Chicago School Law Lawyer
There are many different aspects to education law or school law. At Maduff & Maduff, our focus is on two areas: Suspension and Expulsion hearings, and civil rights. Students have far fewer rights in the context of schools than citizens have ordinarily. Even so, as the Courts have often stated, "students do not check all of their rights at the school house doors". Nonetheless, this does make handling student claims particularly difficult.
Suspension and Expulsion
Handling suspension and expulsion hearings is not very different from handling other kinds of cases. Usually the school principal or someone he or she chooses will present evidence before the school board and the student has the right to have an attorney defend him or her. The school board then acts as judge and jury. Because of the sheer size of the Chicago Public Schools system, suspension and expulsion hearings relating to Chicago Public Schools are prosecuted by law students before community attorneys who serve as judges. Oftentimes, an agreement can be reached similar to a plea bargain in the criminal context.
There are times when a school can violate a student's civil rights. For example, a student has a right not to be physically injured by school personnel without provocation. Students also have some limited rights to free speech and expression, as well as religious freedoms so long as they are not disrupting the school. Further, if the police appear on school property and conduct an interrogation without permitting students to contact their parents or guardians beforehand, a host of violations can occur.
Public v. Private Schools
Because they are an arm of the state, Constitutional violations are more easily directed against public schools. Private schools have more freedom to act. This is particularly so in the case of religious schools where the Constitution's guarantees of freedom of religion work in their favor.
School cases can be difficult and you need to review them with an attorney. Because suspension and expulsion rules vary from district to district and even from school to school, it is important to review those rules with a Chicago Education Law Lawyer.