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Zero Tolerance
Due Process

What Due Process Is…

  • Due process of law is the Constitutional right of every American, even a minor child. This right can never be superseded by any State law.
  • If a student is accused of wrongdoing, he or she must be afforded the opportunity to clear himself or herself from blames against those accusing him. This includes the opportunity to bring his own witnesses.

and What It's Not...

  • Due process is not accusing your child outright of an offense and berating him or her to "confess" to it or there will be "consequences."
  • Due process is not holding him or her hostage, against their will, during a school investigation without a parent's knowledge.
  • Due process is not accusing and punishing children for "hindering an investigation" if they exercise their right to remain silent until you are present.
  • Due process is not denying a parent their participation when their child is being questioned or searched.
  • Due process is not withholding information of an incident to a parent until after their child has supposedly "confessed."
  • Due process is not treating your child as if he/she were a guilty criminal!
  • Zero tolerance, on the other hand, essentially bypasses due process by assuming guilt first, and is harshly and unreasonably punitive.
What about Expulsion Hearings? My School District claims that this is the only "due process" my child is entitled to.

Our Answer: WRONG!

An EXPULSION HEARING IS NOT a Constitutional
due process hearing.

By the time a situation reaches to the level of an Expulsion Hearing, guilt has already been assumed and the result is a foregone conclusion. The purpose of an Expulsion Hearing is to determine whether your child should or should not be expelled from school.

The practice of zero tolerance, whether your school district has an official policy or not, has created more devastating discipline problems than it has solved, especially in cases where the student's infraction was unintentional
(Boy Scouts who forget to remove pocket knives from backpacks; students who find weapons and take steps to prevent their use; students who drive a parent's car to school not realizing a knife is in the glove box or trunk).

Zero Tolerance does not allow for human error or individual circumstances.

  • A due process (i.e. fair and impartial) hearing must occur BEFORE or immediately after a suspension is meted out with the participation of the parent, student, Principal, and witnesses (where appropriate).
  • Your child has the right to this hearing and to bring his own witnesses to clear him/herself of blames at the school level. Don't let them tell you different, or worse, allow them to skip this step.
  • Look for references to a Principal's Conference (or informal, school-level hearing) in your child's Student Handbook. Partial due process is NOT due process at all!
These are actual Expulsion Procedures. Notice the reference to the Principal's Conference!

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