Due Process Protections for Charter School Students in Long-Term Exclusionary Discipline Proceedings

November 1, 2023

Charter schools—public schools that are subject to minimal state regulation—often employ high levels of exclusionary discipline.  Because charter schools in many states are exempt from state laws regulating school discipline, the U.S. Constitution provides charter school students their only source of protections during such disciplinary proceedings.  However, the constitutional due process protections afforded to public school students in disciplinary proceedings remain a source of significant disagreement among courts.  Although the U.S. Supreme Court has established that public school students must be afforded due process protections in exclusionary discipline proceedings, the Court has yet to determine what process is actually due to students in long-term exclusionary discipline proceedings.

This Note explores and examines the disagreement among lower courts around three core due process protections:  the right to confront and cross‑examine witnesses, the right to an impartial adjudicator, and the right to retain legal counsel.  This Note argues that due process guarantees these three protections to all public school students.  Further, this Note argues that these protections are needed in order to best protect charter school students, as charter school students face exclusionary discipline more often than traditional public school students and often do not have an added layer of protection from state law.

November 2023

No. 2