Know Your Rights: Expulsions

Important definitions:1

An expulsion means any disciplinary action imposed by a school board or a committee thereof, as provided in school board policy, whereby a student is not permitted to attend school within the school division and is ineligible for readmission for 365 calendar days after the date of the expulsion.” Or, in other words, when a student is kicked out of a school and not allowed to return for a year. 

An exclusion i “means a denial of school admission to a student who has been expelled or has been placed on a long-term suspension of more than 30 calendar days by another school board or a private school, either in Virginia or another state, or for whom admission has been withdrawn by a private school in Virginia or another state.” Or, in other words, when a student isn’t allowed into a school due to an issue at a different school.

  • No student in preschool through 3rd grade can be expelled for more than three (3) school days unless:2 
    • The conduct involves physical harm or credible threat of physical harm to others or
    • The local school board or superintendent finds that aggravating circumstances exist 
  • The school cannot expel a student without approval from the division school board, even if the parent does not appeal the expulsion. The student, parent, or caregiver will receive a written notice from the school with a recommendation for expulsion that the school board will review. 
  • The student, parent or caregiver must receive written notice about the expulsion. The expulsion notice must contain information on the length of expulsion and information on community-based education programs that may be available for the student. It should also have information on whether or not the student has access to the division’s alternative education program during the expulsion period. 
  • Students with an individual education program (IEP) must be given free and appropriate public education (FAPE) even if suspended or expelled. Often schools claim they are providing FAPE with homebased or the alternative education programs, but those programs aren’t always adequate. Parents may push back on this if their child has an IEP and is not receiving a free and adequate education. 
  • If a student is expelled from school, the student, parent, or caregiver must receive written notice of their right to a hearing to have the expulsion overturned. Please review the notice and your school division’s Board policies to learn more about whether the hearing is with the entire School Board or with a Board committee of at least three (3) Board members.  
    • If a committee decision is not unanimous to uphold the expulsion, this decision can be appealed to the Board, which must decide within 30 days of receiving the appeal. 
  • Local school divisions may also have policies for expulsion where the appeal is heard by the superintendent or their designee. The superintendent’s decision after the hearing is final unless the student, parent, or caregiver writes and sends a petition to the School Board. 
  • In the written notice about expulsion, the school must include information about other educational programs, including the division’s alternative education program(s) and community-based programs. Community-based program options may charge tuition and the school. 
    • Unfortunately, in many areas there are no alternate programs. If there’s no information about alternative or community-based education programs listed on the expulsion notice, caregivers should ask. 
  • The school division may deny enrollment in the alternative education program and must inform the student and caregiver of this in writing.3  
  • A student who has been expelled or suspended for more than 30 days may be denied enrollment to another school  division or private school if the school division determines the student presents a danger to other students or staff. The school must do the following to deny enrollment: 
    • The superintendent must review the student’s application and recommend exclusion; 
    • The school must give written notice to the student and parent or caregiver that the student may be denied enrollment and the reasons for this denial; and
    • The school must give the student or caregiver the right to appeal this exclusion at a hearing with the School Board or a Board committee. 
  • Parents and caregivers may apply for the student’s readmission to school for the student to return one calendar year after the expulsion date. The School Board or Board committee will review these applications or petitions. If the application is denied, the parent, caregiver, or student may petition the School Board to review this denial. 
    • For students who were expelled with conditions for readmission by their school, the local School Board where the student is applying for enrollment or readmission may require or waive any or all of the conditions of readmission. 

1: Va. Code § 22.1-276.01

2: Va. Code § 22.1-277

3: Va. Code §  22.1-277.2

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