Education is a very important right for every student. When a student is expelled or excluded from school, the result is a serious loss for the student, the family, and society. The Pupil Fair Dismissal Act (PFDA) is the state law that governs student discipline. Please visit the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) Pupil Fair Dismissal Act web page for a copy of the PFDA.
Every public school district, including charter schools must have a discipline policy that explains when a student may be dismissed from school. You or your student should receive a copy or summary of this policy at the beginning of the school year.
An expulsion/exclusion is the most serious consequence of inappropriate behavior and requires school board action to remove a student from school for up to one calendar year for an expulsion (or up to the end of the school year for an exclusion).
A student can be expelled or excluded for willful violation of a reasonable school board regulation; willful conduct that significantly disrupts the rights of other students to an education or the rights of school staff to perform their duties; or willful conduct that endangers the student, others, or school property. Students are most commonly expelled/excluded from school for possession of a weapon (ex. pocketknife) or illegal drugs.
The district must provide you and your student with a written Notice of Expulsion/Exclusion. This notice must include a complete statement of the facts; a list of witnesses and description of testimony; date, time, and place of the hearing; and a copy of the PFDA. This notice must also inform parents and the student of their right to obtain a legal representative of their choosing; to obtain free or low cost legal assistance; to examine the student’s educational record; and to present evidence and confront and cross-examine witnesses at the hearing.
The district must inform you of your right to request a hearing. Often, you will have already received a notice of suspension, which will state the district is suspending your student pending an expulsion/exclusion. Your student cannot be expelled/excluded without having a hearing unless you or your student waives the right to a hearing in writing. The hearing is closed to the public unless the student requests that it be an open proceeding and must be held within ten days of the Notice of the Expulsion. The hearing must be held at a time and place that is reasonable and convenient for the student and parent and recorded at district expense. If the proposed hearing date does not work for you, you can request it to be changed. The hearing officer must make a recommendation to the school board within two days of the hearing. The school board decides whether your student will be expelled/excluded within five calendar days of receiving the hearing officer’s decision.
You and your student have the right to hire an attorney or to have someone of your choice represent your student at the expulsion/exclusion hearing. A list of free and reduced-cost legal resources is available on the Student Discipline and Truancy web page.
If your student is expelled/excluded from school and you disagree with the school board decision, you can appeal the decision by filing an appeal with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) within 21 calendar days of the date of the school board’s decision. You can fax your appeal to 651-582-8725, including the name of your student, the school district, and the date of the expulsion. The district has 5 days to provide a written transcript and a copy of the expulsion record to you and to MDE. You may submit a written position to MDE and the district within 10 days of receipt of the hearing record. The district has 10 days to respond. MDE has 30 days to issue a decision on the appeal.
If your student is expelled/excluded, the district or charter school must offer your student alternative education services at another location so that your student can continue to work toward graduation requirements. If you do not like the services offered by the district or charter school, you can independently enroll your student in another school district or charter school (including online programs) or a non-public school (private or home school).
If your student is expelled/excluded from school, your student is not permitted to be present at any school or district buildings, grounds, school buses, school functions, activities, or trips except for the purposes of attending an alternative education program as part of the student’s disciplinary action.
Yes. Similar to a non-disabled peer, a special education student can be expelled/excluded from school for behavior that violates a district’s discipline policy or state law. Please see the “Student Dismissal and Positive Behavior Intervention FAQ,” available on the Expulsions and Exclusions web page. You can also review the related federal regulations found at Title 34, Code of Federal Regulations, sections 530 through 536 and Minnesota Statutes, section 121A.43.
It is your responsibility as a parent to be familiar with your district’s discipline policy. You can usually find this policy in your student’s school or district handbook or on the district’s website. If you do not have a copy of your student’s handbook contact your student’s district. It is also your responsibility to make sure that the district has your most current daytime phone number. As a parent, you are the most important advocate for your student’s interests. The best thing to do in an expulsion/exclusion situation is to remain calm and talk with your student about what happened. Then you will know how to move forward and be prepared to talk with school officials. If you have further questions about the expulsion/exclusion process, including special education questions, contact MDE’s Division of Compliance and Assistance at 651-582-8689.
Disclaimer: The law often changes, and each case is different. This document is meant to give you general information and does not provide specific legal advice. Please use the information in this document carefully as this information may not accurately reflect any changes in the law that occurred following the creation or translation of this document.