School Suspension

In New York State, children and teens have the right to attend public school, protected by our state constitution. When the school wants to suspend you or your child, they are taking away those rights, and there are strict rules they must follow.

Tully Rinckey’s education attorneys have experience assisting parents in fighting school suspensions and advocating for their child’s right to be in school.

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Types of Suspension

In the realm of academic discipline, there are two types of suspension a student may face in New York State. The first is referred to as a Principal’s Suspension. These punishments entail removing a student from regular classes for anywhere between 1 and 5 days. Suspensions lasting 6 days or more are referred to as Superintendent’s Suspensions and must be accompanied by a Superintendent’s Suspension Hearing. While these hearings may seem informal, they are very formal proceedings that mirror traditional court proceedings. It is imperative that you are aware of your rights during any academic hearing. Having a knowledgeable and dedicated New York State education attorney by your side during a Superintendent’s Suspension Hearing will help ensure your child’s rights aren’t being neglected.

Notice of Suspension

In New York State, there are laws that govern the timelines of suspension notices to parents. For suspensions lasting 1-5 days (Principal’s Suspension), two things must happen before the student is suspended. First, a parent must receive written notice of the suspension within 24 hours of the event. This written notice details the events that led to suspension, the length of suspension, information for alternate instruction, the time and location of the Principal’s Suspension Conference, as well as information regarding the right to an interpreter and the school’s student’s rights statement. Prior to a suspension, a parent/guardian must also attend the Principal’s Suspension Conference. This is an “informal conference” where the parents and student are given the opportunity to question all complaining witnesses in front of the principal so that the principal can determine whether the proposed suspension is appropriate. This conference must be held within 5 days of the suspension notice.

As Superintendent’s Suspensions are reserved for more serious offenses, there is much more that goes into the process. Suspensions of this nature require the approval of the Department of Education. If the suspension is approved, the parent/guardian must receive immediate notification via telephone of the approval. Then, a written notification of suspension must be delivered within 24 hours of the approval. Written notice of Superintendent’s Suspension must include the following:

  • Reason for suspension
  • Superintendent’s Hearing information (date, time, location). The hearing must take place within five (5) school days of suspension date.
  • Where/how your child is to receive education during suspension. Many times, an Alternate Learning Center (ALC) will be given to students in grades 6-12.
  • Witness list
  • Parent’s Rights and resources for help.

Please note that if your child receives special education services under an IEP or 504 Plan, your notice will include the date and time of the Manifestation Determination Review (MDR).

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The Suspension Hearing

A Principal’s Suspension Hearing must be held within 5 days of suspension and may occur with or without parent/guardian involvement. It is imperative that you attend this conference or ask to reschedule, as during this time you will be able to discuss the events that transpired and question any witnesses to the disciplinary event. If you are unable to attend the meeting at the date and time scheduled on your suspension notice, contact the principal’s office right away.

A Superintendent’s Suspension Hearing is a very formal process that mirrors a court proceeding. The hearing is presided over by an Impartial Hearing Officer (IHO), and it involves witness testimony and questioning. It is important that you exercise your right to have an attorney present at these proceedings to ensure your rights and those of your child aren’t overlooked.

Before the hearing takes place, you will have the opportunity to review the suspension packet and notice. From there, you will have the option to adjourn (postpone) the hearing, enter a plea of “no contest,” or proceed with the hearing as scheduled.

If you are unable to attend the hearing on the date it is scheduled, you may ask to postpone or adjourn the hearing. Should you adjourn the hearing, your child will remain suspended until the new hearing date. It is important to note that if the school adjourns the hearing, your child has the right to return to school prior to the hearing date.

In entering a plea of “no contest,” you are essentially telling the Hearing Office that your child misbehaved in such a manner as to be suspended and that you do not wish to challenge the suspension. You will not be given a hearing, and your child will serve the entirety of their suspension. However, you may provide letters of support from your child’s teachers, caregivers, and community members, showing the Hearing Office why your child should be able to return to school right away. Should you enter a plea of “no contest” but change your mind, you have 7 days from the date on your plea confirmation letter to alert the Hearing Office about your desire to challenge the suspension.

What Happens During a Superintendent’s Hearing?

If you continue with a Superintendent’s Hearing, it is imperative that you have competent legal guidance throughout the process. These matters typically mimic formal court proceedings, so having a knowledgeable education lawyer, like the ones at Tully Rinckey, will ensure that your interests are fully represented.

Superintendent’s Hearings involve subpoenaing witnesses, reviewing documents, opening and closing statements, and testifying, much like in a regular courtroom. While in a court of law, matters are presided over by a judge and decided upon by a jury, academic hearings are presided over and decided upon by an Impartial Hearing Officer (IHO). In these hearings, the school has the burden of proof, meaning it is up to the school to prove that the student committed the alleged action(s).

As the burden of proof lies with the school, they are the first to present their case during the hearing. During this time, the school will present its evidence against your child by submitting documents and calling witnesses to testify. You will have the opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses, and you will also have the opportunity to challenge any documents or evidence. The school must have eyewitness testimony as part of their evidence in Superintendent’s Hearings. As in a regular courtroom, you have the right to object to any evidence that you have not seen before the hearing, or if the revolves around previous disciplinary measures taken against your child. Having an experienced New York State education attorney by your side during the hearing will help make sure the school is not exploiting your child’s rights.

Once the school has presented its case, it is your turn to present your child’s case. During this time, you may call your own witnesses and submit your own evidence for review. It is important to note that your child cannot be forced to testify on their own behalf and has the right to remain silent throughout the hearing. Anything your child says during a Superintendent’s Hearing can and will be used against them in a court of law.

After both sides have made their case and closing statements have been given, the “dispositional phase” of the hearing begins. This is where the IHO considers all the evidence presented to determine the length of suspension should they find the charges brought against your child true. The school will give evidence about your child to the IHO, such as grades, previous disciplinary actions, and progress reports. You will also present any favorable evidence to the IHO, such as letters of support, awards received, or community involvement.

Following the Hearing, you will receive a call and a letter from the Hearing Office with their final ruling. You must be notified within 2 days of the hearing of the results of the hearing and when your child may return to school. Within 5 days of the hearing, you must be mailed a letter explaining in detail why the charges were sustained or dismissed. Should you not agree with the ruling, you can appeal the decision following a formal appeals process with the Department of Education. A knowledgeable education law attorney can help you through the appeals process and ensure all documentation is received.


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Tully Rinckey’s attorneys are here to assist you, no matter what problem you are facing. Our qualified and experienced New York State education attorneys will handle your case with the utmost regard and attention. We defend the rights of all students and their parents.

To schedule an initial consultation with a member of our experienced team, contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 8885294543 or You can also book your consultation online via the link below.

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