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    Discipline Appeal Procedures for Long-Term Suspensions and Expulsions

    When a student has been long-term suspended or expelled a parent/guardian/family or the student may appeal the long-term suspension or expulsion to the Superintendent. In Seattle Public Schools, the Superintendent has designated that hearing officers will hear appeals as the designee of the Superintendent.  Hearing officers are community members who have been trained in state law and school District policy and understand due process rules. Hearing officers may mediate, modify, reverse or affirm the disciplinary response. The following process is used:

    A. Timeline of the Appeal Process

    1. The appealing party must request an appeal hearing from the Discipline Appeals Office within three (3) school business days after they receive written notice of the disciplinary response or discipline being proposed.  The request for an appeal hearing may be either written or oral, including being made by telephone. The Discipline Appeals Office telephone number is 206-252-0820.

    2. If the request for an appeal is not received within three (3) school business days after receiving written notice of the disciplinary response or discipline being proposed, the school will impose the proposed long-term suspension or expulsion, and the parent/guardian/family or student will not have any further opportunity to appeal the matter.

    3. If the request for a hearing is received within the three-day (3) time limit, the Discipline Appeals Office will schedule a hearing to be held within three (3) school business days from the day the appeal was received.

    B. Parent/guardian/family and student rights

    Parents/guardians and students have certain due process rights before, during, and after their requested hearing.   These rights have been approved by our state legislature and are found in WAC 392-400.  These rights include but are not limited to the following:

    1. The appealing party has the right to inspect before the hearing any written or physical evidence that the school may be presenting at the hearing, including witness statements. Student names may be removed to protect confidentiality.

    2. The appealing party has the right to be represented by an attorney at private, not public, expense.  Seattle Public Schools will have its attorney present if the appealing party has an attorney, so the Discipline Office must be notified as soon as possible if the student is represented.

    3. The appealing party has the right to question witnesses at the hearing.  This right may be limited when Seattle Public Schools has made a reasonable effort to produce a witness and is unable to do so, or when it is not advisable for the student to appear due to an expectation and fear on the part of the administrator that the student might be retaliated against if she or he appears as a witness.

    4. The appealing party has the right to present his or her explanation of the alleged misconduct.

    5. The appealing party may request that witnesses who saw or have knowledge of the incident in question be allowed to speak at the hearing, including other students, and

    6. The appealing party may present any written or physical evidence that supports the student’s case.

    C. School’s rights before the hearing

    The school leader or other person presenting the school’s case has the right to inspect in advance of the hearing any written or physical evidence that the parent(s) or guardian(s) may be presenting at the hearing. Students and parents/guardians/families must provide sufficient copies for the school leader of any written documentation to be provided to the hearing officer.

    D. At the Hearing

    1. The participants at the hearing will be limited to those with a relevant interest in the matter at hand, typically the school leader, the student and their parent/guardian/family and witnesses to the incident. If the student is represented by an attorney, a District attorney also will be present to advise the school leader.

    Other family members or friends should not expect to attend, although the parent may have a support person present so long as that person is not also a witness. The hearing officer has the authority to determine who may be present.

    2. A sign-in sheet will be provided and all persons present must sign in.

    3. All persons present at a hearing must maintain respectful behavior. Expectations include refraining from shouting, name-calling, cursing, badgering of witnesses, or other bullying, intimidating or disruptive behavior.  The hearing officer may end the hearing should these behaviors be present. The hearing officer will then determine whether to reschedule the hearing for another day or make a decision based on information already presented up to that point in the hearing.

    4. If the school leader, student and parent/guardian/family agree to mediate the disciplinary response, a mediation agreement  stating all particulars of the changes to be made is prepared and signed. The student and parent/guardian/family agree that by signing the mediation agreement all factual and legal issues related to a particular disciplinary response is final and fully resolved, and the student and parent/guardian/family will file no further appeal related to this discipline incident.  If either party decides that attempting to mediate is not appropriate for whatever reason, the hearing goes forward.

    5. Witnesses may not be allowed to be present in the hearing room except at the time they are providing testimony. When they have completed testimony, they may be asked to leave the room.

    6. Only the evidence presented at the hearing will be used by the hearing officer to make a decision. No information may be provided to the hearing officer outside of the hearing.

    7. The hearing officer will make a decision based on the following due process criteria:

    a. Preponderance of the evidence:  Did the alleged behavior occur?

    b. Student Behavior discipline:  Did the school have the right to discipline the student in the manner chosen, based on the District and school rules?

    c. Are there mitigating or aggravating factors recognized by the District that the school should have taken into account in deciding whether to discipline the behavior or in choosing the disciplinary response?

    8. The hearing officer is neutral. He or she may not be a witness to the incident that resulted in discipline or testify in the hearing.

    9. The hearing will be audio recorded.

    10. The hearing officer may mediate, modify, reverse, or affirm the disciplinary response. The hearing officer will provide a written decision, which will be sent to the parent/guardian/family by certified mail from the Discipline Appeals Office within five (5) school business days of the hearing date. Translation of the hearing decision into the home language of the family will be provided, at District expense.