Students in Michigan Have Due Process Rights at School

Sarissa Montague

It is terrifying to be sitting at work one day when you receive a call from your child’s school informing you that your child has been accused of doing something wrong so he or she is being suspended and the school is seeking expulsion.  

These days, some school policies are incredibly strict. There are good reasons for that, but sometimes things that were considered “horseplay” years ago are now actions for which a child can receive severe discipline. And what happens if your child really did the act that he or she is accused of – maybe he got into a fight or maybe she was caught vaping? Maybe he had a small bag of marijuana in his backpack or her friend’s Adderall pill in her locker. While this is not behavior that anyone would condone, is it behavior that should ruin a child’s future?

Students in Michigan are afforded “due process” when a school is seeking a long-term suspension or expulsion. These due process hearings, also referred to as Suspension Hearings or Expulsion Hearings have the ability to determine the path of your child’s future. Students can be represented by an attorney at these hearings. A vigorous defense is imperative.

I recently represented a student at one of these hearings and it couldn’t have gone better. We presented the information that the decision-makers needed to hear in order to make the right decision. And they did – thankfully the student returned to school the following Monday. But the situation was scary and a different outcome could have been life-changing for this student. 

This is a big deal and it needs to be treated as such.

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