Your student’s hearing should be scheduled for a date within five days of their initial suspension. Hearing Offices open at 9 AM and usually take cases on a first-come, first-served basis. We suggest that people arrive by 8:30 AM. Be prepared to wait, as some hearing offices hear many cases in a day.
Before the hearing there will be an opportunity for an Early Resolution Conference. At this hearing you will be offered the opportunity to plead “no contest.” A “no contest plea” means that your student does not admit guilt or innocence to the charges but accepts the suspension length. If you and your student choose to plead no contest the hearing will go straight to the dispositional phase (described below), and there will be no evidence or witness testimony.
In the hearing room will be you, your student, your advocates, and the hearing officer. The hearing officer presides over the hearing and decides whether to sustain your student’s suspension. The school will also send a representative. Witnesses (other students, teachers, administrators who were physically present for the incident) may also be present for portions of the hearing, but cannot be in the room unless they are actively testifying.
During the fact-finding phase of the hearing, the school will present its evidence concerning the alleged misconduct. Any witnesses will testify. Your student will have the opportunity to testify in their defense, but is not required to testify.
Your student’s hearing may be combined with other students involved in the same incident. But no matter what, your student will receive their own suspension decision, to maintain their confidentiality.
The dispositional phase occurs after the fact-finding phase. During this part of the hearing, the parties discuss the length of suspension if the suspension is sustained. School transfer options can also be raised at this time.
After the dispositional phase, the hearing will end. The hearing officer should make a decision within two days.
Here’s what else you need to know
Bring four copies of any relevant materials to the hearing. Please tell us if you would like us to print any of your materials!
Evidence may include both written and oral statements from witnesses.
Witnesses will likely be questioned and cross-examined at the hearing.
Evidence may also include physical evidence or video evidence.
We will request an email decision, so that your student will know the results of their hearing as soon as possible.
After the hearing, stick around. We will debrief with you and your student and talk about next steps.
After the Hearing
You should receive a decision from the hearing office within two days of your student’s hearing. This is called a suspension decision letter. If not, we will follow up.
The suspension decision letter will tell you if charges have or have not been sustained.
If the charges are sustained, your student will continue to be suspended for the length of time decided at the dispositional phase. Any school transfers agreed to at the dispositional phase will also take effect. Your student has the right to full-time alternative education throughout their suspension. If your student’s charges are sustained, there may be additional steps you can take:
If your student has an IEP, a Manifestation Determination Review (known as an MDR) will be scheduled. This is a meeting between you, your advocates, and members of the IEP team (usually your students' guidance counselor) to determine if your student’s disability contributed to the behavior they were charged for. If the behavior in question is determined to be related to your student’s disability, their suspension will be reduced to no more than 10 days.
If you believe that your student’s hearing was unfair, you have the right to file an appeal. Please let us know if you would like assistance filing an appeal.
If your student receives a suspension longer than 90 days, we will help you petition for reinstatement after 30 days.
If the charges are not sustained your student will be reinstated to their school, and the charges will be removed from their record.
Once the results of your student’s hearing are in, we ask you to complete a Parent Experience Survey that we will email you. This is an opportunity to give us feedback and help us continue to improve our advocacy. Finally, we will continue to be a resource to your student and help them get their educational journey back on track.