State law provides comprehensive assurances of due process for students facing disciplinary action.
Georgia Compiled Rules & Regulations 160-4-8.15. Student Discipline
(h) Tribunal Training Course- a course of at least five (5) hours duration which
- includes instruction on:
- (i) all student disciplinary provisions in Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated,
- (ii) due process requirements under federal and state law,
- (iii) applicable rules of evidence,
- (iv) leading federal and state judicial and administrative decisions, and
- (v) applicable ethical Standard and the role of the hearing officer and panel member as an independent, neutral arbiter; and
- follows a training course outline that is annually approved by the Local Board of Education.
(i) Tribunal Training Provider- one who has expertise and/or knowledge of:
- all student disciplinary provisions in Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated,
- due process requirements under federal and state law,
- applicable rules of evidence,
- leading federal and state judicial and administrative decisions, and
- applicable ethical Standard and the role of the hearing officer and panel member as an independent, neutral arbiter. [...]
(j) Each local board of education shall make available to all Qualified Student Discipline Hearing Officers and Disciplinary Tribunal or Panel Members the initial and ongoing tribunal training course prior to the individual(s) serving in such capacity. The local board of education shall ensure initially trained student discipline hearing officers and disciplinary tribunal or panel members undergo continuing education so as to continue to serve in such capacity.
(k) Each local board of education shall observe Georgia law in developing and implementing disciplinary hearings held by a disciplinary hearing officer, disciplinary panel, or disciplinary tribunal pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-751. through § 20-2-759. including the ability to honor disciplinary orders of private schools and other public schools/school systems pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-751.2.
- Disciplinary hearings shall be held no later than ten school days after the beginning of the student's suspension unless the school system and parents or guardians mutually agree to an extension.
- Any teacher who is called as a witness by the school system shall be given notice no later than three days prior to the hearing.
Official Code of Georgia Annotated 20-2-735. Adoption of policies by local boards to improve student learning environment
(d) Progressive discipline processes developed pursuant to this subpart shall be designed to create the expectation that the degree of discipline will be in proportion to the severity of the behavior leading to the discipline, that the previous discipline history of the student being disciplined and other relevant factors will be taken into account, and that all due process procedures required by federal and state law will be followed.
Official Code of Georgia Annotated 20-2-752. Establishment of disciplinary hearing officers panels or tribunals for imposition of suspension or expulsion; rules and regulations; appeals
Local boards of education may establish by policy, rule, or regulation disciplinary hearing officers, panels, or tribunals of school officials to impose suspension or expulsion. If such hearing officers, panels, or tribunals are established, such rules and regulations must include the following:
- (1) Provisions governing the manner of selecting the hearing officers or members of the panels or tribunals and the number of members thereof;
- (2) Provisions governing procedures to be followed by such hearing officers, panels, or tribunals in fact-finding, hearings, and reporting recommendations to the local board;
- (3) Provisions granting a right to appeal to the local board when the punishment imposed by hearing officers, panels, or tribunals is long-term suspension or expulsion; and
- (4) Provisions whereby the local school superintendent may suspend enforcement of the suspension or expulsion ordered by the hearing officers, panels, or tribunals pending the outcome of any appeal to the local board.
Official Code of Georgia Annotated 20-2-753. Disciplinary hearing officer panel or tribunal to hold disciplinary hearing following allegation of assault and battery or recommended suspension or expulsion exceeding 10 days
(a) In addition to any proceedings which are authorized in Code Section 20-2-752, local boards of education shall appoint a disciplinary hearing officer, panel, or tribunal of school officials to hold a disciplinary hearing following any instance of an alleged violation of the student code of conduct where the principal recommends a suspension or expulsion of longer than ten school days or an alleged assault or battery by a student upon any teacher or other school official or employee, if such teacher or other school official or employee so requests.
(b) Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to infringe on any right provided to students with Individualized Education Programs pursuant to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Official Code of Georgia Annotated 20-2-754. Procedures to be followed by disciplinary officer panel or tribunal; review
(a) The provisions of Code Section 20-2-1160 shall apply to disciplinary proceedings under this subpart.
(b) A disciplinary officer, panel, or tribunal of school officials appointed as required by Code Section 20-2-753 shall, in addition to any other requirements imposed by rules and regulations which may have been promulgated pursuant to Code Section 20-2-752, ensure that:
- (1) All parties are afforded an opportunity for a hearing after reasonable notice served personally or by mail. This notice shall be given to all parties and to the parent or guardian of the student or students involved and shall include a statement of the time, place, and nature of the hearing; a short and plain statement of the matters asserted; and a statement as to the right of all parties to present evidence and to be represented by legal counsel;
- (2) The hearing is held no later than ten school days after the beginning of the suspension unless the school system and parents or guardians mutually agree to an extension;
- (3) All parties are afforded an opportunity to present and respond to evidence and to examine and cross-examine witnesses on all issues unresolved;
- (4) Any teacher who is called as a witness by the school system shall be given notice no later than three days prior to the hearing; and
- (5) A verbatim electronic or written record of the hearing shall be made and shall be available to all parties.
(c) If appointed to review an instance pursuant to Code Section 20-2-753, the disciplinary officer, panel, or tribunal shall conduct the hearing and, after receiving all evidence, render its decision, which decision shall be based solely on the evidence received at the hearing. The decision shall be in writing and shall be given to all parties within ten days of the close of the record. Any decision by such disciplinary officer, panel, or tribunal may be appealed to the local board of education by filing a written notice of appeal within 20 days from the date the decision is rendered. Any disciplinary action imposed by such officer, panel, or tribunal may be suspended by the school superintendent pending the outcome of the appeal.
(d) The local board of education shall review the record and shall render a decision in writing. The decision shall be based solely on the record and shall be given to all parties within ten days, excluding weekends and public and legal holidays provided for in Code Section 1-4-1, from the date the local board of education receives the notice of appeal. The board may take any action it determines appropriate, and any decision of the board shall be final. All parties shall have the right to be represented by legal counsel at any such appeal and during all subsequent proceedings.
(e) Either or both parents or guardians or legal counsel of the student involved may obtain a copy of any documents relating to a disciplinary proceeding conducted pursuant to this Code section.