Note: This information is from our manual, Discipline in Public Schools.
- What is a Petition for Readmission?
Students who have been suspended or expelled can ask to be readmitted at any time.
Every school district is required to have a policy and procedure for how students can petition for readmission. There is usually some information in the district’s discipline policy. You should be able to get more details by calling the school or district office. You can ask for guidance on:
- Where should the petition for readmission be sent?
- What should be included in the petition?
- Who decides whether to approve or deny the petition?
- Will there be an opportunity to speak to the decision- makers?
- Can my child bring people to help make the case for readmission?
- Are there any expectations that my child should try to meet in order to get the petition approved?
It is up to the school district to decide whether to grant a petition for readmission. In order to increase the chances that the petition will be granted, think about how to address concerns the school or district might have based on what led to the suspension or expulsion.
Think about why the school decided to suspend or expel your child in the first place. Schools hope that students understand that what they did was wrong (when they violate a rule) and why the rule is important. Some schools believe that not suspending or expelling a student who has broken a rule would send a message to students that the misbehavior is okay.
Think about how to acknowledge any harm caused, offer an apology and a plan to try to repair the harm where possible. Keep in mind:
- If your child might also be facing criminal charges, be sure to talk with an attorney before asking your child to make an admission or write an apology for the incident. Criminal consequences can be very severe and long-lasting. Without the advice of an attorney it is hard to know how a statement might be used against your child in a possible criminal case.
- In cases of bullying or harassment, it is generally not recommended to ask the students to meet to talk about it. If your child has been accused of bullying or harassing another student and wants to apologize, talk with the school principal or a school counselor about having your child write a letter that the other student can read if they choose to. Another option might be to have your child write a letter to the teacher or the principal instead of to the other student directly.
Think about how to show efforts your child has made since the incident to learn from it, address any problems and try to move forward. That might include:
- Getting into counseling
- Completing anger management
- Participating in drug/alcohol treatment
- Attending another school program
- Participating in activities with peers such as sports, arts classes, camp, etc.
- Being involved in organized groups such as church, scouts, team sports
- Volunteering and community service.
You may want to ask other adults, mentors, and supervisors to write letters of support or bring supporters to the meeting where the petition for readmission is reviewed.
Help your child outline their long-term goals, strengths, and interests. Include this information into the petition for readmission.
Think creatively about ways that your child could return to school. For example, if the district seems reluctant to grant the petition, try proposing that your child return to school for a probationary period, attend half days, abide by a behavior plan, or get extra support. The district may be more willing to let your child back in gradually or with support. If you agree to a plan with shortened days, be sure that it would not extend past the end date of the original suspension or expulsion.
- Can the school require my child to sign a behavior agreement?
School districts can ask students and families to sign behavior agreements if a student gets in trouble. Agreements related to a suspension or expulsion might allow a student to return to school early if the student agrees to participate in treatment for drugs or alcohol, seek counseling, or go through an assessment process.
A school might also consider a behavior agreement that would hold off on starting the suspension or expulsion, as long as the student meets certain conditions.
A district that uses behavior agreements as part of their discipline policy must adopt written policies and procedures authorizing the agreements.
Behavior agreements cannot last longer than the number of days in a long-term suspension or expulsion. Also, they do not waive a student’s opportunity to have a reengagement meeting or to receive the educational services that are required for any student who is suspended or expelled.