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The rules for suspension of disabled students in California

Most parents here in California have only a vague understanding about the laws that govern the schools within our state. It's because of this vague understanding that can leave parents at a disadvantage when it comes to recognizing when a violation of the law or their child's rights has occurred. It can also make dealing with potential legal issues a problem as well.

Although obtaining a knowledgeable attorney can help in legal situations concerning education law, parents also need to ask the right questions in order to get to the best resolution. And in order to ask the right questions, parents across the state of California need the right background information about the law first.

In this week's post, we'd like to provide just such information by focusing on the topic of suspensions within California schools.

Although most people are familiar with what a school suspension is and how it works, most do not know that this disciplinary action is governed by Section 48900 of the California Education Code. This part of the code lays out specific grounds upon which a public school may suspend a student.

It's worth pointing out that prior to suspension, public schools will typically hold a pre-suspension conference in non-emergency situations. At the conference, a student has the right to present their side of the story and any evidence that can show their innocence. Unfortunately though, the law does not require school administrators to wait for the student's parents to be present before holding the conference, meaning a student may be left to defend themselves.

Because the grounds for suspension are applicable for students with disabilities as well, a number of our readers may have concerns about this part of the law. What is the disabled student is unable to effectively articulate their innocence without assistance from their parents? A scenario such as this begs the question: is justice really being served?

Although the recent passage of AB 420 will make it more difficult for schools in California to suspend students, our laws may still have a long ways to go before they truly achieve their goal of providing children with access to the best education possible.

Sources: The Judicial Branch of California, "Special Education Rights for Children and Families," Accessed Jan. 6, 2015, "Information on Discipline of Students with Disabilities," Accessed Jan. 6, 2015

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