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How can parents protect kids in school disciplinary hearings?

Finding out your son or daughter is the subject of a school disciplinary hearing may have you feeling anxious and concerned. School disciplinary hearings are, to some degree, a type of quasi-administrative legal proceeding, and that means your student has a right to due process when facing one.

As a parent of a child facing possible suspension, expulsion or other school-related sanctions, you may want to help your child to increase the chances of a favorable outcome. What actions might you want to take to help protect your child facing a school disciplinary hearing?

Limit with whom he or she speaks

When your child’s school sends notice of a conduct violation, it may encourage him or her to divulge the details surrounding the alleged offense. Speaking to a school representative is different than speaking with a lawyer, though. Any information your child reveals in this scenario is not privileged, so school administrators may attempt to use it against him or her. The time to reveal details about the offense to school officials is during the administrative hearing, rather than before it.

Question the effectiveness of zero-tolerance policies

You may have additional concerns about the potential outcome of your child’s case if he or she attends a school that has a zero-tolerance policy. Such policies have been subject to increasing scrutiny among civil liberties unions, with opponents arguing that kicking kids out of school for minor offenses is an ineffective way of encouraging behavioral change.

Every school has its own way of handling disciplinary matters. Knowing what to expect at a disciplinary hearing and preparing accordingly may help minimize the hardships your child faces in the aftermath.

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