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Our son attends a private high school and has received an excessive

punishment for an infraction of...
Our son attends a private high school and has received an excessive punishment for an infraction of school policy. In addition, the details of the infraction have been shared outside of the administration. We are wondering what potential areas of legal recourse we may have.
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
3/9/2013
LawHelpNow
LawHelpNow, Attorney/Lawyer
Category: Education Law
Satisfied Customers: 7,639
Experience: Relax. Let's work together. Practical solutions.
Verified

LawHelpNow :

Hello,

LawHelpNow :

Could you briefly share the nature of the infraction and the punishment? Also, when the details were shared, who (in general) learned of them, please?

LawHelpNow :

Thanks!

LawHelpNow :

Ben, J.D.

Customer:

Hi, yes

Customer:

My son was one of a group of seven boys who jumped a fence and were on campus after school hours. Four of the boys entered the gymnasium, and vandalized (fireworks in a urinal, urination and defecation on floors and walls) it. My son did not enter, nor did he participate in any vandalism. All seven boys fled the school after the fireworks were set off.

Customer:

The school has a student/faculty disciplinary committee, and after the evidence was gathered and all punishment rendered, several of the students and faculty not associated with the committee have commented and gossiped about the issue. In fact, one of the teachers not associated with the disciplinary committee asked his class to write an essay about the issue.

Customer:

Details of the letter received regarding the incident.

Customer:

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hood,


This letter simply confirms in writing the results of the Discipline Committee (DC)
meeting held Thursday, February 28, 2013.


On Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 a group of seven seniors, including John, parked cars off
campus and snuck on campus through the KB Homes and jumping a fence north of the athletic
fields. Four of the boys entered a bathroom and vandalized it. This included defecating on the
floor and in two sinks, urinating on the walls and floor, as well as igniting a motor style firework.
When the firework went off the boys fled. As a result of this incident, John was referred to the
DC.


After reviewing the recommendation of the DC, Mr. Gilbert has decided on the
following consequences:


-
-


-
-
-


-


-


Five (5) days suspension beginning Feb27.


Letter of apology typed, signed and complete to Mr. Gilbert’s office Wednesday,
March 6.
Be stripped of elected school office (Student Council Vice President).
Loss of Senior Privileges: may not go off campus for lunch or attend the Senior Trip.
Will not attend Mission Week with the class. Will work on campus and in town with
adult supervision.
May not participate in any extra-curricular activities. This includes but is not limited
to: XXXXX XXXXX sports until after spring break, attending Prom, Baccalaureate and
Graduation.
The right to participate in the end of the year commencement activities may be
earned back with good behavior.


If there are infractions of Menaul School’s behavior expectations and policies, John will
appear before the discipline committee again. This is likely to lead to dismissal from Menaul
School and the opportunity to participate in the end of the year commencement activities will be


immediately forfeit.


Menaul School reserves the right to contact the Albuquerque Police Department if the
student disrupts any school activity on campus or off; harasses, bullies, intimidates, threatens,
or personally abuses another student or Menaul staff member in speech or on social media; or
retaliates in any way against another student, staff member, or any of their family members.

Customer:

We believe John's privacy was violated, and that he was unfairly judged based on what "the group" did, versus his direct actions.

Ask Your Own Education Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 years ago

I misunderstood...thought I lost you when you dropped offline. Can I re-rate when I get your answer?

Hello again John,
My name isXXXXX'm a licensed attorney. Glad to try and help out.
Sure sorry for the painful circumstances, truly. My heart goes out to you folks.
Accordingly, I'm happy to share some good news in the following sense.
Yes, you certainly do have every reason to seek redress here. In fact, there's a legal doctrine called defamation per se, meaning some statements are just so outrageous as to always be deemed defamatory. A very classic example is an unfounded accusation of a criminal offense such as you're described. What is of particular concern to me is two factors. First, the fact that your son did not engage in the vandalism, and in fact did not enter the premises, seems to have be entirely overlooked. Secondly, the dissemination of such details is cause for serious concern, and I absolutely share your views in this regard.
Having carefully read and considered everything you posted, here is what I would recommend based on the information you have shared. I would have the case screened on the merits by a plaintiffs' trial attorney. If an attorney accepts the case pursuant to the customary contingency fee agreement there would be no up-front charges to you. Rather, your legal counsel would only get paid out of the proceeds of a verdict or settlement if he or she were successful in obtaining a favorable outcome and winning the case on your behalf.
This can only be done through having a lawyer review your circumstances, meaning it cannot be done in this online informational venue. In other words, you have done all you can do, your next step at this juncture is to confer with legal counsel, but the good news is that process is entirely free of charge to you.
I can only imagine what a stressful and trying time this is for you, so please believe me I mean it when I say I am glad to say there is a way to seek justice without having the burden of trying to pay attorneys' fees . To help folks in this online venue, I am required to follow site rules including refraining from accepting cases and/or making direct referrals to named attorneys.
However, I can tell you where I would turn were I in your very shoes. Toward that end, my very next step would be to take advantage of the resources of the non-profit, American Bar Association accredited, National Board of Trial Advocacy Division of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification. Here is a listing of all such Board Certified Civil Trial Advocates practicing in your jurisdiction (please just click the following link):
New Mexico
There are many perfectly fine general referral resources available, but on account of the particular nature of your cause of action, the one I mentioned is definitely my personal preference. Given that this is a private institution, in particular, provides more incentive (for lack of a better description) for a reviewing attorney. Meaning, it's much more difficult to sue a public institution from both substantive and procedural points of view. Also, there's a legal doctrine called Respondeat Superior, which can make the employer liable to answer with its "deep pockets" in terms of monetary damages. The botXXXXX XXXXXne is that yes you do have every reason to proceed here.
If you have a follow-up question or need clarification, please just say the word by using "reply" to reach me.
I truly hope all works out for your son, and I send my best wishes to your entire family!
Take care,
Ben, J.D.
LawHelpNow
LawHelpNow, Attorney/Lawyer
Category: Education Law
Satisfied Customers: 7,639
Experience: Relax. Let's work together. Practical solutions.
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LawHelpNow and 87 other Education Law Specialists are ready to help you
Ask your own question now
Hello John,

I enjoyed working with you recently.

How are things going?

Is there anything else I can do to help?

Please just let me know.

Thanks!

Ben, J.D.
Ask Your Own Education Law Question
Customer reply replied 4 years ago

We meet with the school tomorrow. Depending on the outcome, I may follow up with local support as you suggested above. Thanks again for your help.

Hi there John,

You are quite welcome. My pleasure entirely!

Thank you for the kindness of your favorable rating, which I greatly appreciate!
I'll hold a good thought for you folks.

Best regards,

Ben, J.D.
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