Does a Parent really need an attorney to help them resolve and/or represent them in school discipline matters? Yes! Schools are not the same as they were 20-30 years ago, when they would call in the parent and have a “discussion with Johnny and tell him not to do that anymore…” A child needs an advocate as soon as a serious issue comes up! Often times the school’s first priority is to protect the school and the school district, not the child.
Expulsions are serious matters and result in a permanent mark on the student’s record, which can arise later in life, such as during application to college and when attempting to get certain jobs. Additionally, once expelled, a student cannot return to their school district for a set period of time and may have to attend school in a less savory environment, such as a continuation school. If an expelled student does not meet the “rehabilitation plan” terms in the expulsion, they may never return to that district.
Parents are also going up against people who “do this for a living”, who are ultimately familiar with the expulsion hearing rules and requirements e.g. for witnesses, for evidence, for procedure, and for winning. Parents are usually new to the whole expulsion process, and this is a distinct disadvantage.
Parents also must not presume a school/district will “see reason” if they just hear their story. I have too many times heard from parents AFTER an expulsion hearing that they “trusted” the district to “do the right thing.” Sadly, they did not and the child was expelled. Unfortunately, appeal rights can be limited and it is more difficult to fight an expulsion after the fact than prior to it occurring.
Ms. Walsh can represent your child in many ways: negotiating with the school, negotiating with the school district, and representing your child at the expulsion hearing. There are many options related to school discipline that may not include your child being expelled.