State law provides comprehensive assurances of due process for students facing disciplinary action.
North Carolina General Statutes 115C-390.11. Expulsion
(a) Upon recommendation of the superintendent, a local board of education may expel any student 14 years of age or older whose continued presence in school constitutes a clear threat to the safety of other students or school staff. Prior to the expulsion of any student, the local board shall conduct a hearing to determine whether the student's continued presence in school constitutes a clear threat to the safety of other students or school staff. The student shall be given reasonable notice of the recommendation in accordance with G.S. 115C-390.8(a) and (b), as well as reasonable notice of the time and place of the scheduled hearing. (1) The procedures described in G.S. 115C-390.8(e)(1)-(8) apply to students facing expulsion pursuant to this section, except that the decision to expel a student by the local board of education shall be based on clear and convincing evidence that the student's continued presence in school constitutes a clear threat to the safety of other students and school staff. (2) A local board of education may expel any student subject to G.S. 14-208.18 in accordance with the procedures of this section. Prior to ordering the expulsion of a student, the local board of education shall consider whether there are alternative education services that may be offered to the student. As provided by G.S. 14-208.18(f), if the local board of education determines that the student shall be provided educational services on school property, the student shall be under the supervision of school personnel at all times. (3) At the time a student is expelled under this section, the student shall be provided notice of the right to petition for readmission pursuant to G.S. 115C-390.12. (b) During the expulsion, the student is not entitled to be present on any property of the local school administrative unit and is not considered a student of the local board of education. Nothing in this section shall prevent a local board of education from offering access to some type of alternative educational services that can be provided to the student in a manner that does not create safety risks to other students and school staff.
North Carolina General Statutes 115C-390.6 Short-term suspension procedures.
(a) Except as authorized in this section, no short-term suspension shall be imposed upon a student without first providing the student an opportunity for an informal hearing with the principal. The notice to the student of the charges may be oral or written, and the hearing may be held immediately after the notice is given. The student has the right to be present, to be informed of the charges and the basis for the accusations, and to make statements in defense or mitigation of the charges.
(b) The principal may impose a short-term suspension without providing the student an opportunity for a hearing if the presence of the student creates a direct and immediate threat to the safety of other students or staff, or substantially disrupts or interferes with the education of other students or the maintenance of discipline at the school. In such cases, the notice of the charges and informal hearing described in subsection (a) of this section shall occur as soon as practicable.
(c) The principal shall provide notice to the student's parent of any short-term suspension, including the reason for the suspension and a description of the alleged student conduct upon which the suspension is based. The notice shall be given by the end of the workday during which the suspension is imposed when reasonably possible, but in no event more than two days after the suspension is imposed. The notice shall be given by certified mail, telephone, facsimile, e-mail, or any other method reasonably designed to achieve actual notice.
(d) If English is the second language of the parent, the notice shall be provided in the parent's primary language, when the appropriate foreign language resources are readily available, and in English, and both versions shall be in plain language and shall be easily understandable.
(e) A student is not entitled to appeal the principal's decision to impose a short-term suspension to the superintendent or local board of education. Further, such a decision is not subject to judicial review. Notwithstanding this subsection, the local board of education, in its discretion, may provide students an opportunity for a review or appeal of a short-term suspension to the superintendent or local board of education.
North Carolina General Statutes 115C-390.7. Long-term suspension
(a) A principal may recommend to the superintendent the long-term suspension of any student who willfully engages in conduct that violates a provision of the Code of Student Conduct that authorizes long-term suspension. Only the superintendent has the authority to long-term suspend a student. (b) Before the superintendent's imposition of a long-term suspension, the student must be provided an opportunity for a hearing consistent with G.S. 115C-390.8. (c) If the student recommended for long-term suspension declines the opportunity for a hearing, the superintendent shall review the circumstances of the recommended long-term suspension. Following such review, the superintendent (i) may impose the suspension if is it consistent with board policies and appropriate under the circumstances, (ii) may impose another appropriate penalty authorized by board policy, or (iii) may decline to impose any penalty. (d) If a teacher is assaulted or injured by a student and as a result the student is long-term suspended or reassigned to alternative education services, the student shall not be returned to that teacher's classroom unless the teacher consents. (e) Disciplinary reassignment of a student to a full-time educational program that meets the academic requirements of the standard course of study established by the State Board of Education as provided in G.S. 115C-12 and provides the student with the opportunity to make timely progress towards graduation and grade promotion is not a long-term suspension requiring the due process procedures described in G.S. 115C-390.8.
North Carolina General Statutes 115C-390.8 Long-term suspension procedures.
(a) When a student is recommended by the principal for long-term suspension, the principal shall give written notice to the student's parent. The notice shall be provided to the student's parent by the end of the workday during which the suspension was recommended when reasonably possible or as soon thereafter as practicable. The written notice shall provide at least the following information:
- (1) A description of the incident and the student's conduct that led to the long-term suspension recommendation.
- (2) A reference to the provisions of the Code of Student Conduct that the student is alleged to have violated.
- (3) The specific process by which the parent may request a hearing to contest the decision, including the number of days within which the hearing must be requested.
- (4) The process by which a hearing will be held, including, at a minimum, the procedures described in subsection (e) of this section.
- (5) Notice that the parent is permitted to retain an attorney to represent the student in the hearing process.
- (6) The extent to which the local board policy permits the parent to have an advocate, instead of an attorney, accompany the student to assist in the presentation of his or her appeal.
- (7) Notice that the parent has the right to review and obtain copies of the student's educational records before the hearing.
- (8) A reference to the local board policy on the expungement of discipline records as required by G.S. 115C-402.
(b) Written notice may be provided by certified mail, fax, e-mail, or any other written method reasonably designed to achieve actual notice of the recommendation for long-term suspension. When school personnel are aware that English is not the primary language of the parent or guardian, the notice shall be written in both English and in the primary language of the parent or guardian when the appropriate foreign language resources are readily available. All notices described in this section shall be written in plain English, and shall include the following information translated into the dominant non-English language used by residents within the local school administrative unit:
- (1) The nature of the document, i.e., that it is a long-term suspension notice.
- (2) The process by which the parent may request a hearing to contest the long-term suspension.
- (3) The identity and phone number of a school employee that the parent may call to obtain assistance in understanding the English language information included in the document.
(c) No long-term suspension shall be imposed on a student until an opportunity for a formal hearing is provided to the student. If a hearing is timely requested, it shall be held and a decision issued before a long-term suspension is imposed, except as otherwise provided in this subsection. The student and parent shall be given reasonable notice of the time and place of the hearing.
- (1) If no hearing is timely requested, the superintendent shall follow the procedures described in G.S. 115C-390.7(c).