California Education Code 48900 for Student Discipline Explained

January 03, 2023 by Seppi Esfandi in California  Criminal Defense  
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Education Code Section 48900: Suspension and Expulsion

Students in California public schools may be suspended or recommended for expulsion if they: conduct violent crimes, possess drugs or weapons, steal, harass, haze, act obscenely, threaten to inflict bodily harm or destroy school property, all under Education Code 48900 EC. For a student or pupil to be suspended or expelled, the inappropriate behavior must have occurred on school grounds or during school-related events.

Crimes Associated with Education Code 48900

Twelve misbehavior actions may result in suspension or expulsion under California Education Code 48900. If a student:

  • Hurt someone physically, tried to hurt them, or threatened to hurt them.
  • Stole or tried to steal school or private property.
  • Possessed or used tobacco, except as allowed in Section 48901.
  • Acted obscenely or used foul language.
  • As described by HSC 11014.5, possessing or attempting to sell drug paraphernalia is a serious offense.
  • Is possessing or attempting to sell drug paraphernalia as specified by HSC 11014.5.
  • Interrupted school activities or otherwise disobeyed the lawful orders of school officials while they were at work.
  • Acquired stolen goods (either school or personal) with malice aforethought.
  • Possessed a fake gun. “Imitation firearm” is a replica of a weapon that is so physically similar to an existing firearm that a reasonable person would think it is a firearm.
  • Perpetrated or tried to commit a crime classified as sexual assault under PC 261, PC 266c, PC 286, PC 288a, or PC 289, or a sexual battery under PC 243.4.
  • Harassed, threatened, or intimidated a complaining witness or witness in a school disciplinary procedure to prevent or retaliate against them.
  • Was engaged in hazing as defined in Section 32050.

Under this law, a student may be suspended but not expelled if they assist or abet, as defined in Section 31 of the Code, the infliction or attempted infliction of bodily harm to another person. However, a student who has been found guilty by a juvenile court of aiding and abetting a violent offense in which the victim sustained severe bodily harm or serious bodily harm will be subject to punishment under section (a).

For a student disciplined under this provision, a superintendent or principal may provide counseling and anger management as alternatives to suspension or expulsion.

A child may be suspended from school or recommended for expulsion if the school’s superintendent or administrator believes that the student engaged in sexual harassment as described in Section 212.5. This is in addition to the grounds mentioned in Section 48900.

For the actions described in Section 212.5 to qualify as harassment under this chapter, they must be deemed severe or pervasive enough by a reasonable individual of the same gender as the victim to affect the victim’s academic performance or to create a threatening, hostile, or offensive educational environment. Students in grades PreK-3 are exempt from this provision.

In the event of expulsion, what protections does a student have?

Just like any other citizen, students are provided with rights and protections that they need to be aware of in case they are faced with an expulsion case. They include:

  • Within 30 days after the occurrence, the student is entitled to a hearing.
  • They are entitled to an interpreter and a translated copy of any paperwork if English is not their first language.
  • The suspension or expulsion process may be recorded if they so wish.
  • They are entitled to the assistance of legal counsel or a local advocate.
  • At the hearing, they may submit evidence, examine it, and ask questions about it.
  • The school must notify the student and parent in writing of the expulsion, including details on the alternative courses offered to the student during the suspension and the procedures that must be followed to reinstate the student to normal class status.

Individuals with Disabilities Exemption

Students cannot be punished for conduct directly attributable to their disability. If a student with a disability is reprimanded, they can provide their side of the story and other defense rights.

Every parent must be aware of where to access the state legislation, the district policy, and the school policy for their child since each school district has some flexibility within the state law to establish its code of conduct and impose penalties on the child or the parent.

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