San Diego Law Review

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In the Supreme Court’s seminal 1975 decision, Goss v. Lopez, the Court held: [D]ue process requires, in connection with a suspension of 10 days or less, that the student be given oral or written notice of the charges against him and, if he denies them, an explanation of the evidence the authorities have and an opportunity to present his side of the story. In his dissent to the Goss decision, writing on behalf of three other members of the Court, Justice Powell countered: The Court holds for the first time that the federal courts, rather than educational officials and state legislatures, have the authority to determine the rules applicable to routine classroom discipline of children and teenagers in the public schools. It justifies this unprecedented intrusion into the process of elementary and secondary education by identifying a new constitutional right: the right of a student not to be suspended for as much as a single day without notice and a due process hearing either before or promptly following the suspension. The majority’s holding and the dissent’s criticism provide the foundational framework for the continuing rhetoric and more recent research concerning procedural constraints on student suspensions in public schools. The purpose of this Article is to provide a systematic synthesis of the myriad state procedural due process provisions for suspensions of one to ten days. The results will contribute to determining whether federal courts, as compared with state legislatures, are the appropriate arena for resolving any perceived problems.

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