STUDENT DISCIPLINARY HEARING
Disciplinary Hearing Officers are independent decision makers appointed by the Board of Education to hear disciplinary matters. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary here within, Disciplinary Hearing Officers have the authority to issue a short-term suspension, long-term suspension, or expulsion of any student found to have violated the Code of Conduct. If a hearing is called, the student will be suspended from school until the hearing can be held. The hearing will be held no later than ten (10) school days after the beginning of the suspension unless the parent and school mutually agree to an extension or the conduct of the student or parent causes a delay beyond said ten (10)-day period. Prior to the hearing, students and parents will receive a notice to include the following:
1. The rules which the student has allegedly violated.
2. A description of the student’s acts.
3. The names of the witnesses who may testify against the student (witnesses may be added prior to and during the hearing).
4. The maximum punishment that the student could receive. K-12 Student-Parent Handbook, 2020-21
5. The time and place for the hearing.
6. That the student is entitled to require witnesses to be present at the hearing and the student will have the right to present evidence, examine any and all witnesses presented and have an attorney at the student’s expense, to represent the student. School administrators should be notified prior to the hearing if a subpoena is to be issued by the Superintendent.
Parents/guardians should contact the school if they would like the notice and other documents related to the hearing in a language other than English. Language interpreter services are also available, upon request, for a student disciplinary hearing.
At the hearing, students and parents will have the right to present witnesses and evidence, to examine any and all witnesses presented, and to have an attorney, at the parent’s expense, to represent the student. Any teacher called as a witness shall be given notice no later than 3 days prior to the hearing. O.C.G.A. § 20-2-754(b)(4). The decision of the Disciplinary Hearing Officer may be appealed by submitting a written notice of appeal to the Superintendent within twenty (20) calendar days from the date the decision is made.
A student disciplinary hearing is formal, although the strict rules of evidence as applied in a court do not apply in a disciplinary hearing, the school has the burden of proving that the student engaged in acts that violated the student code of conduct. The student will have the opportunity to present evidence and/or witnesses for the Disciplinary Hearing Officer’s consideration, but is not required to do so. The Disciplinary Hearing Officer will determine whether the student committed or did not violate the code of conduct as set forth by the school.
The Disciplinary Hearing Officer shall make a verbatim or written record of any information orally presented at the hearing. A transcript of the hearing will not be prepared unless there is an appeal to the Board of Education. The record and documentary evidence shall be kept on file by the Superintendent or designee for a period of twenty (20) days after the date of the decision of the Disciplinary Hearing Officer. If no appeal is filed within twenty (20) days of the date of the decision of the Disciplinary Hearing Officer, the record and documentary evidence may be destroyed. If an appeal is filed, the record and documentary evidence will be kept until thirty-one (31) days after the appeal(s) become final at which time the record and documentary evidence may be destroyed.
All parties shall be afforded an opportunity to present and respond to evidence and to examine and cross-examine witnesses about any matters logically relevant to the charge against the student. The Disciplinary Hearing Officer may limit unproductively long or irrelevant questioning.
The parents or legal guardian of the student may give testimony at the hearing and make a statement to the Disciplinary Hearing Officer concerning their feelings about the proper disposition of the case and to answer any questions. The student may be represented by counsel at the student’s expense at the hearing. If parents intend to be represented by counsel at the disciplinary hearing, the parents must notify the school twenty-four (24) hours prior to the start of the hearing so that the school district may elect to retain legal counsel to represent its interests. Failure to notify the District of a student being represented by counsel may cause a delay or continuance of the hearing.
All parties shall be entitled to subpoena witnesses for the hearing. A student or parent/guardian shall submit all requests for subpoenas to the student’s principal at least three (3) days prior to the time of the disciplinary hearing.
All student disciplinary proceedings and hearings conducted by either the Disciplinary Hearing Officer or the Board of Education are confidential and are not subject to the open meetings law. Only the following persons are permitted to attend a school disciplinary hearing conducted by a Disciplinary Hearing Officer: the accused student, parents or legal guardians of the accused student, legal counsel, a provider of interpretative services, school staff, and witnesses. Any written records, transcripts, exhibits or other documents assembled or used in any manner with regard to the conduct of any student disciplinary hearing are not public records and are not subject to public inspection.
Students who receive long-term suspension, expulsion or permanent expulsion may file an appeal to the Henry County Board of Education. The student’s appeal must be in writing and delivered to the Superintendent. When a hearing is appealed, the Henry County Board of Education will review the transcript of the hearing, make a decision based solely on the record, and notify students and parents, in writing, of the Board’s decision. At the hearing before the Board, students have the right to be represented at the students’ and parents’ expense, by an attorney. The attorney will not, however, be permitted an oral argument at the disciplinary hearing appeal. Students and parents may appeal the Board’s decision to the State Board of Education by giving the Superintendent written notice within thirty (30) days of the decision of the Henry County Board of Education.
WAIVER OF STUDENT DISCIPLINARY HEARING
A parent/guardian and student may choose to waive the student disciplinary hearing and accept the school’s recommended disciplinary response for the violation of the code of conduct by reviewing and signing a disciplinary hearing waiver prior to the scheduled disciplinary hearing date. To schedule a waiver conference, parents may contact the Dpt. of Student Conduct and Prevention before the day of the scheduled disciplinary hearing. A waiver can also be signed at the scheduled disciplinary hearing. By signing the waiver, the parent/guardian and student agree to and accept the disciplinary recommendation and waive their rights to challenge and/or appeal the waiver at a later date.