District Protocols for a Recommendation to Expel

Facts and Investigations

It is extremely important that administrators conduct a full and fair investigation to ascertain the facts surrunding an alleged violation of the Edueation Code that results in a recommendlation to expel a student. This is a serious and legal process and every effort must be taken to insure an appropriate outcome. Please keep these items in mind when conducting an investigation.

1. Take your time
Take sufficient time when conducting your investigation . There is no specific time constraint or statute of limitation prior to making a recommendation to expel. The clock starts ticking once the recommendation is signed by the principal.

2. lnterview staff witnesses
Most often a staff member will make a written or verbal referral to the administrator about the alleged violation. Ask the staff member to write a statement of facts . Use the Sworn Witness Declaration by a Staff Member form. Ask the staff member to write down the facts only. The staff memher should not give personal opinions, just the facts. As an example, the student says, ''I'm going to hit you with a baseball bat becluse you are picking on me." The teacher should write down exactly what the student said without ccmmenting "but, I don't think he really meant it." Ask if there were other witnesses who may have seen the incident.

3. lntervlew the alleged student suspect
Interview a student "suspect" who bas been identified by staff, students, or others very carefully. Use a respectful and assertive apptoach but not an aggressive stance. Don't accuse, belittle, or intimidate the student, just get his/her side of the story. Ask for a written statement. Use the Sworn Admission Declaration by a Student form. Don' t coerce a confession if the student is less than cooperative. This kind of tactic/behavior is an invitation for possible future legal action.

4. Interview student witnesses
When interiewing students it is important to keep notes during the interview as there are often the "he said, she said" comments or other students are implicated while he/she is speaking. Once you have an understand if of the events, ask the student to write a statement. Use the Sworn Wittness Declaration form for students to write their statements. Students are not to write on binder paper, scratch paper or the like but use the official form. It makes a point that the school takes statements seriously and it gives the student the message that s/he is expected to tell the truth. Track down all leads that develop during your interview to discover the truth und to build a strong case for expulsion, even if it may extend the investigation time. This is especially true if the probable suspect denies any wrong doing. If the student is not capable of writing his/her own statement, it can be dictated to a school official and student may sign off to authenticate the statement.

5 . Protecting a Witness
Pursuant to EC §48918 (f) the administrator is obligated to protect the identity of potential witnesses who are in fear of unreasonable harm if they testify in an expulsion hearing or identify a "suspected" student. Talk to the student to help him/her understand that confidentiality can be protected in eases involving potential harm to the witness. If the student wants to cooperate and have his/her identity protected, use the Sworn Witness Declaration in Fear of Reasonable Harm form. Attach the form to the original statement. In order for the §48918 (f) form to be used, the student witness/victim must write a specific reason why he/she is in fear of testifying at the hearing. The parent of this student witness must be contacted by the administrator and the parents must convey safety concems for their child. The name and identity of the witness will be deleted from any copy made available to the pupil recommended for expulsion. The District Office will delete the student's name from the original documents. All originals must be submitted to the District Office.

Contact with the District Office

Once the initial investigation has been completed and there is sufficient evidence and cause to recommend expulsion, the investigating administrator must call the Director of Student Services. This important phone contact will initiate a series of questions for the administrator, including the possibility of additional interviews. This will be an opportunity for the investigating administrator to make sure that she/he has addressed all areas before informing the parent of the recommendation to expel the student. It is also the time to facilitate appropriate action to avoid particular problems andfor procedural violations. The investigating administrator will be given directions to set up a meeting time for the Due Process Conference.

Principal's Recommendation

Once the principal has made the decision to recommend expulsion, based on the facts at hand, she/he signs the suspension form and checks the area marked expulsion is recommended. The investigating administrator and the principal will review the case together and work closely during the proceedings. The parents of the student are notified by phone by the site administrator that a recommendation for expulsion has been made.

The Parent Conference to Review Due Process Rights

Within the five (5) days that the student is suspended the parent and student will meet with the investigating administrator and the Coordinator of Student Services to review the Parents' and Students' Due Process Rights Relative to the Expulsion Process. The meeting will generally last 45-60 minutes and is held at the District Office unless other arrangements are made. Parents have the following Due Process Rights, guaranteed by Education Code §48918:

1. A hearing to determine whether or not the student should be expelled.

2. The hearing will take place within thirty (30) school days.
The school district may extend the hearing up to five (5) school days for good cause.

3. Parent may request in writing a postponement of the hearing of no more than thirty (30) calendar days.

4. Parent may bring legal counsel or any other representative to the hearing.

5. Parent may inspect and obtain copies of all documents to be used in the hearing.

6. Student and parent may confront and question all witnesses who testify and question all other evidence presented.

7. Student and parent may present oral and documentary evidence, including witnesses at the hearing

Site Administrator Responsibilities

1. Contact parent and Student Services to set up conference date, place and location. Keep all parties informed of any changes.

2. Arrange for an interpreter if needed.

3. Prepare to respond to general questions pertaining to the incident. This is NOT the time to defend or dispute the recommendation.

4. Facilitate the check out of the student and transition to the new placement.

District Administrator Responsibilities

1. Explain process and rights to parent.

2. Find an alternative placement for the student if appropriate or extend the suspension if it is justified.

3. Establish hearing date/time or process stipulated expulsion as needed.

4. Assist the site administration in the preparation of the expulsion packet.

Preparation of the Expulsion Packet

As reported above, parent may inspect and obtain copies of all documents to be used in the hearing. The expulsion packet is the principle source of documents that are used at the hearing. The school prepares the packet and forwards it to the Coordinator of Student Services. The Coordinator's office will prepare the packet for the hearing, repoduce the packet, and mail the packet to the parent.

Contents of the Expulsion Packet

The District uses a standardized format for all expulsion packets that includes:

1. Cover Sheet

2. Letter/Notice of Hearing

          (This letter is prepared by the Coordinator's office. The site will not have a copy at this time.
All other items will be prepared by the school.)

3. Copy of the Suspension Report

4. Copy of the Due Process Conference Form

5. Summary Report for tbe Administrative Hearing

6. Signed Witness Statements

7. Copy of the Student Emergency Card

8. Transcript/Academic Record

9. Summary of Discipline Record

10. Record of Previous lnterventions/Alternative

11. Teacher, Counselor, Nurse Reports of Current Progress

12. Manifestation Determination IEP/504, psychologist report, if applicable

13. Attendance Report

Guidelines for Preparing the Expulsion Packet

Please follow these guidelines in the preparation of the expulsion packet:

I. Remember that parents have the right to

a. inspect and obtain copies of all documents to be used in the hearing.
(Once requested in writing, we have five (5) calendar days to provide the documents.)

b. confront and question all witnesses who testify and question all other evidence presented.

2. Prepare a complete, professional packet of evidence to support the recommendation. Use the format provided.

3. Prepare a "camera ready" packet. Poor, illegible copies are counter-productive for the hearing (or the credibility of the school and district administration).

4. Use black INK with all Witness Statements.

5. If a witness statement needs to be transcribed from a non-English language or an illegible original, use the Transcript of a Sworn Witness Declaration form. Attach the original to the typed form and have the witness read and sgn it.

6. If a student requests confidentiality as a witness, make a copy of the Fear of Reasonable Harm form and white out all identifying information from the copy. Leave the original un-edited.  Attach the redacted copy to the original when presented to the Coordinator's office.

7. Only request a report from the psychologist if student is receiving special education services.

Timelines Related to the Preparation of the Expulsion Packet

Refer to the timelines required by the Education Code. lt is critical that the investigating administrator meets all the dead lines. Not meeting the deadlines can be cause for the County Office to dismiss an expulsion, in spite of the merits of the case. The Coordinator's office will be very assertive in helping the site make the deadlines.

Cllecklist for tile Expulsion Packet

The following documents are to be camera-ready when delivered to the Child Welfare Office. Keep them in this order but do not number pages.

Checkbox  Cover Sheet

Checkbox  Copy of the Suspension Report

Checkbox  Copy Due Process Conference Report

Checkbox  Copy of Manifestation Determination IEP/504, If applicable

Checkbox  Copy of Front and Back of Student Emergency Card

Checkbox  Summary Report for the Administrative Hearing

Checkbox  All Signed and Dated Witness Statements
      a. Student
      b. Staff witness(es)
      c. Student witness(es)
      d. Student witness in fear with redacted lnformation for confidential witnesses

Checkbox  Copy or Summary of Discipline Record

Checkbox  Record/Report of Previous lnterventions/Alternatives

Checkbox  Report of Progress from teacher, nurse, counselor

Checkbox  Report of Progress from psychologist only if student Is a special education student

Checkbox  Copy of Transcript/Academic Record

Checkbox  Copy of Attendance Report

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