Legal Question in Education Law in California

My daughter got into a fight with another student after school, off campus. The children road the bus home, got off and walked well over 2 blks away - bus had been gone up to 15-20 minutes. My child confronted girl that had been bullying her (school knew - did nothing at all, her father is/was a teacher at the school) The girls spoke / argued and my daughter walked away... thought about it and went back and they argued more, the other girl laughed at my daughters bullying claim and my daughter punched her once in the cheek. My daughter was called in the next day and suspended for 5 days - no call to me, no explination. Earthquake drill rang and VP allowed my daughter to walk away unsupervised, knowing she was upset that her bully wasn't in trouble but she was. During the drill my daughter found the other girl and beat her up. She was suspended pending a hearing - other childs father (teacher) requested not to suspend my child - after 3 weeks we finally had a hearing and she was put on a stipulated expulsion - meaning she was expelled until the end of the quarter. My daughter was out a total of 3 months. To this day nothing at all has happened to the child that bullied my daughter... I can go on and on about that - I just want to know if they had grounds to suspend to begin with... and would I have a case against the school / district for failing to protect my child against bullying on the bus and on campus.

Asked on 4/23/14, 10:54 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Andrew Harrell W. Andrew Harrell, Attorney at Law

With respect to the original incident, the school had no control over either student after they left the bus and walked two blocks. (In cases where a students leaves a bus, walks a couple of blocks, and is killed in a pedestrian accident, schools always claim they have no jurisdiction or liability.) In view of this, the school lacked jurisdiction or authority for suspending your child--particularly when there wasn't any notice of this action. The VP's failure to supervise during the earthquake drill was negligent. The girl who was beaten up during the drill has a cause of action against your daughter and the VP. If there are documented incidents of bullying by this student, especially if the school was on notice, then this may be actionable under a theory of negligence. Your daughter's stipulated expulsion is likely not actionable since you stipulated to it, and you didn't mention any due process violatons.

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Answered on 4/23/14, 11:33 am

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