Did You Know that Students Attending California Public Schools Can Be Subject to Discipline Outside of the Typical Weekday School Hours?

Often when parents think of school discipline, such as suspension and expulsion, they think of it in the context of class during school hours. However, a student can also be subjected to school discipline outside the typical weekday school hours. A student can be subjected to school discipline when on school grounds, going to or from school, during lunch period (whether on or off campus), and during, going to, or from school-sponsored activities. Cal. Educ. Code Section 48900(s). This means that a student could get in trouble while driving to attend a school-sponsored football game or at a restaurant off campus during lunch.

There are nevertheless limits to when the school can impose discipline on a student. In the summer of 2021, the United States Supreme Court held that a school district violated the First Amendment right of a student by punishing the student for a vulgar message she posted on Snapchat expressing frustration about the school after not being allowed to join the school cheerleading team. The Supreme Court ruled that while public schools may have a special interest in regulating off-campus student speech, stopping a student from expressing her frustrations about a school-related matter while off-campus, outside school hours, in a setting completely detached from any school-sponsored activity, was not sufficient justification to overcome the student’s right to free speech. The Supreme Court, in that case, did note some situations that would give public schools an important interest to regulate and punish off-campus student speech. These situations include serious or severe bullying or harassment targeting particular individuals and threats aimed at teachers or other students.

If you or your child is facing school discipline and you want to learn more about your rights, the experienced attorneys at Moore Law for Children can help you navigate your situation. Moore Law for Children serves clients from kindergarten to post-graduate schools in all of California, including the greater Orange County and Los Angeles areas. Call # now to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.