If after school my 8th grader dropped a paper from her notebook with profanity, does the school have a right to suspend her?

A teacher picked it up and returned it to her, yet he told the principal, who threatened suspension. The paper, upon further investigation, proved to have few “bad words” yet were not directed to anyone in general (lyrics to a song) and was not written during school hours. What actions can I take?

Asked on April 4, 2014 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

A school can suspend students for acts which threaten others, which disrupt learning, or which represent infractions of school policies. If  the school had an anti-profanity policy in policy, or some other policy which would apply, they may have the right to suspend her. If the suspension or other punishment, however, seems or becomes disproportionate to the offense, then you may able to challenge it (students have a right to an education and to due process). If it seems to get to that point and you cannot make headway on your own (e.g. by speaking to district-level supervisors), you may wish to retain an attorney to help you.


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