Stopping School Suspensions

Middle school student Maria* received a 73-day suspension for allegedly inciting a fight after school. Prior to attending the school hearing Maria’s parent had no opportunity to conference with the school and did not receive any official written notification (as required) of the incident or of proposed suspension. The parent arrived at the original hearing date without legal representation and was able to receive a continuance. Thanks to a referral, she secured an attorney through a DCBF grantee.

Upon reviewing the school’s complete disciplinary record on Maria, the DCBF grantee discovered that a school administrator witnessed the fight and stated in school documents that she was not a participant. They met with the school administrator for confirmation of the facts stated in the disciplinary record. After a conversation with the Assistant Principal who recommended the proposed long-term suspension, it was withdrawn and the disciplinary hearing cancelled. Maria immediately returned to school without missing significant learning time waiting for a rescheduled hearing date.

*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality

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The American Bar Association Resource Center for Access To Justice Initiatives has collected legal aid funding data from all 50 states since 2003. Washington, DC has historically not been included in