School Discipline and Remedies

If it is established that a student was improperly subjected to school discipline there are various types of actions that the student may take. Some of the types of actions include:

  • Suing for Damages.
  • Seeking an expungement of the student’s school record.
  • Seeking injunctive relief.
  • Administrative relief.


If it is proven that the student was wrongfully subjected to school discipline, the student may file an action against the school, school district or administration, or school officials for damages. School officials may be held liable for violating the student’s civil rights if it is established by the student that the school official’s actions were unlawful and that the school official was not exempted by the good-faith immunity exception. In order for the school official to qualify for good-faith immunity, the school official must show that:

  • He acted in a sincere manner.
  • He believed his disciplinary actions were proper under the circumstances.

Even if the school failed to provide the student with his procedural due process prior to imposing punishment, if the school is able to show that even if the student would have been given notice and a hearing the punishment would have been the same, the student is not entitled to damages.

The student may be entitled to damages for mental and emotional distress and other injuries resulting from a denial of his right to procedural due process if the student proves that the injury occurred and was caused by the school’s unfair treatment. Additionally, even if the student is unable to prove that he suffered an actual emotional or mental injury, he may still be awarded nominal damages.


If the school wrongfully imposed disciplinary action against the student, the student may seek to have his record expunged. Expungement is a procedure by which the court orders that the school records regarding the student’s disciplinary action be destroyed or deleted.


If the student was wrongfully subjected to discipline by the school, he may seek injunctive relief. Injunctive relief constitutes relief by way of an injunction. An injunction is a legal decree that will order the school to perform or not to perform certain conduct. Typically, the injunction will prevent the school from disciplining the student, requiring the reinstatement of a student to school or preventing the enforcement of unconstitutional rules or policies.

Administrative Remedies

The student may also seek relief by way of an administrative remedy if he proves that he has been wrongfully subjected to school discipline. In some states, administrative relief may be the only type of relief that is available to the student. Local boards of education, hearing officers, or others may have authority to independently review decisions to discipline students.

Administrative appeals of school disciplinary decisions are typically governed by strict time deadlines. Moreover, depending upon the jurisdiction, the student may be required to exhaust all of his administrative remedies prior to filing a judicial action.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.