It sounds reasonable, but don’t believe it. That’s simply not how schools decide disciplinary cases.
Every Parent’s Fear
Your child has just called you. He received a phone call or a letter from his school. A violation of the school’s disciplinary code of conduct has been filed. Now with so many questions you are searching for answers.
- Can you trust the school to handle your child’s case fairly?
- Do you trust the school to issue a fair and just punishment?
- What gives your child the best chance of success against the charges?
It’s obviously a difficult and scary time. Over the years I’ve spoken with many parents at this stage. Sometimes it’s a minor violation. I advise them how to proceed, explain the likely punishment and tell them that hiring an attorney isn’t necessary.
What if it is Serious?
Other times you can’t delay. I advise these parents to hire me right away, to immediately evaluate the school’s case, to start planning your child’s defense, to contact witnesses, get statements and review and obtain additional evidence. Most critical, your child should speak with me right away, as soon as they learn of the charges, before giving a statement.
Stressful for Good Reasons
Disciplinary hearings are serious, difficult matters and take a toll on the entire family. Your child is being charged with an offense and the school’s priority isn’t protecting their rights. Your child’s fate is in the hands of a panel of peers and paid employees that are untrained, unqualified, and hardly impartial. Schools limit everything from witnesses to evidence.
My Best Advice – Call Me
Before you do anything, before life-altering decisions are made or a statement is given, you need to speak with an attorney to get the information you need. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To make sure you get expert guidance right away, know that there is no charge for the initial phone consultation.
Questions and Misconceptions
Over the years I’ve heard pretty much everything and what follows may echo some of your thoughts. I offer them not to frighten or alarm you, but to arm you with a greater understanding, to help make the right decision that will enhance the chances for the best possible outcome.
Perhaps you did, but these are different times, with different standards and different systems and yesterday’s tolerance and understanding barely exists today in a zero-tolerance society and educational environment.
While I am a big believer in letting college age students deal with the ramifications of their own actions, this isn’t the time to let them go at it on their own. Potential punishments can be harsh and have life-changing and life-defining consequences. Your child needs the best possible chance for success.
There are many offenses that students are not arrested for that may lead to expulsion. An arrest has no bearing on how a school treats a violation of their code of conduct.
That may be true, but every case and every offense is different. Different schools handle discipline in different ways. You need experienced advice – not anecdotal, colloquial wisdom.
Even if participation is limited, I’ll play a vital role: preparing your child’s defense and teaching him or her to advocate for themselves. I’ll identify and interview potential witnesses, get statements, gather evidence, and plan a litigation strategy with arguments to support it. Most important of all, I’ll accompany them to the hearing to support them and protect their rights.
You can but it’s unlikely you find justice. Most lawsuits against schools are dismissed. Those that aren’t – those that detail the school’s violations – result in the case being sent back to the school for a new hearing with protections against violations of the first hearing.
How I Get Started
Understand that you’re in a fluid and fast-moving situation. School disciplinary cases often move at remarkable speed. Because of that, as soon as I’m hired I take immediate action:
- I meet with or have an audio or video call with your child.
- I’ll instruct her not to communicate in any way with school personnel or anyone involved in the incident until we have constructed a strategy to deal with the school.
- We discuss the incident to fully understand what happened , and with that knowledge, we begin to craft a defense.
- I determine if there is evidence to gather, witness statements to take, or if a private investigator experienced in working in the college environment is required.
As a final note, I keep you informed. I’m a father and I know first-hand how the stressful nature and the fear of a situation like this makes living a normal life more than challenging. So I won’t add to it by keeping you in the dark; you’ll be fully informed of all steps taken.