Jury Finds That Private K-12 Schools In California Must Provide Fair Procedure Before Disciplining Students

CATEGORY: Private Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Private Education
DATE: May 29, 2024

Two students at St. Francis High School, a Bay Area private school, were expelled for photos taken in 2017 that resurfaced in 2020 at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.  The pictures showed the students wearing acne facemasks, which were interpreted as “blackface.”  The School told the students that they had to withdraw from school or face expulsion.  The students were not offered a hearing and the School did not consider any evidence.  The students sued and argued that the School did not give them fair procedure before expelling them.  A jury agreed and awarded each student $500,000 and tuition reimbursement.

Last summer, the California Supreme Court defined “fair procedure” in a case involving a student at the University of California (USC).  That case did not specifically address private K-12 schools.  This St. Francis High School case establishes, for the first time, that private K-12 schools are also required to provide fair procedure before disciplining students.

Note: For more information about this standard, please refer to LCW’s special bulletin on the USC case, which can be found here

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