Students & Schools : School Discipline - Suspension and Expulsion

What is a suspension and how long can it last?

A suspension is the temporary removal of a child from school for a violation of school policies or rules.  Suspensions are generally imposed by the principal of the school and can last up to 10 school days.

What is an expulsion and how long can it last?

An expulsion is a more permanent removal of a child from school for a violation of more serious school policies or rules.  Each school's rules are different, so be sure to check your school's discipline code to make sure you understand what kind of behavior could lead to an expulsion from your school.  Expulsions are generally recommended by the principal of the school and generally follow a 10 day suspension (you're suspended first, then the principal notifies you that she is recommending you for expulsion).  Under Ohio law, expulsions can last up to 80 school days (and this can carry over to the next school year).

Is it possible to be expelled for longer than 80 days?

Yes, some expulsions can be as long as one year. Ohio law allows your school's board of education to make local policies allowing one year expulsions for very serious behavior.  See the table below for some examples:

Offense

Time

Bringing a Firearm to School

One Year

Bringing a Knife to School

One Year

Making a Bomb Threat to a School

One Year

Committing an Act That Would Be a
Crime If Committed By an Adult

One Year

Bringing a Firearm or Knife to Extracurricular
Activities, or Other School-Related Function

One Year

Note: Each school policy is different.

Note: When you are suspended or expelled, you are not permitted to enter school property, do extra-curricular activities, or attend school-sponsored events.

Do I have legal rights if my principal wants to suspend or expel me?

Yes. You have due process rights, which means that schools must follow certain procedures when they take actions against you. Ohio law sets out the procedures your principal must follow when he wants to suspend you from school. 

Your principal cannot suspend you unless:

  • He gives you written notice of his intention to suspend you and the reasons for the intended suspension; and
  • He provides you an opportunity to appear an an informal hearing in front of the principal, assistant principal, superintendent, or superintendent's designee and challenge the reason for the intended suspension or otherwise explain your actions.
(Note: these rules do not apply to "in-school" suspensions)

Ohio law also sets out the more detailed procedures your principal must follow if she wants to expel you from school. 

Your principal cannot expel you from school unless, prior to your expulsion, she does BOTH of the following:
  • Gives you and your parent, guardian, or custodian written notice of her intent to expel you; and
  • Provides you and your parent, guardian, or custodian  an opportunity to appear in person before the superintendent or superintendent's designee to challenge the reasons for the intended expulsion or otherwise explain your actions.
NOTE: You and your parents have a right to bring an attorney to your expulsion hearing!
NOTE: The written notice must include the reasons for the intended expulsion, notification of the opportunity to appear in person to challenge the reasons for the intended expulsion, and notification of the time and place to appear.

You and your parents have a right to bring witnesses and present evidence at your expulsion hearing.  You may also bring an attorney or any other advocate or support person with you.

Does the school have to hold my  expulsion hearing within a certain amount of time?
Yes.  The hearing must be scheduled no earlier than three school days and no later than five school days after the notice is given, UNLESS you or your parents request otherwise.

What if I lose my suspension or expulsion hearing.  Do I have a right to appeal?
Yes.  Within one day after the time of your suspension or expulsion, the superintendent or principal must provide your parent or guardian with written notice of your suspension or expulsion.  The notice must include the reasons for the expulsion or suspension, notification of your right to appeal to the board of education (or its designee), notification of your right to be represented by an attorney or advocate in all appeal proceedings, and notification of your right to be granted a hearing before the board of education to challenge your suspension or expulsion.

You or your parent, guardian, or custodian may appeal your suspension or expulsion to the board of education.  To do so, you and your parents must notify the board, following the procedure that is set out in the notice your parents receive.  The school board may appoint someone - a hearing officer - to hold your appeal hearing and make a recommendation to the full board about whether it should uphold your suspension or expulsion.  You have a right to request that the school board hear the details of your appeal in a closed ("executive") session (so that the details of the hearing are not open to the public), but the board must issue its decision during a public meeting.  You have a right to attend that meeting.

If you lose your appeal to the board of education, you then have a right to appeal your suspension or expulsion to the Ohio Courts of Common Pleas. 

Can I get permanently expelled from school?

Yes, but schools are permitted to permanently expel, or "exclude" children from school only for very serious behavior.  Permanent exclusion from school means that you cannot attend any public school in Ohio.

You can be expelled permanently if:
  1. You are at least 16; and
  2. you are convicted of a delinquent act, such as having one of the following:
  • deadly weapon in a school zone,
  • concealed weapon in a school zone,
  • drugs, other than minor drug offenses, on school property.

Can a school ever remove me without following the legal procedure explained above?

Yes, if you are found to be a "continuing danger to persons or property" or if you being in school presents an "ongoing threat of disrupting the academic process" either in school or on school property.  The principal, assistant principal, or superintendent can remove you from school in these circumstances, and a teacher can remove you from the classroom if he or she believes the above circumstances apply.  To do this, a teacher must give the principal a written explanation of why he or she removed you.

Once you are removed, the school must give you written notice of the reasons for your removal and your right to attend a hearing to challenge or explain the reasons.  The hearing must be held within 3 days after removal.

What if I am in housing transition or homeless?

A special law exists that protects you from school policies that punish you because of your homelessness.  Schools cannot have policies that act as barriers to the education of homeless children and youth. If you think this is happening, contact the homeless liaison in your district. Learn more at the Education Rights of Homeless Students page on this website.

What if I am a special education student?

School discipline rules are different for students who receive special education services.  Check the Special Education page on this website for more information about other procedures your school has to follow if you have a disability.

If you need help challenging a suspension or expulsion or have other education questions, contact your local legal aid program or another attorney.

See also the Forms & Education tab in this section for more information.

The information in this site is not intended as legal advice.
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