An Overview of School Discipline

School discipline is an issue that may arise with respect to a student’s improper activities while attending a public school. Typically, if the student commits an improper act, the situation is handled in an administrative manner without formal judicial review of the student’s conduct. However, if the student’s conduct was grossly improper or harmed the lives of others, judicial intervention may be necessary and required.

Students, teachers, and administrators all have a legitimate interest in the assurance that the school and related areas are free from unwanted disturbances. Every student that attends public school has the right to obtain a public education. The right to obtain an education should not be denied to any student absent extreme circumstances or for good cause.

If, for example, the student is unable to get along with her teacher and the student continually misbehaves, the student may be able to be moved to another classroom to resolve any issues that may have arisen with the student’s original teacher. In the aforementioned example, the student will not likely have to seek the advice of an attorney or involve the judicial system.

Even if the student committed an improper act as alleged by school administrators, the punishment sought to be imposed by the administration may not be proper. For example, if the student broke a window and the school administration sought to expel the student, the punishment rendered may have been too severe. The student may challenge the punishment imposed by way of administrative means, i.e. requesting an informal and then formal hearing in front of the school board or an administrative board. If administrative means fail, the student may wish to file a lawsuit seeking injunctive relief that would preclude the school from expelling the student as a result of his actions.

Challenging the School’s Conduct

If the student violated a school rule, it is required that the school show that the rule was understandable and that the school had the power to enforce the rule or regulate the type of conduct that the rule sought to enforce. Furthermore, the school is also required to show that the discipline imposed was fair. The punishment imposed or sought to be imposed must be not unduly harsh or severe. The punishment imposed must fit the offense committed.

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