From 2009 to 2010, our Fair Discipline Project assisted more than fifty students enrolled in public schools and public charter schools to obtain the due process to which they are entitled in disciplinary matters. Here are a few examples:
—We represented a Prince George’s County high school student who was expelled when a teacher searched his personal flash drive without probable cause or reasonable suspicion and found evidence of computer misuse. After considerable administrative litigation, the School Board agreed to re-characterize the expulsion as a voluntary withdrawal and to pay his parents $2,500 in partial compensation for the money they spent on tuition while he was out of school.
—We represented a college-bound high school senior facing a 90-day suspension. She was with a group of friends off school grounds when one friend got into a fight with another student. Although our client was not involved in the fight, when she came to school the following day she learned that she had been suspended for 90 days for being part of a group fight. We pointed out that the school could not suspend her because there was no evidence that she had been involved in the fight. Through our advocacy, the suspension was reduced to “time served” and our client returned to school immediately following an appeal.
—We defended a high school student accused of writing graffiti on the walls. The school proposed to suspend him for nine school weeks, but cross-examination at a hearing showed that the school had no evidence proving that he was involved. The hearing officer reduced the proposed suspension to two weeks at the request of our client, who wanted to attend an alternative school for two weeks to help him focus on his work.
—A charter school proposed to expel a second-grader after he threw a temper tantrum in his classroom. Representing him and his parents, we argued that expulsion is not an appropriate penalty for a seven-year-old and requested that he be evaluated for special education. Our client returned to school, and the school diagnosed him with a disability and began providing supportive services.
—We represented another second grade student enrolled at a charter school who was threatened with expulsion for being disrespectful of adults, having an attitude problem, and elbowing her teacher. The student’s mother requested special education evaluations many times, but the school ignored her requests and instead excluded her child from school. We demanded that the school stop discriminating against our client because of a suspected disability. She returned to school, and the school evaluated her for disability.