Several Westchester school districts have adopted the harmful practice of imposing draconian penalties on students for minor violations of school codes of conduct. It would be better to treat these situations as teachable moments than as opportunities for punishment. For example, some school districts have sought to impose penalties of 5 to 7 months’ suspension for minor offenses such as inappropriate remarks and gestures. Trevor approaches each case with sensitivity to the child’s future and the view that school districts’ responsibility is to teach and educate students, not punish them.
All students have due process rights that they can exercise to seek reconsideration or reduction of school discipline. Also, students with disabilities have the additional right to seek a “manifestation determination” hearing to consider whether the behavior that gave rise to the school discipline is related to the student’s disability.
Families of students facing school discipline may wish to speak to an attorney to evaluate options for seeking reconsideration of the discipline. Trevor regularly provides this service in Westchester County and New York City public schools.