Schools generally start an expulsion process by first suspending a student. After five days, a school can extend the suspension by requesting expulsion.
Districts usually handle expulsion proceedings through a hearing process conducted before a panel of three district administrators. This hearing is recorded. Districts are required to provide parents with a copy of the materials the school will use to attempt to convince the district to expel a student before the hearing. These materials are often called a “Due Process Packet.”
During the hearing, the school will present the evidence it has against a student. This is generally a combination of written materials (e.g., student statements of the alleged offense, the student’s academic and discipline records) and live testimony. The student is given an opportunity to question the school’s witnesses. The student is then permitted to make his or her own presentation (either through parents, a non-attorney advisor, or an attorney).
The panel will make a recommendation about what should happen to the student and forward it to the local school board. If the recommendation is not to expel and to reinstate the student, the recommendation is binding and immediately enforceable. If the recommendation is for any negative action against the student, it is not binding or enforceable until the local school board takes action on the recommendation.
If the local school board takes action negative against the student, that student has a right to appeal the decision to the County Board of Education. These Boards usually only meet once a month. Students are required to give notice to the County Board of their intent to appeal, and students must work with the District to have transcripts of the hearing prepared. Because of this, it is sometimes impossible to appeal a decision to the County the same month as the local school board action. If you win the appeal, you are reimbursed the costs of the transcripts.
Special education students are entitled to greater protections when facing expulsion.