There are many different aspects to education law or school law. Our firm focuses on two areas: suspension and expulsion hearings, and civil rights. Mr. Zimmerman is concerned with protecting the rights of students and their parents in a system where the school board has considerable power. Our firm can help you make the critical choices to protect your rights, ensure proper representation in expulsion hearings and, ultimately, make the choices that are best for your child’s future.
Suspension and Expulsion
Parents – has your child fallen victim to a “zero tolerance” school policy? Expulsion is a serious matter. Because students have far fewer rights in the context of the public school system than citizens have ordinarily, it is important to work with an attorney who understands the system.
School suspension and expulsion hearings are actually quite different from other kinds of cases. Usually an attorney hired by the school board will present evidence before the board in an administrative hearing. A lawyer or retired judge, also hired by the school board, acts as a hearing officer and the hearing takes place at a school board facility. The school board then acts as judge and jury. While the school board has a great deal of control over the proceedings, the student does have the right to have an attorney defend them. Mark Zimmerman’s experience and capabilities can stabilize the handling of your child’s case.
Know Your Rights
School systems throughout the country have adopted “zero tolerance” policies with regard to students’ conduct. While it is generally understood that these policies are well intended, they often create a situation in which a student who might otherwise never have a problem in school may be caught “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” There are times when a school can violate a student’s civil rights. For example, a student has a right not to be physically injured by school personnel without provocation. Students also have some limited rights to free speech and expression, as well as religious freedoms, so long as they are not being disruptive. A host of violations can occur if the police appear on school property and conduct an interrogation without permitting students to contact their parents or guardians before hand.
Public v. Private Schools
Constitutional violations are more easily directed against public schools because they are an extension of state and local government. Private schools have more freedom to act. This is particularly so in the case of religious schools where the Constitution’s guarantees of freedom of religion work in their favor.
School cases can be difficult and you need to review them with an attorney. Suspension and expulsion rules may vary from district to district, and even from school to school, so it is important to review these rules with your attorney.