Alternative Educational Programs for Expelled Students

The Connecticut legislature has authorized expulsion of a student if his or her conduct, be it committed on or off school grounds, violates a publicized board of education rule, seriously disrupts the educational process, or places into danger other persons or property.[1] The expulsion may last from anywhere between ten (10) days to one calendar year,[2] which no doubt leaves parents concerned that their child may fall behind his or her peers. However, barring specific exceptions, schools must provide an alternative education program (AEP) to an expelled student.

There is very little guidance as to what constitutes an AEP. One statute states, “Such alternative may include, but shall not be limited to, the placement of a pupil who is at least sixteen years of age in an adult education program.”[3] One State Department of Education regulation focuses on home tutoring obligations.[4] That being said, boards of education have wide discretion in deciding what qualifies as an AEP and may provide one even where they are not obligated to do so.[5]

However, the circumstances under which AEPs are granted are clear-cut and fall into three age-based categories. If the student is less than sixteen (16) years of age, the school has a duty to provide an AEP at no cost to the parents. An AEP must also be provided to students aged sixteen (16) and seventeen (17), unless 1) the student was previously expelled; 2) the expulsion was for possession of a firearm, deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or martial arts weapon while on school grounds or at a school-sponsored activity; or 3) the expulsion was for the sale or distribution of a controlled substance on school grounds or at a school-sponsored activity. Finally, if the student is above age eighteen (18), the school has no duty to provide an AEP unless he or she is a special education student.

Because of the potentially adverse and significant impact a suspension or expulsion can have on a student’s future, it is imperative to seek the advice of an experienced school law practitioner. The attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C., assist clients in Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, and Westport. Should you have any questions regarding school discipline or other education law matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

[1] Connecticut General Statutes § 10-233d.

[2] Rosa R. v. Connelly, 889 F.2d 435 (2d Cir. 1989).

[3] Connecticut General Statutes § 10-233d(d).

[4] Connecticut State Regulations § 10-76d-15.

[5] Connecticut General Statutes § 10-233d(d).