Whether a student is disciplined in middle school or graduate school, he or she may be entitled to certain rights during the disciplinary proceeding. Students in public schools and colleges/universities have certain limited due process rights, depending on the circumstances. Students in private schools may have certain rights under the school's own student handbook. Further, federal and state law provide certain unique rights for students with disabilities who are disciplined. At the beginning of the disciplinary process, an attorney can be a valuable resource who reviews the circumstances to determine whether the student in fact violated the school's code of conduct and whether the school's disciplinary process was conducted appropriately. An attorney can also be an effective advocate who works with the school in an effort to determine the appropriate consequences, if any, for the student's actions. Finally, an attorney can assist you in pursuing all available methods of appeal and if necessary, litigation to challenge an outcome.
Title IX Issues
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex-based discrimination in public and private schools that receive federal funding. That means that if you have been the victim of sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurism, exhibitionism, or other sex-based violence while a student, teacher/faculty member, or staff member of a school or university, you may have certain rights. An attorney can help you understand those rights and can support you as an advisor in any subsequent school or police investigation. An attorney can also pursue your rights in court as appropriate.
Harassment and Bullying
Bullying is not a matter of kids being kids. Virginia law requires all school districts to prohibit bullying in their student code of conduct. Further, bullying on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability may rise to the level of harassment, triggering the protections of federal civil rights law. An attorney can help you work with a school to address incidents of bullying and/or harassment targeting your child.
Special Education Matters
Federal and Virginia law both provide certain rights and protections for students with qualifying disabilities who are in need of special education and related services in order to receive the free appropriate public education to which they are entitled. While the use of an attorney is not necessary when working with schools to advocate for a child, special education law is complex. An attorney can help parents navigate the complexities and can be an effective voice for children's rights when working with school systems.
Faculty Representation in Campus Administrative Proceedings
Faculty members charged with a violation of University policy often have the right to be accompanied by counsel during University proceedings. Even if an attorney is not permitted to speak during official portions of the proceedings, the attorney can provide valuable advice on faculty rights, can prepare the faculty member to best advocate for him- or herself during the proceedings, and can review and comment on all documents that may be placed in the faculty member's file. An attorney can assist during all appeals, and if necessary, litigation.
Other Types of Representation
The types of legal representation outlined above are only a sample of the types of education matters that might arise. Feel free to contact me in order to determine whether an attorney might be helpful in your unique situation.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6655 Williamsburg, VA 23188