If a school considers suspending or expelling a student beyond 10 days, then “due process rights,” or legal procedures and safeguards are triggered. In the school disciplinary setting, these rights are protected in a disciplinary hearing, also referred to as a “tribunal.” By Georgia law, schools must notify parents and students either by mail or in person to schedule the hearing.
Notification is in the form of a letter that clearly lays out the offense the school is alleging the child committed. The school will also provide their recommendation for a punishment, or a “disciplinary action.” By law, the school cannot suspend a child for more than 10 days without a hearing so the process moves very quickly. Often, parents will receive a letter and only have a few business days to prepare and consider retaining a lawyer.
In addition to providing notice, the school will typically ask parents and students to attend an informal meeting. When this cannot be arranged, a phone call may be scheduled. The purpose of this discussion is for the school to discuss their intentions in requesting a hearing, their recommendation for punishment and the option of a waiver.
Since the process moves quickly and a parent may not have had the opportunity to retain an attorney, the notion of signing a waiver may seem daunting and unfamiliar. Here are several common questions from parents, along with my answers below.
"Tribunals," or disciplinary hearings in the public school system are held when a child has violated a school rule. When the school is considering suspending or expelling a student, the student has a right to be heard at a hearing, often called a “tribunal” hearing. At these hearings, evidence is presented by witnesses at the school such as other teachers or administration, or students. The child is also asked to speak and give their side of the story. Once all of the information has been presented, the hearing officer will decide if the child has broken the rule. I refer to this part of the hearing as “phase one.” My goal when representing a student in this phase of the hearing is to ensure that I prevent them and their families from making any kind of statement that could negatively impact a pending or potential juvenile court case. While the child may ultimately decide to take responsibility, this decision should be made only after they have seen all of the evidence and had the opportunity to fully weigh their choices and any future impact.
The dress code in juvenile court is an important yet sometimes overlooked aspect of the process. Many other concerns seem to outweigh this topic during court prep time and I have found it best to just spell out the ABC's of dressing for court. While much of this may seem obvious, you can never be too prepared.
When you walk in to the courthouse, you will see children and adults alike in all types of clothing, ranging from extremely casual to suit and tie. While there is no mandatory dress code, I strongly believe that dressing for court is of the utmost importance.
Founder of Non-Profit: B.R.A.K.E.S., a Teen Pro-Active Driving Course
NHRA Drag Racer and Radio Host
Meet Doug Herbert---an amazing individual and champion for our youth. Doug's story is touching and his work is powerful. In 2008, Doug lost his two young sons in an auto accident and vowed to find a way to prevent other families from experiencing this pain and grief. B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) was born that same year. This is not your typical driver's ed class! BRAKES courses are conducted in locations around the country in places like the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Southern California at Pomona Fairplex, to name a few.
Students drive cars donated by KIA in a course that teaches them how to avoid accidents on a slalom course, how to handle distraction, car control and recovery, and what many students describe as the fun part of the course--the "panic stop," (driving as fast as they can and then slamming the brakes and whippping the wheel). Parents must attend this free course (which does involve a $99 refundable deposit) along with their teen. Doug's program is making a difference in the lives of teens across the country and statistics show there is approximately a 64% reduction in crashes of BRAKES graduates. To learn more about the program, gather some excellent tips from Doug, and find out how your child can participate (rumor has it the program is coming to the Atlanta Motor Speedway), read on!
:Spring is in the air and summer plans are in the making! In this blog, I would like to share several volunteer opportunities for teens to consider trying this summer. This list focuses on Cobb County and supplements the list of Atlanta opportunities I shared last year.
Please note many of these opportunities require parental supervision and/or parental consent. I hope you enjoy these suggestions and good luck planning your summer!
1) Good Samaritan Health Center of Cobb This is a great opportunity for those interested in health care. Requirements: 16 years old and up, photo I.D., immunization records and application. Contact: Email Megan Freeman to RSVP for orientation and the application.
Kathryn Boortz has a passion for working with youth and their families. She is the founder of Boortz Law, a law firm that focuses on juvenile defense.