New Jersey Special Education School Suspension Attorney
If your child runs into serious trouble at school, he or she might be suspended, which could impact the services outlined in your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Depending on the offense, you and your family might need a school suspension lawyer who can guide you through this process and appeal for a compassionate solution.
The dedicated New Jersey special needs attorneys at the Susan Clark Law Group LLC have more than 100 years of combined legal experience. We would be glad to assist you with a suspension and any other disciplinary matters.
Common Reasons for Suspension
State statutes say that students who do not adhere to schools’ codes of conduct can be suspended for behavior that includes:
- “Continued and willful disobedience” or open defiance of authority figures
- The use of profanity or obscene language
- Defacing school property
- Assaulting other students
- Stealing or extorting property or money from other students
- Trespassing on school property
- Harassing, bullying, or intimidating others
- Possessing drugs or alcohol while on school grounds
- Being intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance while at school
When a student has a disability, the New Jersey Department of Education states that school district personnel can consider on a case-by-case basis any unique circumstances when deciding whether to impose a suspension or other discipline. The state also notes that preschool students with disabilities shall not be suspended or expelled.
In general, it is unlikely that a child with a particular an emotional or behavioral disability would be suspended for behavior linked to that disability. However, a student with a disability can be suspended if the school district determines that the objectionable behavior is not related to the disability.
Certain behaviors – such as bringing weapons or drugs to school, physically assaulting school staff, and fighting – could result in an expulsion, regardless of a student’s disability.
Short-Term Suspension vs. Long-Term Suspension
A short-term suspension means a student is removed for 1 to 10 consecutive school days from a general education or special education program. Long-term suspension means removing a student from general or special education for 10 or more consecutive school days.
During the suspension of a student with a disability, school officials may order that the student be placed in an alternative educational setting or an interim setting within 5 days (lasting no more than 45 days).
If your child has a series of short-term interim reassignments, school officials and your child’s case manager will determine whether this constitutes a pattern that creates a change of school placement, the state Department of Education says. In any case, the principal will forward written notification of such action and a description of the reasons to you and your child’s case manager.
What Is the Difference Between Suspension and Expulsion?
With a suspension, your child still falls within the school system and can receive educational and support services once the suspension is over.
An expulsion terminates the student’s public educational services and any additional support from the school system.
What to Do When Your Child Is Suspended
Students with disabilities have special rights when facing suspension. Schools must determine whether the disability was a cause or a factor in this situation and present evidence to support that position.
If your child is facing a suspension, you will receive an oral or written notice of the charges. If your child denies the charges, the school also will provide an explanation of the evidence forming the basis of the charges and schedule an informal hearing where your child can present his or her version of the events.
Please note that if a student poses a continuing danger to people or property, schools have the right to suspend the student immediately and conduct the informal hearing as soon as is practical.
There also is a formal hearing before the district board of education that at minimum reviews a transcript or report of the informal hearing and includes the opportunity for the student to present his or her own defense, as well as confront and cross-examine witnesses.
The New Jersey school suspension lawyers at the Susan Clark Law Group LLC can accompany you and your child to these hearings, protect your child’s due process rights, evaluate the evidence, and present witnesses. We are prepared to stand up and fight for your child’s rights.
Learning that your child faces a suspension is no doubt stressful, but try your best to talk with the school calmly and obtain the reasons and evidence behind this potential disciplinary decision. It’s important to understand fully the school’s side of the story.
Aside from the disciplinary process, you’ll also want to ensure that your child has support for any emotional, behavioral or other issues that arise as a result of this situation.
If the evidence shows that the suspension is warranted, you’ll also want to consider that the incident and behavior may be indicative of a problem in your child’s life. You may have to consult a specialist such as a neurologist, behaviorist, psychiatrist, or a substance-abuse counselor to explore intervention and treatment.
How to Appeal a Suspension
If your child does not prevail at the informal or formal hearing, students have the right to appeal to the state’s education commissioner regarding the district board of education’s decision.
Your child’s school will have guidelines outlining how to appeal. The state notes that a student can return immediately to his or her educational program if at any time it is found that the student did not commit the offense.
How an NJ School Suspension Lawyer Can Help
Our New Jersey school suspension lawyer at the Susan Clark Law Group LLC, we sympathize with the particular challenges of raising children with disabilities because we’ve done it ourselves. We’re dedicated to providing the resources, legal advice, and support necessary for your child to succeed.
Whether you need someone in your corner at an informal or formal hearing, or you’d like help filing an appeal about a school’s disciplinary decision, we’re here to serve you. We are also glad to hear any concerns you have about how an interim or alternate placement because of a suspension affects your child’s IEP and overall path to learning success.
Please call us or contact us online today for a free consultation.