Although many people are familiar with their local school systems from personal experience, they may not be familiar with the unpleasant reality that a student's suspension or expulsion from the school system is a dislikeable but common fact of school life. Moreover, many people, including attorneys, may not be familiar with the local, state laws and regulations, and the federal statutes that encompass a student's right to enroll in and attend a school of his choice, and the procedures that are to be followed when that attendance is threatened, and, specifically, when the student's attendance is proscribed, and the student is ordered to cease his involvement with the local student body, and in fact all school programs and activities.
This article discusses the proof necessary to establish, from both a procedural and substantive standpoint, that a student was improperly expelled from a public school. This article first explores the history, background, and rules and regulations that govern a student's attendance in a public school, the local, state, and federal statutory and administrative law that control the activities of students while they are enrolled in public school programs, and proceeds with an examination of the grounds upon which a school board or school system might be found liable for a violation of the local, state, and even federal laws related to the acceptable and unacceptable behavior for a classroom student, and how that behavior might be controlled and enforced if the student does not comply with the school system's intentions and requirements in such matters. Also considered are the state and federal enforcement procedures and their regulatory standards and penalties in student-expulsion cases, and how the judicial review of a state or federal administrative action might be engendered from the facts and law underlying a particular student's expulsion case. This article also considers defenses to an action brought by a student, including the defense of sovereign immunity, as well as damages and remedies that might be asserted by the student against the school system or other enforcement agencies if the school's case against the student is not properly founded or prosecuted, including a checklist of possible elements of damages. The remaining article sections encompass the elements of proof necessary to show that a student was improperly expelled, and a series of related model interrogatories and requests for document production from the plaintiff student to the defendant school system. In addition, this article supplies sample testimony that tends to establish the innocence of a student who is either wrongfully accused of a violation of school policy or standards, or who is improperly expelled from the school system after a violation of the school policies is discovered. Finally, the plaintiff's case is established via expert and related witness testimony; and this article incorporates a bibliography of sources for the reader's further legal research into these procedural and substantive law areas.