Issuing Expulsion vs. Suspension
When a school board decides that a child’s misbehavior warrants a greater punishment than up to ten (10) days’ exclusion from school, they may instead consider issuing an expulsion. As with suspensions, there are three recognized grounds (discussed in greater detail here) for expelling a student: his or her behavior 1) violates a publicized school policy; 2) seriously disrupts the educational process; or 3) endangers persons or property. Where the conduct was committed on school grounds, only one category need be established; if off school grounds, then a showing of both #2 and #3 are required.
As a parent, if your child is facing expulsion, it is imperative that you understand your child’s rights during the expulsion process. Below you will find a concise guide on what to expect before, during, and after the expulsion hearing.
Before the Hearing and Preparation
When an expulsion is considered for student misbehavior, parents must receive written notice “within twenty-four hours detailing the date, time, a plain statement of the matters at hand, and a list of free or reduced-fee legal services.” The school board must also provide any and all documentary evidence it intends to present at a suspension hearing. Barring emergency circumstances, students are statutorily entitled to a formal hearing in front of the school board within ten (10) days after the proposed expulsion.
Parents are advised that prior to the hearing, they review the school board’s evidence and speak with the school board’s witnesses to understand the substance of their potential testimony. In addition, parents should arrange for their own witnesses to testify on their child’s behalf.
At the Hearing
The expulsion hearing is presided over by three members of the board of education (or an impartial hearing officer). Their purpose is to determine whether an expulsion is proper, and if so, how long it should last. A school administrator will present the facts leading to the expulsion, followed by presentation of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses by both parties. Board members have the opportunity to ask questions, and both the student and administrator may present additional arguments.
After the Hearing
The school board or hearing officer may render one of three possible decisions:
- Reject expulsion. The child immediately eligible to return to school.
- Support expulsion. The child cannot attend school or any school-sponsored activity for the duration of the expulsion. The school board will consider disciplinary history in determining the length of the expulsion.
- Recommend a suspended expulsion. This is basically probation for the student. If the student misbehaves again, the expulsion may be imposed.
Within twenty-four (24) hours of the hearing, parents must receive the decision. If expulsion was recommended, parents cannot appeal but are left with some choices:
- The board must provide an alternative educational program (AEP) for the duration of the expulsion. Click here for more information on AEPs.
- The parent may seek to enroll their child in another school, but this may be denied by the potential receiving school.
- The parent may apply, on their child’s behalf, for early re-admission to the school.
Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.
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 lawyers 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.
 “Advocating on Your Child’s Behalf: A Parent’s Guide to Connecticut School Law,” by Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at pp.42 (citing Connecticut General Statutes § 10-233d(a)(3)).
 Connecticut General Statutes § 10-233d(a).
 Connecticut General Statutes § 10-233d(a)(3).
 Connecticut General Statutes § 10-233d.