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Student Discipline

Legal Information
Young boy.

This section of PALawHelp.org has information and resources about Student Discipline issues in Pennsylvania.

Click on a resource category listed below to see information related to that category.

Student Rights: Suspension & Expulsion

Information from Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. on student rights in suspension and expulsion proceedings.

Mediation (Special Education)

Even when parents and school officials try their best to reach agreement on a student’s special education program, disagreements can occur. If this happens, mediation, which is a free, voluntary, and confidential alternative to a formal due process hearing, is an option. Mediation can take place at any time before or during the due process cycle. Mediation is not a required process and may not delay or deny a parent the right to a due process hearing. Information on the Mediation process from the Office of Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

Special Education Due Process Complaint Process and Forms

Information on the complaint process, including the Complaint Form, which is used to submit a formal complaint to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education. Office for Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

Rights in Suspension and Expulsion

Information on school suspensions and expulsions from the Erie County Bar Association. (February 2019)

School Attendance and Truancy

Information on compulsory school attendance from the Erie County Bar Association. (August 2018)

Children with Disabilities who are Bullied or Harassed at School

Information on some options available when your child With disabilities is being harassed by other students.

Expulsions in Pennsylvania: Information for Parents and Guardians

The Education Law Center - Pennsylvania provides information on what you should know if a School District or charter school wants to expel your child. [PDF] (August 2021)

Fairness in School Discipline in Pennsylvania: A Guide for Attorneys and Advocates Who Represent Students

This handbook from the Education Law Center - Pennsylvania discusses the law on school discipline in Pennsylvania, which derives from the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions; federal and state statutes, regulations, and case law; and policies of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, school districts, and individual schools. (2009)

Transfers to "Alternative Education Programs" in Philadelphia: Information for Parents and Guardians

Information from the Education Law Center - Pennsylvania on involuntary transfers of regular education students to a "alternative education programs" in Philadelphia. (March 2014)

When Can Your Child Be Expelled for Bringing Weapons to School? (Act 26) [PDF]

Information from the Education Law Center - Pennsylvania on expulsions under PA Act 26 based on possession of a weapon at school.

Bullying or Harassment Complaint Form Checklist

Learn about student’s rights to be free from bullying and harassment and what you can do as a parent or caregiver. This checklist can be used to guide you as you fill out a Bullying/Harassment Complaint. If your child’s school uses a certain form, use that form. If not, you can use this sample form.

Education Law Center

The Education Law Center is a non-profit legal advocacy and educational organization, dedicated to ensuring that all of Pennsylvania's children have access to a quality public education.

ELC’s 2021 Back-to-School Guide for Pennsylvania Public School Students

The Education Law Center (ELC) has updated its “Back-to-School” guide for families, students, and schools. The information and fact sheets now include COVID-related considerations for the upcoming school year.

The Right to Special Education In Pennsylvania: A Guide for Parents and Advocates [PDF]

This Guide describes the legal rules that govern the special education and early intervention programs in Pennsylvania for children from age three until schooling ends. (2021)

What to Do When Your Child is Bullied or Harassed: A Parent’s Guide to Advocacy in PA Public Schools

If the school knows that a current student is being bullied or harassed by another student at school, on school grounds, in school vehicles, at a designated bus stop or at any activity sponsored, supervised or sanctioned by the school, the school has a legal duty to investigate and take action to keep your child safe. The school should also provide your child supports and interventions when bullying or harassment occurs outside of school (including on social media) if it is substantially interfering with your child’s education or causing a threatening environment. This guide offers suggested steps to ensure the school fulfills these duties. (September 2019)

Mediation (Special Education)

Even when parents and school officials try their best to reach agreement on a student’s special education program, disagreements can occur. If this happens, mediation, which is a free, voluntary, and confidential alternative to a formal due process hearing, is an option. Mediation can take place at any time before or during the due process cycle. Mediation is not a required process and may not delay or deny a parent the right to a due process hearing. Information on the Mediation process from the Office of Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

Special Education Due Process Complaint Process and Forms

Information on the complaint process, including the Complaint Form, which is used to submit a formal complaint to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education. Office for Dispute Resolution (Special Education).

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