The bill requires a school district to implement additional procedural safeguards for an expulsion hearing (hearing). A school district is required to provide all records that the school district intends to use as supporting evidence in a hearing to the student or the student's parent, guardian, or legal custodian at least 5 business days prior to the hearing. If a school district intends to present written statements or oral testimony from witnesses during the hearing, the student and the student's parent, guardian, or legal custodian must be notified at least 5 business days prior to the hearing of the contents of the written statement or oral testimony provided to the school district. The student and the student's parent, guardian, or legal custodian have the right to cross-examine adverse witnesses who provide a written statement or oral testimony to the school district.
During the hearing, the school district has the burden of presenting clear and convincing evidence to demonstrate that the student violated state law and the school district's policy, and that excluding the student from the learning environment through expulsion or denial of admission is necessary. Following the hearing, the executive officer or designee acting as a hearing officer is required to report findings of fact, findings regarding mitigating factors, and recommendations.
Current law permits a student to be suspended, expelled, or denied admission for behavior on or off school property that is detrimental to the welfare or safety of other students or school personnel. The bill requires a school district or enrolling school district to demonstrate that a student's behavior off school grounds poses an imminent threat to other students or school personnel by establishing a direct and substantial nexus between the student's alleged conduct committed off school grounds and the risk of physical harm to other students or school personnel. Behavior that occurs off school grounds that results in delinquency or criminal charges and is unrelated to a school-sponsored event is not automatic grounds for suspension, expulsion, or denial of admission. For a hearing concerning a student whose alleged conduct occurred off school grounds, the executive officer or designee acting as a hearing officer is required to report findings of fact that establish a direct and substantial nexus between the student's behavior and the risk of physical harm to other students and school personnel.
Current law allows a school district board of education (board) to delegate its power to its executive officer or to a designee who serves as a hearing officer to expel or deny admission to a student. The bill requires the individual who serves as the board's hearing officer to agree to recusal if a conflict of interest occurs that interferes with the individual's duty to act as an impartial hearing officer. An executive officer, a designee, or any individual acting as a hearing officer is also required to participate in an annual training on state and federal school discipline laws.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)