State law provides comprehensive assurances of due process for students facing disciplinary action.
Pennsylvania Unconsolidated Statutes 1949 Act 14. Section 1318. Suspension and Expulsion of Pupils
Every principal or teacher in charge of a public school may temporarily suspend any pupil on account of disobedience or misconduct, and any principal or teacher suspending any pupil shall promptly notify the district superintendent or secretary of the board of school directors. The board may, after a proper hearing, suspend such child for such time as it may determine, or may permanently expel him. Such hearings, suspension, or expulsion may be delegated to a duly authorized committee of the board, or to a duly qualified hearing examiner, who need not be a member of the board, but whose adjudication must be approved by the board.
The Pennsylvania Code § 12.6. Exclusions from school
(a) The governing board shall define and publish the types of offenses that would lead to exclusion from school. Exclusions affecting certain students with disabilities shall be governed by § 14.143 (relating to disciplinary placements) and 34 CFR 300.519 -- 300.529 (relating to discipline procedures). (b) Exclusion from school may take the form of suspension or expulsion. (1) Suspension is exclusion from school for a period of from 1 to 10 consecutive school days. (i) Suspensions may be given by the principal or person in charge of the public school. (ii) A student may not be suspended until the student has been informed of the reasons for the suspension and given an opportunity to respond. Prior notice of the intended suspension need not be given when it is clear that the health, safety or welfare of the school community is threatened. (iii) The parents or guardians and the superintendent of the district shall be notified immediately in writing when the student is suspended. (iv) When the suspension exceeds 3 school days, the student and parent shall be given the opportunity for an informal hearing consistent with the requirements in § 12.8(c) (relating to hearings). ...
The Pennsylvania Code § 12.8. Hearings.
(a) General. Education is a statutory right, and students shall be afforded due process if they are to be excluded from school. In a case involving a possible expulsion, the student is entitled to a formal hearing.
(b) Formal hearings. A formal hearing is required in all expulsion actions. This hearing may be held before the governing board or an authorized committee of the board, or a qualified hearing examiner appointed by the board. When a committee of the board or a hearing examiner conducts the hearing, a majority vote of the entire governing board is required to expel a student. The following due process requirements shall be observed with regard to the formal hearing:
- (1) Notification of the charges shall be sent to the student's parents or guardians by certified mail.
- (2) At least 3 days' notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be given. A copy of the expulsion policy, notice that legal counsel may represent the student and hearing procedures shall be included with the hearing notice. A student may request the rescheduling of the hearing when the student demonstrates good cause for an extension.
- (3) The hearing shall be held in private unless the student or parent requests a public hearing.
- (4) The student may be represented by counsel, at the expense of the parents or guardians, and may have a parent or guardian attend the hearing.
- (5) The student has the right to be presented with the names of witnesses against the student, and copies of the statements and affidavits of those witnesses.
- (6) The student has the right to request that the witnesses appear in person and answer questions or be cross-examined.
- (7) The student has the right to testify and present witnesses on his own behalf.
- (8) A written or audio record shall be kept of the hearing. The student is entitled, at the student's expense, to a copy. A copy shall be provided at no cost to a student who is indigent.
- (9) The proceeding shall be held within 15 school days of the notification of charges, unless mutually agreed to by both parties. A hearing may be delayed for any of the following reasons, in which case the hearing shall be held as soon as reasonably possible:
- (i) Laboratory reports are needed from law enforcement agencies.
- (ii) Evaluations or other court or administrative proceedings are pending due to a student invoking his rights under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C.A. §§ 1400 -- 1482).
- (iii) In cases in juvenile or criminal court involving sexual assault or serious bodily injury, delay is necessary due to the condition or best interests of the victim.
- (10) Notice of a right to appeal the results of the hearing shall be provided to the student with the expulsion decision.
(c) Informal hearings. The purpose of the informal hearing is to enable the student to meet with the appropriate school official to explain the circumstances surrounding the event for which the student is being suspended or to show why the student should not be suspended.