Know Your Rights

Students' Rights

Civil Rights

Free speech: Students retain many of their First Amendment rights in school. However, they can be subject to discipline for behavior, including speech or expression, that is vulgar or disruptive of the learning environment. Students cannot be required to say the Pledge of Allegiance or wear a uniform. Dress code requirements are most likely legal as are limitations on access to websites.

Religion: Students may express their religious beliefs at school and wear religious symbols (subject to the above mentioned limits). Schools may not lead prayers or promote religion in classes. Students may have religious clubs but teachers cannot lead or sponsor them. Absence from school for a religious holiday may not be used to punish a student.

Search and seizure: School officials may search your school locker any time without suspicion or notice. School officials only need reasonable suspicion to search a student's person, backpack, or car parked at school. Police still need at least probable cause and usually also a warrant to search a student or his property. School may drug test all students who participate in extra-curricular activities. Students under 16 have the right to have a parent present before being questioned by a police officer.

Due Process Rights

For short term suspension: (less than or equal to 10 school days)
The school must: explain why you are being suspended, share the evidence they have that supports the suspension, allow you to tell your side of the story, and give you any evidence they have that supports your story. This can be and frequently is informal, usually just between the student and an administrator.

For long term suspension: (more than 10 school days)
The school must: provide written notice of the charge, hold a hearing before an impartial administrator, inform you ahead of time when the hearing will be, share and allow you to copy any documents to be used at the hearing, allow you to bring counsel, make a record of the hearing, allow you examine any live witnesses it presents, and make a decision based only on the evidence. You also have the right to appeal the hearing decision at least to the school board and the superior court; additional rights vary.

For expulsion:
Same rights as for a long-term suspension plus the right to request readmission to the school after the first July 1 that is more than 6 months after the event that led to the expulsion. The school must present clear and convincing evidence that the child's continued presence in school is a clear threat to the safety of staff or students.