Balbi v. Ridgefield Public Schools

In the case of Balbi v. Ridgefield Public Schools, a student and his parents appealed the decision of the Ridgefield Board of Education, which voted both to expel the student for allegedly threatening another student with a knife, and not to provide alternative education for the student. The expulsion was the result of an incident that took place on October 8, 1999, on Ridgefield High School grounds.

The principal claimed that the student had threatened another student with a knife. According to the responding officer, he witnessed the student reach into his boot, produce a knife, and hand the knife to the police officer. The officer claimed witnesses testified that the student, while holding a knife, asked another student for money, and told him to empty his pockets. The witnesses themselves were not named or identified. After due hearing, the Ridgefield Board of Education expelled the student from school for a period of one year. The board chose not to offer the student alternative education.

The court granted the student’s appeal. While the school gave the student adequate notice of the hearing, the extent of the findings made by the responding office could not be sustained. This was because the police officer refused to identify the or the victim, or to provide copies of the statement, even in an edited form. As a result, the student was not allowed the opportunity to cross-examine the witness or victim. Due to this absence, the accusations lacked reliability. The court ordered the school to remove all traces of the expulsion from the student’s record.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any education matter, please contact Joseph Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.