two schools along with a date in which the child can return to the school they were expelled from.
Generally, a student who is expelled from one public school district is not considered to be in good standing in another district. This usually leaves only two options; enrollment in an alternative school (if one is available) or enrollment in a private school. Acceptance into a private school may be difficult, however, because most private schools also require the student to produce a certificate of good standing.
Discipline of Students with Disabilities in Illinois
Before a disabled student can be expelled, a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR) must be conducted by an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. During the review, the team determines whether or not the student’s behavior results from his/her disability. If the team finds that the behavior is not a result of their disability, you have the right to appeal the school’s decision by requesting an expedited due process hearing.
If it is determined that the behavior does result from the disability, the student cannot be expelled. Instead, a functional behavior assessment (FBA) must be conducted and a behavior intervention plan (BIP) must be implemented. Parents should present any information to the school that shows that their child’s behavior stems from their disability. This may include information from a doctor or therapist your child may be seeing.
Speak with an Experienced Naperville School Law Lawyer
School suspension and expulsion proceedings are complicated, and parents and students face an uphill battle in ensuring that they receive a fair hearing. At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, we understand what you are facing, and we put our experience to work to provide the skilled representation you deserve. For a personalized consultation with Illinois school law attorney Stacey McCullough or Lindsay Stella, contact our office today at 630-665-7300. From our law office in Wheaton, IL we serve clients throughout DuPage County, Kane County, and Kendall County.