Over the years I’ve heard pretty much everything and what follows may echo some of your thoughts. I offer them not to frighten or alarm you, but to arm you with a greater understanding, to help make the right decision that will enhance the chances for the best possible outcome.
They won’t expel my child – I pay them too much money.
It sounds reasonable, but don’t believe it. That’s simply not how schools decide disciplinary cases.
I did way worse when I was in college – she’ll be fine.
Perhaps you did, but these are different times, with different standards and different systems and yesterday’s tolerance and understanding barely exists today in a zero-tolerance society and educational environment.
My child is an adult and needs to take responsibility and handle it on his own and learn from it.
While I am a big believer in letting college age students deal with the ramifications of their own actions, this isn’t the time to let them go at it on their own. Potential punishments can be harsh and have life-changing and life-defining consequences. Your child needs the best possible chance for success.
How bad could it be – my child wasn’t arrested?
There are many offenses that students are not arrested for that may lead to expulsion. An arrest has no bearing on how a school treats a violation of their code of conduct.
My child told us not worry, no big deal. Friends and relatives’ kids went through the same thing and it was fine.
That may be true, but every case and every offense is different. Different schools handle discipline in different ways. You need experienced advice – not anecdotal, colloquial wisdom.
The school only allows an attorney to advise my child, so how can you help at the hearing?
Even if participation is limited, I’ll play a vital role: preparing your child’s defense and teaching him or her to advocate for themselves. I’ll identify and interview potential witnesses, get statements, gather evidence, and plan a litigation strategy with arguments to support it. Most important of all, I’ll accompany them to the hearing to support them and protect their rights.
Can we sue the school if we get a negative result?
You can but it’s unlikely you find justice. Most lawsuits against schools are dismissed. Those that aren’t – those that detail the school’s violations – result in the case being sent back to the school for a new hearing with protections against violations of the first hearing.
How I Get Started
Understand that you’re in a fluid and fast-moving situation. School disciplinary cases often move at remarkable speed. Because of that, as soon as I’m hired I take immediate action:
- I meet with or have an audio or video call with your child.
- I’ll instruct her not to communicate in any way with school personnel or anyone involved in the incident until we have constructed a strategy to deal with the school.
- We discuss the incident to fully understand what happened , and with that knowledge, we begin to craft a defense.
- I determine if there is evidence to gather, witness statements to take, or if a private investigator experienced in working in the college environment is required.
As a final note, I keep you informed. I’m a father and I know first-hand how the stressful nature and the fear of a situation like this makes living a normal life more than challenging. So I won’t add to it by keeping you in the dark; you’ll be fully informed of all steps taken