hearing officers that preside at other state administrative tribunals in order to conduct a student’s
expulsion hearing. 105
Though some states provide for the option of delegating hearing functions to independent
officials, very few require their use. 106 On the other hand, the District of Columbia’s school system
provides for an independent fact-finding hearing using an impartial hearing officer for long-term
suspensions or expulsions. 107 That officer makes a recommendation upon hearing the evidence,
which is then recommended to the Director of the District’s Office of Youth Engagement. 108 An
expulsion recommendation by the impartial hearing officer may then be appealed directly to the
District’s Chancellor of Education. 109 Throughout the process, the local school district remains an
adversarial party with the burden of proof, and the hearing officer oversees whether due process is
complied with. 110
Some legislatures require local districts to report long-term suspensions or expulsions to a
state entity, such as a state superintendent or department of education. 111 Such requirements
contemplate the severe nature of school exclusion as a discipline because they ensure against
districts using the tool at an overly frequent level. 112
A handful of states have requirements for how to handle the question of when a suspended
or expelled student may be reinstated early, if the student has met conditions for such
reinstatement. 113 Wisconsin, for example, requires an administrator other than one in the student’s
school to make the reinstatement evaluation. 114
iv. State Procedures in Review
A cursory review of state procedures for long-term discipline reveals that the
administration and school board form integral roles in the fact-finding functions imposed by most
state legislatures. Though some states separate the administration officials, such as building-level
administrators and district-level administrators from the fact-finding and adjudicatory function, 115
many states retain at least an option for those entities to play an adjudicatory role in the discipline
105 CAL. EDUC. CODE §§ 48918(d) (2016) (citing CAL. GOV. CODE § 27720 (2018)); CAL. EDUC. CODE § 35207 (2018).
106 See, e.g., CAL. EDUC. CODE § 48918(d); Rossi v. W. Haven Bd. of Educ., 359 F. Supp. 2d 178, 179 (D. Conn.
2005) (“The Board has delegated expulsion decisions to an impartial hearing officer.”).
107 D.C. MUN. REGS. tit. 5-B, § 2507.1.
108 Id. at § 2507.3.
109 Id. at § 2507.9.
110 Id. at §§ 2506.7-2506.9.
111 See MASS. GEN. LAWS ch. 76 § 16 (2014) (the State Board of Primary and Secondary Schools annually reviews
student exclusion days by districts. The code requires that districts who suspend students furnish reasons for the
suspensions to the State Board and provides any student unlawfully excluded with a right of action in tort for damages
against the board of education).
112 The Council of State Government’s Justice Center maintains a comprehensive source on student discipline
reporting requirements by state. See Council of State Governments, School Discipline Data: A Snapshot of Legislative
Action (Mar. 14, 2014), https://csgjusticecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/NCSL-School-Discipline-Data-
113 WIS. STAT. ANN. § 119.25(2)(d)(3) (2018).
115 See, e.g., D.C. MUN. REGS. tit. 5-B § 2505.1 (providing that medium- and long-term suspensions and expulsions
may be recommended by the principal, but may only be authorized by the Chancellor’s office); MINN. STAT. §
121A.47, subd. 6 (2017) (limiting the adjudicatory function of a student’s disciplinary hearing to an independent
hearing officer, individual school board member, school board committee, or full school board).