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Colleen Grady
Colleen Grady, Attorney and Councelor at Law
Category: Education Law
Satisfied Customers: 486
Experience:  Assistant Principal, 17 years in the field of Education
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My son's 7th grade classmate called my son a hurtful

Customer Question

My son's 7th grade classmate called my son a hurtful swearing name in the school hallway and my son replied "peanuthead". Later the same day the classmate reported to the school office that my son called him a racist name. The school administrator called me on the same day to tell me my son is suspended for 2 days for bullying. The administrator allowed me to speak with my son and my son told me 2 student witnesses heard the conversation in the hallway and would confirm that he didn't say the racist name. The administrator told me she would speak with the witnesses and call me back. She called me back and told me the witnesses told her they didn't hear my son say the racist name, however, she can't change her decision and my son is suspended 2 days. How would I approach the school about removing the suspension for bullying from my son's school record? Please help.
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Customer: I haven't consulted a lawyer.
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Customer: We live in Michigan.
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Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Education Law
Expert:  Colleen Grady replied 6 months ago.
Hello. I will help you with your questions. I have been an attorney for 27 years and in the field of Education for 17 years. Can you please tell me:Is this public school and what state are you in?Can I have the name of the school? I would like to look for the Student Handbook Online.
Expert:  Colleen Grady replied 6 months ago.
I just saw that you live in Michigan. If you can give me information about the school that will help.
Expert:  Colleen Grady replied 6 months ago.
If your son goes to a public school, there are many more rights than a student who goes to a private school. Either way, the school should be following the discipline procedures described in the Student/Parent Handbook.When there is an external suspension, there is usually a requirement that you receive a written statement of the charges and an opportunity for a hearing or a meeting with administration. If you are not given these basic opportunities to be heard, you can complaint to the Superintendent if this is a public school.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
The school is Reach Charter Academy and is a public charter school in Roseville, Michigan. The school handbook is available online and I downloaded a copy to my desktop. The incident occurred this past Fri.May 20th and the dean spoke with me by phone on the same afternoon. I believe it would be a good idea to call the dean and ask to set up a meeting with her and the principal this week if possible.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
My son brought the written notice to me on Friday and he's convinced he did not use the racist name. He speaks very quickly and sometimes he is not heard clearly.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I think it would be a good idea to meet with the school dean and the principal and:
*reflect positively about what is working at school and at home
*tell them I have used this as a learning experience to talk with my son about bullying
*tell them I'm concerned because I believe the description of the incident is incomplete and unfair as it did not reflect information provided individually by 2 eyewitnesses and ask them what they think.
Please share your input.
Expert:  Colleen Grady replied 6 months ago.
I am concerned that the "racist" information will be on his record. If he did not say anything racist, then that should be erased. I agree this should be a learning experience and you and the school should support this goal. I also think there should be more evidence, beyond the testimony of the other boy. I am trying to find the handbook on the website. When I read that I will provide more input.
Expert:  Colleen Grady replied 6 months ago.
I found the handbook. Here are some procedure that you should be sure the school follows:"The student will be granted a right to due process as described in the Due Process Procedures of this Student Code of Conduct. 1. The student will be informed of the charges against him/her, and, if the student denies the charges, the school administration shall provide the student with an explanation of the evidence.2. The student shall be provided an opportunity to explain his/her version of the facts."In the handbook, there is a section on bullying:"2. A report of bullying or harassing behavior should be done in written form, providing as much information as possible."I think it is important that you ask to have a copy of that written report so you can address inaccuracies.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I sent an email to the school dean and I wrote "I would like to review a copy of any written report of bullying or harassing behavior that includes my son and I could pick it up from the main office in advance." I'm waiting for her reply.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
The dean did not reply to my email request to review a copy of the written report. Her reply only stated "We can meet on Thursday morning.
My reply to the dean was "I would still like to review a copy of any written report of bullying or harassing behavior that includes Thomas." and "If you would please let me know if I could review the requested copy before meeting with you on Thursday."
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I will wait for the deans reply as I believe it's important to obtain the written report before the meeting so I can review it and address inaccuracies at the meeting. Please feel free to share any input.
Expert:  Colleen Grady replied 6 months ago.
You have the absolute right under Federal FERPA Law is inspect your child's entire educational record. Here is what the federal law 20 U.S. Code § 1232g - Family educational and privacy rights says:(a)Conditions for availability of funds to educational agencies or institutions; inspection and review of education records; specific information to be made available; procedure for access to education records; reasonableness of time for such access; hearings; written explanations by parents; definitions(1)(A)No funds shall be made available under any applicable program to any educational agency or institution which has a policy of denying, or which effectively prevents, the parents of students who are or have been in attendance at a school of such agency or at such institution, as the case may be, the right to inspect and review the education records of their children. If any material or document in the education record of a student includes information on more than one student, the parents of one of such students shall have the right to inspect and review only such part of such material or document as relates to such student or to be informed of the specific information contained in such part of such material. Each educational agency or institution shall establish appropriate procedures for the granting of a request by parents for access to the education records of their children within a reasonable period of time, but in no case more than forty-five days after the request has been made.(B) No funds under any applicable program shall be made available to any State educational agency (whether or not that agency is an educational agency or institution under this section) that has a policy of denying, or effectively prevents, the parents of students the right to inspect and review the education records maintained by the State educational agency on their children who are or have been in attendance at any school of an educational agency or institution that is subject to the provisions of this section.The Reach Academy FERPA rules state as follows:REACH CHARTER ACADEMY Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) PolicyIt is the policy of the Board to protect the privacy of students and their parents by restricting access to the student’s non-directory educational records and by allowing parents access to their child’s educational records in accordance with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).I believe you should write the Dean back and ask to see all reports pertaining to the incident pursuant to the Family Educational Rights Act (FERPA). You may also ask to inspect his entire file.The school could be held liable for violating Federal Law if they don't give you access to this information. If they deny you a right to this information, you could file a complaint. You can file a written FERPA complaint electronically with the US Department of Education by going to the following link: http://familypolicy.ed.gov/sites/fpco.ed.gov/files/EComplaint%20form%20FERPA_04-13-16.pdf This must be done within 180 of denial of your inspection rights.Please let me know if I can help further. If you are satisfied with my help, please rate my service.

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