Interviewer: Let’s talk about schools. I have heard a lot of schools have a no tolerance policy for drugs and violence or things like that. How does it dovetail with juvenile law?
Does it make worse for kids in school? Does it not affect them? What happens if a kid does something in school do they get duplicate charges?
Munoz: The juvenile could have separate consequences. The juvenile could face the consequences in the juvenile criminal justice system. The juvenile could also face consequences from the school that they attend. That system is completely different. Each school board essentially has their own rules and regulations of the conduct of their students. If a juvenile violates one of them, there are a number of things the school could do.
Interviewer: Please explain.
Munoz: The school is allowed to create a penalty that can range from short suspension period, where the student is not allowed to come back to school. They could have in school detention. They could also be expelled from school. And so there’s a wide range, however a student is entitled to due process. The courts have said that school cannot just kick you out without due process.
Contesting Expulsion From School
You are allowed to have a hearing and try to contest the expulsion. But that system is very, very different. You’re not presumed innocent before guilty, and it’s not proof beyond the reasonable doubt. The standard is different. These hearings are usually very informal. They can be at a meeting in a conference room with the representatives of the school, maybe their lawyer.
I’ve attended these hearings before and they are not hard for the school to try to prove. The school has a lot of discretion. If the school decides to do a very harsh punishment like expelling them from the school district then your only remedy is to appeal that with a superior court.
Legal Representation to Protect Your Child At School Hearings
Interviewer: It sounds like this is one area where guardians or parents should definitely have an attorney for their juvenile. First of all, the juvenile could be facing charges from two or three different angles. Like you said, there’s barely any standard on what can be done in terms of the school punishment. You would say that’s an important place to have an attorney represent you as well.
Munoz: Oh yes. If your son or daughter gets kicked out of the school system of the area you live in that can be devastating to a family. One, your child is now not allowed to go to the school that he’s been going to for a very long period of time, and that’s going to affect his education.
Second, it’s going to go into his education record, so it could affect him in terms of not being allowed to go to other schools in different districts. Now you have a stain of being suspended or expelled from the district.
Third, most juveniles or minors go to school that are close to their homes. If your juvenile is kicked out of the entire district, then you’re going to have to drive your juvenile, or procure transportation for your child to go to school in a completely different district that can cause a real hardship for you.
Child Protective Services
Interviewer: Yes, if they’ll even let him in. Can you discuss the Child Protective Services in Arizona? Do they get involved in juvenile cases because they now perceive that maybe the home environment caused them to be acting out?
Munoz: Child Protective Services also knows as CPS, always has the ability to get involved if they think it’s necessary. Usually that has to do with a parent doing a very bad job of supervision a child or the parent is neglecting a child.
Interviewer: I see.
Munoz: They don’t get necessarily get involved in all criminal cases. Matter of fact, I’d say it does not happen as much. But it is possible.
Interviewer: What determines whether they get involved? Do they automatically get alerted, for instance, when a juvenile commits a crime or do they only get involved if they are notified? How does that work?
Munoz: CPS could be alerted by a lot of different people. The school could alert them. If they are, they’ll come out, do an investigation, and write a report. The police can also alert them, they could be alerted by the state or the prosecutor involved in the case.
CPS gets notified all the time by lots of different parties and situations. Their job is making sure the child is safe, and not being neglected. Their focus is on really about the parenting.
CPS does have a wide range of powers. But usually, if your son or daughter gets in trouble and it’s the standard drinking or drugs, usually CPS does not get involved.
Interviewer: They probably only get involved in more serious crimes by underage people, right?