Legal How-To: Fighting a School Suspension
A high school student who was suspended after he asked Miss America to the prom has raised issues about fighting school suspensions.
Patrick Farves' Pennsylvania high school knew he was going to ask Miss America to prom during an assembly, but warned the 18-year-old not to do it. However, Farves went ahead and asked her during a school sponsored Q&A and was given a three-day in-school suspension, according to New York's WNYW-TV.
So if you're a parent, here are some legal tips on how to fight a school suspension:
- Find out exactly why your child was suspended. When your child gets suspended, it's important to find out from the school the exact reasons for the punishment. Although schools have broad discretion in enforcing rules against students, there are times when a school's actions may be unconstitutional.
- Understand the school's suspension policy. All schools should have a written policy that describes how student suspensions are handled. For example, when children in New York City's public schools get suspended, they must still continue to receive homework or class work and must have the right to take any citywide or state tests, according to Advocates For Children. NYC public-school parents must also receive written notice of their child's suspension within 24 hours.
- Make sure the school's own process was properly followed. In some cases, schools must give students due process of the law in the event of a suspension. This means that the school generally must give notice to the student and his or her parents about the suspension and give them an opportunity to appeal the suspension. By suspending a student without due process, the school may be infringing on a student's rights. The procedure will depend on your child's school, and many private schools can suspend students without any due process requirements.
- Prepare for a suspension hearing. If you want to fight a school suspension, you may be able to request a hearing. Depending on your school district's rules, the hearing may be in front of school authorities and/or the district's superintendent. During the hearing phase, you'll want to gather all documents relating to the suspension, be familiar with the school's policy, and find witnesses who can testify on your child's behalf, Advocates For Children suggests. It's the school's job to show that your child did what it's accusing him or her of doing.
- Find a lawyer. Another legal tip is to hire an education lawyer in your area to advocate for your child at the suspension hearing. Although it's not required, a lawyer can help you understand both the law and school's policies.
These are just a few tips that may help when fighting a school suspension. As for Farves, Miss America is urging his high school to reconsider his suspension, according to WNYW-TV.
- Miss America Nina Davulari defends student suspended for asking her to prom (New York Daily News)
- MN Students Sue School District Over Gay Policy (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Student Suspended for Nose Piercing, ACLU Sues (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Sign Up for Our Free Legal Planning Newsletter (FindLaw's Legal Heads-Up)
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