Can a school punish a child based solely on the word of another student, without any evidence whatsoever?

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Can a school punish a child based solely on the word of another student, without any evidence whatsoever?

I am guardian to a 12 year-old child in middle school. School authorities put him in ISS for 2 days because another student told the principal that he was trying to sell her marijuana. They searched him without my knowledge, and although they found nothing, they still put in his file that he has in-school suspension for attempting to sell marijuana. They then gave him an extra day of ISS for “lying” when he said he was not guilty of the accusation. There’s no evidence whatsoever, only the word of another student. Can the school do this, or can I demand they remove this from his file?

Asked on April 3, 2011 under General Practice, Tennessee

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The law gives the school the right to question children without parents present and the right to search their lockers, etc., as it is on school property.  Their is no ownership or expectation of privacy in the locker.  But the school has an obligation to investigate fully and your ward has a right - as do you as their guardian - to make sure that nothing is in their personal file and they are not found guilty of something without any evidence.  I would strongly suggest that you seek consultation from an attorney in your area in the matter and set up a "conference" with the school district's superintendent to "discuss" the issue further.  Get help.  Good luck.


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