An analysis of the law concerning due process, and student suspension and expulsion in Georgia public schools
Davidson, Eric Robert
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The primary function of a public school is to educate children. This education requires some degree of order in the school. Historically, school administrators had virtually unlimited authority to deal with student disciplinary problems. This has changed over the past 60 years with the federal judiciary ruling on numerous cases affecting student disciplinary proceedings. This judicial intervention has resulted in students’ being afforded a higher degree of the due process protections. Research for this study focused on analyzing data from federal and state statutes, case law, U.S. Supreme Court and appellate court opinions, Georgia State Board of Education decisions, as well as legal commentary and historical documents. These data were used to track the historical development of the law impacting upon students’ access to due process rights when being suspended or expelled from school. Among the findings of this study are: 1. Due process rights expanded from Magna Carta (1215) to the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. 2. Important property and liberty rights are associated with public education. These rights may not be abridged without providing students’ due process under the law (Goss v. Lopez, 1975). 3. The Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of property and liberty rights requires that where a person’s good name, reputation, honor, or integrity is at stake because of what the government is doing to him, the minimal requirements of the Due Process Clause must be satisfied. Suspension or expulsion from school has been found to affect a person’s good name, reputation, honor, and integrity (Goss v. Lopez, 1975). 4. State agencies, including school systems, must recognize a student’s basic due process rights including notice of charges, the right to a hearing, the right of appeal, the right to counsel, and privilege against self-incrimination (In re Gault, 1967).
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