State law provides comprehensive assurances of due process for students facing disciplinary action.
Nebraska Revised Statutes 79-255. Act; purpose.
The purpose of the Student Discipline Act is to assure the protection of all elementary and secondary school students’ constitutional right to due process and fundamental fairness within the context of an orderly and effective educational process. The sanctions defined in the act shall be interpreted at all times in the light of the principles of free speech and assembly protected under the Constitution of Nebraska and the United States Constitution and in recognition of the right of every student to public education.
Nebraska Revised Statutes 79-265. Principal; suspend student; grounds; procedure; written statement; conference; guidelines for completion of classwork.
(1) The principal may deny any student the right to attend school or to take part in any school function for a period of up to five school days on the following grounds: (a) Conduct constituting grounds for expulsion as set out in the Student Discipline Act; or (b) Any other violation of rules and Standard of behavior adopted under the act. (2) Such short-term suspension shall be made only after the principal has made an investigation of the alleged conduct or violation and has determined that such suspension is necessary to help any student, to further school purposes, or to prevent an interference with school purposes. (3) Before such short-term suspension takes effect, the student shall be given oral or written notice of the charges against him or her, an explanation of the evidence the authorities have, and an opportunity to present his or her version. (4) Within twenty-four hours or such additional time as is reasonably necessary following such suspension, the principal shall send a written statement to the student and his or her parent or guardian describing the student’s conduct, misconduct, or violation of the rule or standard and the reasons for the action taken. The principal shall make a reasonable effort to hold a conference with the parent or guardian before or at the time the student returns to school. (5) Any student who is suspended pursuant to this section may be given an opportunity to complete any classwork, including, but not limited to, examinations, missed during the period of suspension. Each public school district shall develop and adopt guidelines stating the criteria school officials shall use in determining whether and to what extent such opportunity for completion will be granted to suspended students. The guidelines shall be provided to the student and parent or guardian at the time of suspension.
Nebraska Revised Statutes 79-268. Long-term suspension expulsion or mandatory reassignment; procedures; enumerated.
If a principal makes a decision to discipline a student by long-term suspension, expulsion, or mandatory reassignment, the following procedures shall be followed: (1) On the date of the decision, a written charge and a summary of the evidence supporting such charge shall be filed with the superintendent. The school shall, within two school days after the decision, send written notice by registered or certified mail to the student and his or her parent or guardian informing them of the rights established under the Student Discipline Act;
(2) Such written notice shall include the following:
- (a) The rule or standard of conduct allegedly violated and the acts of the student alleged to constitute a cause for long-term suspension, expulsion, or mandatory reassignment, including a summary of the evidence to be presented against the student;
- (b) The penalty, if any, which the principal has recommended in the charge and any other penalty to which the student may be subject;
- (c) A statement that, before long-term suspension, expulsion, or mandatory reassignment for disciplinary purposes can be invoked, the student has a right to a hearing, upon request, on the specified charges;
- (d) A description of the hearing procedures provided by the act, along with procedures for appealing any decision rendered at the hearing;
- (e) A statement that the principal, legal counsel for the school, the student, the student’s parent, or the student’s representative or guardian has the right (i) to examine the student’s academic and disciplinary records and any affidavits to be used at the hearing concerning the alleged misconduct and (ii) to know the identity of the witnesses to appear at the hearing and the substance of their testimony; and
- (f) A form on which the student, the student’s parent, or the student’s guardian may request a hearing, to be signed by such parties and delivered to the principal or superintendent in person or by registered or certified mail as prescribed in sections 79-271 and 79-272; and
(3) When a notice of intent to discipline a student by long-term suspension, expulsion, or mandatory reassignment is filed with the superintendent, the student may be suspended by the principal until the date the long-term suspension, expulsion, or mandatory reassignment takes effect if no hearing is requested or, if a hearing is requested, the date the hearing examiner makes the report of his or her findings and a recommendation of the action to be taken to the superintendent, if the principal determines that the student must be suspended immediately to prevent or substantially reduce the risk of (a) interference with an educational function or school purpose or (b) a personal injury to the student himself or herself, other students, school employees, or school volunteers.
The Student Discipline Act does not preclude the student or the student’s parent, guardian, or representative from discussing and settling the matter with appropriate school personnel prior to the hearing stage.
Nebraska Revised Statutes 79-269. Long-term suspension expulsion or mandatory reassignment; hearing; procedure; hearing examiner; how designated; examination of records.
(1) If a hearing is requested within five school days after receipt of the notice as provided in section 79-268, the superintendent shall appoint a hearing examiner who shall, within two school days after being appointed, give written notice to the principal, the student, and the student’s parent or guardian of the time and place for the hearing. (2) The hearing examiner shall be any person designated by the school district’s superintendent, school board or board of education, or counsel, if such person (a) has not brought the charges against the student, (b) shall not be a witness at the hearing, and (c) has no involvement in the charge. (3) The hearing shall be scheduled within a period of five school days after it is requested, but such time may be changed by the hearing examiner for good cause. No hearing shall be held upon less than two school days’ actual notice to the principal, the student, and the student’s parent or guardian, except with the consent of all the parties. (4) The principal or legal counsel for the school, the student, and the student’s parent, guardian, or representative have the right to examine the records and written statements referred to in the Student Discipline Act as well as the statement of any witness in the possession of the school board or board of education at a reasonable time prior to the hearing.