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.
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.