School Discipline

Kids in care are sometimes unfairly stigmatized because of their unstable home lives. However, our young people are also dealing with some unresolved emotional issues that can contribute to conflict in many settings, including school. Whatever the factors contributing to a discipline issue a child is facing in school, it is important to keep some principles in mind:

  1. Every child has a right to an education, whether they've misbehaved or not. If a child is suspended for behavior, they still need to receive instructional materials while they are serving their suspension.
  2. A child and their supporters have a right to challenge their punishment if is unfair or if there is a disagreement about what happened.
  3. Should a child with an IEP have considerable behavioral issues leading to an expulsion hearing, a special meeting called a "Manifestation Determination" must happen first to determine if the unacceptable behavior is a result of their disability.

School suspensions and expulsions

Suspensions and expulsions are two types of school discipline. Both are regulated by California Educational Code 48900. Both suspensions and expulsions must contain two elements: an act prohibited by the Educational Code and a connection to school [EC48900(r)]. Remember, the act must be related to a school activity. This means, while on school grounds, while on the way to or from school, during lunch or recess, or during, to or from school sponsored activities.

Students cannot be suspended or expelled for tardiness or excessive absences from school.

Please be aware that there are certain ZERO Tolerance offenses for which the school board must expel a student [EC48915(b)]. These include:

  • Possessing, selling or furnishing a firearm
  • Brandishing a knife
  • Selling a controlled substance
  • Committing or attempting to commit sexual assault
  • Possession of an explosive

Special Education Discipline

California special education discipline law incorporates federal law (IDEA) through the California Ed Code 48915.5.

Please be aware that if your youth has a disability under IDEA there are some differences in the discipline process. You will want to understand how the following impacts your foster youth, and consult with an advocate or legal authority to ensure your child's rights are being met:

  • Change in placement
  • Patterns of suspension
  • Manifestation Determination
  • Appeals
  • After the Manifestation Determination