As the recent events with Dereian Brown have illustrated, the Madison school district expulsion process is something of a mystery to those who aren’t directly involved. Here are answers to some of the questions that people have asked.
But first, a disclaimer. Members of the School Board don’t publicly discuss the deliberations we have about expulsions in closed session. I am speaking only for myself here. Also, student privacy considerations preclude us from talking about individual cases, so my focus is primarily on general procedures and policy issues.
Who decides whether a student will be expelled from a Madison school?
Ultimately, the School Board decides.
Where does dealing with expulsions rank among School Board responsibilities?
I think it is everyone’s least favorite part of the job. It is certainly mine. School Board members take every expulsion seriously. The application of our expulsion policy to the unique situations of individual students is a sobering and often saddening exercise.
How does an expulsion get started?
Expellable offenses are identified in our Behavior Education Plan (BEP). Once someone at a school learns that an expellable offense may have occurred, an investigation is undertaken by a school administrator. This is generally the principal or an assistant principal – for ease of reference, we’ll assume it’s the principal. The principal interviews students who may have information, including the students who are suspected of the misbehavior, and, when possible, reviews videotape from security cameras.
If the principal determines that a student has done something that meets the definition of an expellable offense, he or she sends an expulsion memo downtown. This is mandatory – the principal has no discretion in the matter.
The memo is reviewed, and if it is in order, an administrator prepares an affidavit that recommends the student for expulsion for a specific period of time, and also recommends an early reinstatement date.
If the student has or is suspected of having a disability, an investigation explores whether the behavior in question was a manifestation of the student’s disability. If so, the process ends. Otherwise, the matter is referred to a hearing examiner for a hearing. Continue reading