15 Laws, Rights to Protect Your Child vs. Unfair School Discipline or Treatment
By Shirley Tang
Knowledge is power, especially so when it could be life-saving. In public schools, parents and students must know their rights. In this article, let's examine the 15 laws and rights that can protect your child against unfair school discipline or treatment.
Knowing these laws and rights can minimize or entirely avoid the chance of unfair treatment or wrongful disciplinary punishment: suspension, expulsion or arrest.
The disciplinary action can come from a school official or School Resource Officer (SRO) or the like. Knowing the laws and rights may even change your child’s life forever – by preventing him/her from entering the school-to-prison pipeline.
However, the key to protect your child from wrongful school disciplinary actions is more than just knowing the laws and rights. It also depends on how well you can coach your child beforehand to handle those sudden adverse situations that require instant strategic actions.
Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is for your general guideline only. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.
Know your rights to empower you against bureaucracy, wrongful suspension, expulsion or arrest
1. Your child’s right to request parent's presence before answering high-pressure questions
This is an immensely overlooked and underused right that parents should, but largely fail to, coach their child to employ when he/she is facing high-pressure questioning from a school official or, worse yet, a SRO. As such, unfortunately, your child could accidentally incriminate himself/herself with statements wrongly or unjustly interpreted by these authorities. The result: a wrongful disciplinary punishment.
So embrace this: your child, when he/she runs into disciplinary trouble at school, has the absolute right to request your presence before answering any questions from a school official or SRO. Before such possibly intense situation happens, coach your child to speak calmly and firmly to the authority, “I would like to call my parent (or legal guardian) now, please.” Then proceed to call you immediately.
2. Your and your child’s Right to Remain Silent
Your child is vulnerable enough facing high-pressure questioning from a school official. But when that comes from a SRO, your child could be as intimated as an ant looking up to an elephant.
One day, I met Criminal Law attorney Nardine Guirguis at our board meeting for our community organization, Wake Collaborative To Stop Bullying. I seized the “free” opportunity and asked her take on a student’s right to remain silent. She gracefully stated: