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Can You Sue a Private School for Expulsion in New York? 2024

Can You Sue a Private School for Expulsion in New York? 2024

Private schools do not have to follow all the same laws as public or charter schools in New York. Schools in New York must follow certain guidelines and processes in the suspension or expulsion of a student, and failing to follow these guidelines can result in various forms of recourse from officials. If you are expelled without any process or based on false accusations, you may ask, “Can you sue a private school for expulsion in New York?”

If you are unsure about your or your child’s rights in the face of private school expulsion, it’s helpful to find legal support. An attorney understands how state and federal laws apply to private and public schools, and they can help you review your contract with a private school. This can determine if the school’s actions were fair, discriminatory, or a breach of contract.

Can You Sue A Private School For Expulsion in New York?

When Can a Private School Expel a Student?

A private school can suspend or expel a student for nearly any reason. A private school’s rules do not need to be the same as a public school’s rules, and private schools can essentially determine their own conditions for suspension and expulsion. Private schools may expel students for reasons such as:

  • -Misconduct that breaks the school’s written discipline code
  • -Low grades or failing a class
  • -Unpaid tuition costs
  • -Any other reason listed for a student not being the right fit

These causes for expulsion or suspension should be outlined in a private school’s handbook or in the contract it has with students and their guardians. Because of this, it is hard to state that an expulsion was unfair or sue a private school due to an expulsion because the school can create its own rules for the expulsion. It is often impossible to sue a private school for expulsion unless the school breaks specific federal laws.

When Can You Sue a Private School?

Although rare, it is possible to sue a private school in similar ways that you could sue any private company. After a student’s expulsion, the main methods of recourse include:

Breach of Contract

A private school can create its own guidelines for expulsion procedures, but it must follow the policy it makes. When a student and their guardian enter into a contract with a private school, both parties must uphold their sides of that contract. Courts have generally upheld that the school’s handbooks and guidelines are a contract with the students who pay tuition.

Contract law must be respected, and a student can sue a private school if the school does not adhere to its own regulations. If you were expelled from a private school, and the school did not follow its own guidelines for that process, you may be able to sue them. It’s important to review the regulations and other contract material with a legal professional. A legal claim must be about a specific issue to have a likelihood of success. An attorney can determine if you have grounds for a breach of contract claim.


Most federal discrimination laws still apply to private schools. Any private school that receives federal funding must follow specific anti-discrimination laws, but some of these laws even apply to schools that don’t receive federal funding. If a student was expelled not for legitimate reasons but based on discriminatory reasons, this may be cause for a discrimination claim against the private school.

Not all private schools are required to adhere to all anti-discrimination laws. Private religious schools are allowed to refuse entry to students who do not practice that religion or who practice another religion. Single-gender schools can refuse entry to students of another gender. It’s important to discuss your unique situation with a skilled attorney who understands how these state and federal laws may affect a specific school and your unique case.


Can You Get Expelled in New York State?

Yes, you can get expelled in New York State. Typically, schools will assign either a short-term or long-term suspension before resorting to expulsion. Public schools must follow specific laws regarding the process of suspension or expulsion. Private schools can make their own processes for expulsion and suspension. However, some things are still illegal for private schools to do, such as breaking a contract with a student.

An attorney can review the specific situation of expulsion you’re facing and determine if you have options to fight against it.

Do Students Facing Suspension or Expulsion From School Have Legal Rights?

Students facing suspension or expulsion from school do have legal rights when it is a public school. Although a student also has certain legal rights against a private school, they are not as clear. Public school students have the right to:

  • A hearing for long-term suspension or expulsion.
  • -Secure legal counsel.
  • -Present evidence and witnesses.

This process may not be required of private schools. An attorney is crucial to understanding your legal rights in this case.

How Do You Fight Out-of-School Suspension?

You may be able to fight out-of-school suspension by scheduling a meeting or a hearing. These are protected rights for students and their guardians in public schools, but the same rights may not exist for those in private schools. At a conference or hearing, a guardian or student can present their side of things and potentially request alternate disciplinary action. To determine if you have the right to a similar process in a private school, have a skilled attorney review your contract with the school.

What Are Student Rights in New York State?

Student rights in New York State include the right to a safe environment that is free of discrimination, harassment, and bullying on school grounds, property, and related functions. Students also have the right to due process if they are faced with suspension for longer than five school days. Students have the right to discipline that is fair and appropriate, the right to freedom of expression, and, importantly, the right to an education.

Legal Support After Private School Expulsion

Expulsion and other disciplinary actions can not only be upsetting but affect a student’s future. It can be hard to understand your rights when your school is a private institution. You need an attorney with a deep understanding of what laws apply in this situation and how to protect your rights. At the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, we can provide the legal support you need. Contact us today, and let us help you determine what your rights are.

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