The act clarifies the school expulsion hearing (hearing) process, including the following:
- A school district has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that a student violated state law and the school district's policy;
- A school district is required to provide all supporting evidence for expulsion or denial of admission to the student or the student's parent, guardian, or legal custodian at least 2 business days in which school is in session prior to the hearing; and
- Hearing officers are required to consider specific factors at the conclusion of a hearing including the age of the student, disciplinary history of the student, whether the student has a disability, the seriousness of the violation, whether the violation threatened the safety of any student or staff member, and whether a lesser intervention could properly address the violation.
A hearing officer must not have a conflict of interest with a student under consideration for expulsion or denial of admission or any alleged victim. A school district must ensure that hearing officers receive training on how to serve impartially.
The act requires the department of education (department), on or before June 30, 2024, to create and maintain the online training program for expulsion hearing officers. Beginning January 1, 2025, hearing officers are required to complete initial and ongoing training. The training program must include information on:
- Child and adolescent brain development;
- Restorative justice;
- Alternatives to expulsion;
- Trauma-informed practices;
- Conflict and bias in discipline, suspension, and expulsion; and
- The requirements and implementation of applicable federal and state laws.
School districts, district charter schools authorized to expel or suspend students, or the state charter school institute may develop and provide their own training program to hearing officers and school administrators that meets or exceeds the requirements of the department's training program.
The act requires the board of education of each school district to adopt a policy that a student must not be expelled or denied admission unless the school district considers whether alternative remedies are appropriate and whether excluding the student from school is necessary to preserve the learning environment.
The act clarifies the judicial proceedings process available to a student or the student's parents, guardians, or legal custodians to set aside the school district board of education's decision to expel or deny admission to the student.
The act appropriates $162,720 from the general fund to the department for hearing officer training and support.
APPROVED by Governor June 1, 2023
EFFECTIVE June 1, 2023
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)