School Discipline

School Disciplinary and Expulsion Proceedings

Whether you're in grade school, high school, or one of the many colleges in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, school disciplinary proceedings are serious matters for which you may need an attorney.

Students might find themselves facing a disciplinary hearing after violating their school's Code of Conduct (on or off campus). Violations range from academic integrity matters (such as cheating or plagiarism) to potential criminal matters (such as assault, drug, or DUI charges). School sanctions could include a transcript notation, suspension, probation, a letter of reprimand, or even expulsion. It is important to contact an attorney immediately to review your rights and options if your child’s school initiates disciplinary actions against him or her.

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Student Disciplinary Hearings

Massachusetts and New Hampshire are home to many prestigious colleges and universities. Students at these schools can occasionally find themselves accused of committing acts that break the law, violate the student code of conduct, or both. Even if a student is facing criminal charges for an offense committed off campus, he or she could also be subject to disciplinary proceedings by his or her university or college. However, it is important to understand that the lack of criminal charges does not necessarily mean that a school will not take disciplinary actions against the student. Let our firm review your case by calling (978) 494-0272.

Overview of Student Disciplinary Hearings

  • Which kinds of alleged misconduct typically result in these hearings?
  • How would an attorney help a student in these kinds of cases?
  • What are the possible consequences that a student faces?

There are several different alleged acts that may result in a middle school, high school, college, or university wanting to take disciplinary measures against a student. Some of the offenses may include, but are not limited to:

  • COVID violations
  • Drunk Driving or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Drugs
  • Underage Possession of Alcohol
  • Possession of Fake ID
  • Traffic Offenses
  • Drug Charges
  • Marijuana Charges
  • Firearm / Weapon Charges
  • Violent Crimes
  • Domestic Violence
  • Sex Crimes
  • Property and Theft Offenses
  • Internet / Cyber Crimes
  • White Collar Crime
  • Any Other Violations of Student Code of Conduct

Role of Attorney at Student Disciplinary Hearings

Most schools attempt to limit the roles that lawyers play in disciplinary hearings for students. In many cases, there will be an informal hearing or conference at which the student can accept or deny the charges against him or her and possibly request a formal hearing to fight the allegations. These "hearings" typically happen very quickly, before the student realizes that he or she should consult an attorney. Students have several rights during this process, including the rights to review any documents or evidence, challenge any evidence or testimony presented at a formal hearing, question witnesses who testify against the student, and call witnesses to testify on the student's behalf. Additionally, the student can also testify on his or her own behalf.

For students on an IEP or 504 plan, there is an additional hearing, called a manifestation determination review (MDR). It is recommended that you consult a special education attorney prior to attending that hearing (oftentimes this and the disciplinary hearing occur the same day).

Even if your child has admitted to the offense, there may be mitigating factors that a special education attorney can cite to to get the punishment reduced.

Possible Punishments Resulting from Student Disciplinary Hearings

A student could face any one of several sanctions if the school finds him or her responsible for an alleged violation. These can include a warning, written reprimand, suspension, loss of campus housing, mandatory counseling, athletic suspension, and expulsion. Holly Lynch Law has experience in reducing punishments and having suspensions overturned.

 

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