Don't Get Pushed Out. Know Your Rights! 

 

If you were physically removed for breaking school rules, kicked out of a regular classroom, told to go to the front office for the rest of the day, or the in-school-suspension (ISS) room, told to go home for the day, or told you cannot enter the building, you've been suspended or possibly expelled.

Immediately document the date your child was sent home -- write it down, screen shot the phone call you got from the school, write to the principal confirming your child was sent home.

Ask the principal for a meeting to explain what evidence they have to support the suspension or expulsion.  Ask for the number of days you are being proposed for suspension or expulsion.

Ask for paperwork that shows what Code of Conduct offense you are accused of committing.

Save all paperwork!

If you have an IEP or 504 plan, add up the number of days you have been removed so far.

When a school system suspends a student with an IEP or a 504 plan for more than 10 consecutive school days or for more than 10 days total, the IEP or 504 team must meet within 10 school days from the date of the last removal for a “manifestation meeting.”

A manifestation meeting must take place before the conference with the superintendent’s or CEO's designee as described below. At the manifestation meeting, the IEP or 504 team will decide whether the conduct for which you are being proposed for an extended suspension or expulsion was a “manifestation” of your disability—in other words, whether the behavior was related to the student’s disability, OR if the behavior took place because of the team's failure to implement the IEP or 504 plan. If the team decides that the behavior was related to the disability, you get to return to school. You are part of your IEP or 504 team. Make sure your voice is heard at the meeting. If you do not think your IEP or 504 plan meets your needs or that the school has not been following the IEP or 504 plan, bring this up at the manifestation meeting. 

However, if the incident involved guns, drugs or serious bodily injury, you still have to move forward to a superintendent or CEO's designee conference. 

If you have previously asked to be evaluated for an IEP or 504 plan, but don't have one in place, you are still suspected of having a disability and the school should hold a manifestation meeting first. 

Call MSRP as soon as possible to get connected with a special education advocate.

First, start counting the days since you were removed. Call MSRP for advice.

An extended suspension is a removal of 11-44 days. An expulsion is a removal for 45 days or more.

BEFORE any final decision can be made on an extended suspension or expulsion, the school system (the CEO’s or superintendent’s designee) MUST hold a conference with the student.

The school system must investigate the incident beforehand. They have to listen to your side of the story at the conference. If you cannot make the conference date, you can ask to have to it rescheduled.

If the conference is after 10 school days, your child gets to return to school.

Ask for an evidence packet and time to look it over before the conference starts. Ask for witness statements and video surveillance. Bring your own witnesses. Bring letters of support. Bring an advocate! Call MSRP!

If you were arrested for the incident or if there will be a referral to court, you should be careful about speaking at the conference. You are not “rejecting” due process by choosing to stay silent.

Ask what alternatives the school used before removing you from school. Ask why the number of days of removal is necessary. 

There is no such thing as an automatic suspension or expulsion. Before expelling you, the school system must find that you pose an “imminent threat of serious harm” if you returned to school before the number of days of removal. They have to support their finding with evidence.  

If they suspend you for more than 10 days, they have to either find that you would pose an imminent threat of serious harm if you returned prior to the period of removal --- or that you were so chronically and extremely disruptive across the school day that you posed a barrier to other students' learning and that other alternative interventions have been exhausted.

Ask for a decision in writing and the exact number of days your child will be removed. Ask for your appeal rights in writing and how to file an appeal

You must appeal to your local school board within 10 calendar days of the CEO or superintendent's designee's decision. The school board must give you an evidentiary appeal hearing -- that's a hearing with live witnesses that you get to question before a neutral body -- and make a decision on your appeal within 45 days of the request. 

You have a right to education under the Maryland constitution. Maryland state discipline regulations require the school system to provide all suspended and expelled students with comparable educational services.