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What Happens at a School Disciplinary Hearing in New York? 2024

What Happens at a School Disciplinary Hearing in New York? 2024

When students receive a long-term suspension, which is a suspension lasting more than five school days, they have the right to a fair disciplinary hearing. They also have other rights during this process. These requirements are part of the state’s education laws, which outline the process by which a student can be suspended in public schools. Both parents and students may wonder, “What happens at a school disciplinary hearing in New York?”

What Happens At A School Disciplinary Hearing in New York?

When Suspension Leads to a Disciplinary Hearing

A long-term suspension is also called a superintendent’s suspension, as a school district’s superintendent or their designee are the only individuals with the authority to assign a suspension longer than five school days. For suspensions that are shorter, a principal can assign them, and a hearing is not required. Instead, guardians or students have the right to request an informal conference.

A hearing may not always occur after a suspension. The student or their guardian can enter a no-contest plea. This can only be done voluntarily, with full knowledge and information of what a signed plea does. By entering the plea, the student:

  1. Does not contest the charges against them.
  2. Gives up the right to a fair hearing.
  3. Will have the suspension on their school record.

It’s important to consult with a professional about your situation if you are considering signing a no-contest plea. Depending on your circumstances, a hearing may be essential to protect your rights.

Preparing for a Fair Hearing

A student and their guardian have the right to have an advocate represent them at the fair hearing, which can include an attorney. With the help of an attorney, there are several things a student and their guardian can do to prepare for a hearing, including:

  • -Look over the information in the suspension notice.
  • -Gather relevant documentation regarding the accusations.
  • -Review and collect school records.
  • -Request a copy of the suspension packet, which includes the evidence and related documents from the incident.
  • -Determine if there were any witnesses to the alleged incident.

An attorney can help you protect your rights and build a strong case for the hearing.

Understanding the Process of a Disciplinary Hearing

A fair hearing in New York is overseen by the superintendent of the school district or another individual of their choosing. They become the hearing officer, who provides a third-party determination at the end of the fair hearing. They act as the judge, taking witness oaths, requesting relevant documentation, and allowing both the school and the student to present their side of the story through testimony and evidence.

The school has the burden of proof when showing if the student did commit the misconduct they are being accused of. A fair hearing typically follows these steps:

  1. The school presents its testimony, evidence, and witnesses regarding the alleged misconduct.
  2. The student, their guardian, or their advocate can question those witnesses.
  3. The student or others can bring their own witnesses forward as well as other relevant evidence.
  4. If a supporting witness is unable to attend the hearing itself, they can be requested to write a letter about the incident.
  5. The student can also present letters written by others in their community who know the student and can attest to their character.

The hearing is recorded through audio or a written transcript. Based on the information that the school and the student present, the hearing officer will determine whether the student committed the misconduct and what the appropriate disciplinary response should be. The hearing officer can then make a recommendation to the superintendent, such as for how long the suspension should be. The superintendent can follow the recommendation or reject it.


Can a School Punish You Without Evidence?

No, a school cannot punish a student without evidence, as disciplinary actions like short-term and long-term suspension require due process. If a student is suspended without this due process, then the student or their guardian may be able to file a complaint or even file a civil claim. For short-term suspension, due process includes a notice of suspension, which informs students and their guardians of their right to a conference. Long-term suspension and expulsion have a longer due process, including the right to a fair hearing.

What Should You Do When Your Child Gets a Short-Term Suspension?

When your child gets a short-term suspension, you have the right to schedule an information conference with the principal. This conference must occur before the suspension once you receive the notice of suspension. The notice of suspension will provide you with information about the incident and your right to this conference.

At the conference, a student, their guardian(s), and the principal can discuss the alleged misconduct, question the individual who reported the misconduct, and determine if there are alternate options and solutions to suspension.

What Are the Options for Kids Who Have Been Expelled?

Your options for kids who have been expelled in New York include:

  1. Send them to alternative school programs or schooling in an alternate setting. These are options that schools are required to provide to suspended students who are 16 or younger under state law.
  2. Find a different school system that will accept them as a student.
  3. Appeal the expulsion if it is done incorrectly or based on faulty evidence.

It can be helpful to discuss possible options with an attorney who understands the state’s laws for expulsion and suspension.

Do Excused Absences Count Against You in New York?

An excused absence in New York could count against you. An excused absence is still considered an absence, but it does not always count the same as an unexcused absence. Depending on the specific school district’s requirements, excused absences may or may not count toward a student’s maximum absence limit. Excused absences might also not count for specific school activities.

Finding the Right Legal Advocate and Representation for a Fair Disciplinary Hearing

When you receive a notice of suspension for a public school in New York, you have rights. You should take advantage of your right to due process, the right to legal counsel, and the right to appeal unfair actions. At the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, we can help you and advocate for your interests during a disciplinary hearing. Contact our firm today to see how we can limit the effect that a suspension has on your future.

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