A child can be suspended for certain conduct that violates the NYC Department of Education’s Discipline Code, available here.
Children can be suspended from school for certain violations of the NYC Department of Education’s Discipline Code. Learn more about how to prevent suspensions, and what to expect at suspension hearings.
When can a child be suspended?
What types of suspensions are there?
There are two types of suspensions in NYC: a principal’s suspension and a superintendent’s suspension.
What is a principal's suspension?
A principal may suspend a student for certain behavior outlined in the Discipline Code. The principal must provide written notice of the suspension to the parent and must arrange a conference with the parent within five days. At this conference the parent may question witnesses and provide documents and other evidence. The principal will decide if the suspension is reasonable. A principal’s suspension may last for 1-5 days. Principal’s suspensions are not noted on a student’s permanent record.
What is a superintendent's suspension?
A school may seek a superintendent’s suspension for serious behaviors that are outlined in the Discipline Code. Students who receive a superintendent’s suspension are entitled to a full hearing before a hearing officer. Superintendent’s suspensions may last for 6-10 days, 11-29 days, 30-59 days, 60-90 days, or one year, depending on the severity of the situation. A student over 17 years of age may also be expelled from school. A superintendent’s suspension is recorded on the student’s permanent record. However, a hearing officer may order that the suspension be expunged (taken off the record) at a time in the future.
What are the steps involved in a superintendent's suspension hearing?
- Notice: The school must immediately inform the parents in writing of the suspension. The notice should include the reason for the suspension, the date of the suspension hearing, and the alternate school the child should attend.
- Suspension Packet: Parents should request a copy of the “suspension packet” from the school. The packet contains copies of all the witness statements, the incident report, and any other evidence that the school will present at the suspension hearing. It also includes the student’s educational and attendance records.
- Pre-Hearing Conference: On the day of the hearing, there will be a pre-hearing conference with the parent and the student. The parent must decide how to proceed:
- The parent may request an adjournment in order to obtain legal representation or gather evidence.
- The parent can enter a “no contest plea.” This means that student does not admit or deny the charges, but is willing to give up the right to a hearing and accept the consequences imposed by the superintendent. A “no contest plea” may also be entered by telephone before the hearing date.
- The parent can request a full hearing.
- Hearing: If the parent chooses to have a full hearing, the school must present witnesses and evidence to prove that that student committed the acts that are charged. The school cannot prove its case with “hearsay” evidence alone. The school must provide an eyewitness who can testify about the incident, or must present a written or oral statement in which the student admits to the charges. If the school does not have an eyewitness or an admission from the student, the charges should be dismissed. The parent has the right to cross-examine the school’s witnesses and to call his/her own witnesses and introduce evidence in defense of the student. The student may testify in his/her own defense, but cannot be forced to do so. If the student was arrested in connection with the incident and is facing a juvenile delinquency or adult criminal charge, the student should talk to his/her attorney before testifying at the suspension hearing. Statements made by the student at a suspension hearing could be used against the student in a juvenile delinquency or adult criminal case.
- Decision: The hearing officer will make a decision within two days of the hearing. The decision will state whether the charges have been upheld or dismissed and will describe the disposition. If the charges are upheld, the disposition could be immediate reinstatement, or an extended suspension of 6-10 days, 11-29 days, 30-59 days, 60-90 days, or one year, depending on the severity of the situation. Students over age 17 may also be expelled. A student who has plead no contest, but who is dissatisfied with the disposition of the case may withdraw the no contest plea within three days of receiving the decision and a hearing will be scheduled.
What is the timeline for a superintendent's suspension hearing?
The hearing must take place no later than 5 days after the date of the suspension, unless the parent or school asks for an adjournment. A decision must be reached within 2 days of the hearing.
Will the student receive educational services during a suspension?
Yes. Students may not be penalized academically for a suspension. The school must make arrangements for the student to receive alternate instruction during the suspension and they must be provided an opportunity to take examinations and complete required schoolwork. Students in middle school and high school usually attend school at an Alternative Learning Center (ALC) during their suspension.
What if the child has a disability?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives extra protections to students with disabilities. If a student with a disability is suspended for more than 10 consecutive days, or if there is a pattern of short suspensions that total more than 10 days, the student is entitled to a “manifestation determination review” (MDR). At the MDR, members of the school’s Committee on Special Education, including the parent, will decide if the behavior:
- Was caused by or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student’s disability; or
- Was a direct result of the schools’ failure to implement the student’s Individualized Education Program.
If the behavior is found to be a manifestation of the student’s disability, the student generally cannot be suspended for more than 10 days and must be allowed to return to his/her regular school. However, a student with a disability can be assigned to an Interim Alternate Educational Setting (IAES) for up to 45 days even if the behavior was a manifestation of his/her disability when:
- The student inflicted serious bodily injury on another person while at school or a school function;
- The student carried or possessed a weapon to or at school or a school function; or
- The student knowingly possessed or used illegal drugs or sold or solicited the sale of a controlled substance while at school or at a school function.
More Resources About School Suspensions
The information in this document has been prepared by The Legal Aid Society for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon any information without retaining professional legal counsel.