Education is a very important right for every student. When a student is expelled or excluded from school, the result is a serious loss for the student, the family, and society. The Pupil Fair Dismissal Act (PFDA) is the state law that governs student discipline.

Every public school district, including charter schools, must have a discipline policy that explains when a student may be dismissed from school. You or your student should be given a copy or a summary of this policy at the beginning of the year.

What is an Expulsion/Exclusion?
  • An expulsion or exclusion is the most serious consequence of inappropriate behavior and requires school board action.
  • Expulsion is a school board action to prohibit an enrolled student from further attendance for up to 12 months from the date the student is expelled.
  • Exclusion is an action taken by the school board to prevent enrollment or re-enrollment of a student for a period that shall not extend beyond the school year.

When Can My Student Be Expelled/Excluded From School?

A student can be expelled or excluded for willful violation of a reasonable school board regulation; willful conduct that significantly disrupts the rights of other students to an education or the rights of school staff to perform their duties; or willful conduct that endangers the student, others, or school property. Students are most commonly expelled/excluded from school for possession of a weapon or illegal drugs.

The District’s Responsibility

Provide a Notice of Expulsion/Exclusion
The district must provide you and your student with a written Notice of Expulsion/Exclusion. This notice must include a complete statement of the facts; a list of witnesses and description of testimony; date, time, and place of the hearing; and a copy of the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act (PFDA). This notice must also inform parents and the student of their right to obtain a legal representative of their choosing; to obtain free or low-cost legal assistance; to examine the student’s educational record; and to present evidence and confront and cross-examine witnesses at the hearing.

What is the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act (PFDA)?

The PFDA is a state law that governs student discipline. It sets out the procedures that districts must follow when expelling or excluding a student from school. It explains a student's and parent's due process rights when a student is dismissed from school.

The school district must provide the student and parent(s) with a copy of the PFDA each time a student is expelled or excluded from school.

What Happens at an Expulsion or Exclusion Hearing?

The district must inform you of your right to request a hearing. Often, you will have already received a notice of suspension, which will state the district is suspending your student pending an expulsion/exclusion. Unless you or your student waives the right to a hearing in writing, your student cannot be expelled/excluded without having a hearing.

The hearing is closed to the public unless the student requests that it be an open proceeding. It  must be held within 10 days of the Notice of the Expulsion at a time and place that is reasonable and convenient for the student and parent. The hearing must be recorded at district expense. If the proposed hearing date does not work for you, you can request it to be changed.

The hearing officer must make a recommendation to the school board within two days of the hearing. The school board decides whether your student will be expelled/excluded within five calendar days of receiving the hearing officer’s decision.

You and your student have the right to hire an attorney or to have someone of your choice represent your student at the expulsion/exclusion hearing.

Consequences of Dismissal from School
If your student is expelled/excluded from school, your student is not permitted to be present at any school or district buildings, grounds, school buses, school functions, activities, or trips except for the purposes of attending an alternative education program as part of the student’s disciplinary action.

How Does My Student Continue to Receive an Education While Expelled/Excluded?

If your student is expelled/excluded, the district or charter school must offer your student alternative education services at another location so that your student can continue to work toward graduation requirements. If you do not like the services offered by the district or charter school, you can independently enroll your student in another school district or charter school (including online programs) or a non-public school (private or home school).

What if I Disagree With the Decision to Expel or Exclude My Student?
You may request an expulsion appeal from MDE within 21 days.

21 Day Deadline.
If you plan to appeal an expulsion or exclusion decision, you must meet a 21-day deadline. MDE must receive your appeal within 21 calendar days of the date of the school board action.

What Can I do to Prevent Expulsions?
  • Read your school’s discipline policy. You or your student should receive a copy or summary of this policy at the beginning of the school year.
  • Work with your school’s administrator. When a school is in the process of determining disciplinary action for a student, they may still be willing to work with you on an alternative solution. You can ask for alternatives to expulsion. In addition, if you believe your child has a special need and/or disability, you can request a Section 504 plan and/or special education evaluation. You can also contact your school’s special education director for additional information.
  • Contact your superintendent and/or school board. You can raise your concerns with the superintendent and/or school board. Keep in mind that the school board makes the ultimate decision regarding expulsion and exclusion actions.

Can My Special Education Student Still be Expelled/Excluded from School?
Yes. Similar to a non-disabled peer, a special education student can be expelled/excluded from school for behavior that violates a district’s discipline policy or state law.
  • Expulsion Appeal Form - 10/4/18
  •  - 6/13/13
    An easy-to-use guide to assist parents through the expulsion process.