Due Process is a Constitutional right that comes from the 14th amendment. The 14th amendment states that no state can "deprive any person of their life, liberty, or property without due process of law". This means that the state can not deprive you of your basic rights without first allowing you proper legal proceedings such as a trial.
How Does Due Process Apply to Suspension or Expulsion?
Every student has the right to education. Whenever a student is deprived of his right to education through disciplinary proceedings such as suspension or expulsion, the student is entitled to due process. This right to due process includes the right to notice and a fair hearing prior to the administration of long-term suspension or expulsion.
What Rights Do I Have in a Due Process Hearing?
All long-term suspensions and expulsions must be evaluated in a formal hearing. During this hearing, the student has the right to:
- Know what specific rules were violated
- Have the decision regarding the suspension/expulsion decided by an impartial three person panel
- Bring evidence and witnesses on the student's behalf
- Bring legal counsel
- Have the hearing be closed to the public to protect the privacy of the student
What Happens If I Am Denied My Right to Due Process?
If a school official or the board of education denies you your right to due process, you can use this as a defense to a suspension or expulsion decision. A denial of due process procedures is grounds for the reversal of a suspension or expulsion decision of the board of education and for your immediate reinstatement to school.
Is There Ever a Time When I Can Be Denied My Right to Due Process?
In an emergency situation, you can be denied your due process rights, but only temporarily. If the school believes that you pose an immediate threat to yourself or others, the school staff can suspend you immediately for up to ten days without giving you a hearing. However, the due process procedures must be provided as soon as possible. Only in emergency situations can due process be provided following the application of discipline.
Should I Contact a Lawyer?
If you have questions regarding your due process rights, or if you believe you have been denied your right to due process, you may want to contact a government lawyer experienced in education and schools. An experienced lawyer will be able to explain your rights to you and represent you in any appeals or administrative hearings that might be necessary.