Avoiding Disciplinary Placement in the Wisconsin High School System

High school can be a turbulent time for students. High school students are still developing social skills, cognitive awareness, and adaptive behaviors. Yet high school peers, teachers, curriculums, and related or unrelated life events and circumstances can exceed a student's adaptive capabilities. Misunderstood or untimely behaviors can further lead to disciplinary charges and, in the worst cases, disciplinary placement in alternative education. In that respect, Wisconsin is no different from other states. With everything going on in high school, Wisconsin high school students, like high school students elsewhere, face real risks of disciplinary removal and placement in alternative education. If that's your Wisconsin high school student's situation, take those disciplinary charges seriously. Ask your high school student, who will tell you that alternative education in a so-called pullout school is not their cup of tea. Indeed, disciplinary placement in alternative education can ruin student ambitions, dreams, and relationships. Retain national high school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team for your Wisconsin high school student's disciplinary defense. Whether your student attends a public or private high school, preserve that traditional high school program at all cost. Your student will thank you immensely for saving their education and future.

Wisconsin Alternative Education Programs

Wisconsin education laws clearly authorize disciplinary placement in alternative education programs outside the traditional high school. If your student's Wisconsin high school threatens your student with disciplinary placement, the school is very likely to have the alternative program to do so. The Wisconsin Stat. §115.28(7)(e) authorizes local school districts to offer “alternative or adaptive school structures and teaching techniques” at other sites after removing the allegedly dangerous, disruptive, truant, or delinquent student from the traditional school. Another statute Wisconsin Stat. §118.153 defines an alternative education program as a special school for at-risk students including dropouts, habitual truants, adjudicated delinquents, and students at least one year behind peers in credits earned or two or more years behind peers in academic skill level. The local school board is to contract with private nonprofit agencies in or near the district to maintain an alternative school of at least thirty and no more than two-hundred-fifty students. Wisconsin Stat. §115.92 also authorizes alternative education programs for pregnant and parenting students. Wisconsin also offers the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy for sixteen-to-eighteen-year-old at-risk youths and alternative education programs in juvenile detention centers. Alternative education programs are a real concern for Wisconsin high school students facing disciplinary charges. A traditional high school whose officials wish to rid the school of a student they perceive to be disruptive or undesirable has the means to do so.

Broader Grounds for Wisconsin Disciplinary Placement

Your Wisconsin high school student doesn't have to commit a serious weapons, drugs, or violence offense to end up facing disciplinary placement. While Wisconsin Stat. §118.153 defines only limited grounds for a high school to remove a student and place the student in off-site alternative education, grounds like habitual truancy and severe delinquency, Wisconsin high schools actually send students to alternative education programs on many other, lesser grounds. Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction publishes an FAQ document in which the state's superintendent of education frankly admits that beyond truancy and delinquency, Wisconsin high schools also send students to disciplinary schools for many lesser behavioral problems, substance abuse issues, family problems, and academic issues. The state's FAQ document includes each of these reasons for placement in alternative education programs:

  • poor school attendance;
  • failing school grades, whether D or F;
  • family crises affecting the student's enrollment or performance;
  • students referred but not qualifying for special education services;
  • social, emotional, and medical issues affecting schoolwork;
  • free and reduced lunch needs for impoverished students;
  • below-average performance on school assessments;
  • discipline problems within the school;
  • drug and alcohol issues affecting school performance;
  • criminal misbehavior on or off school property;
  • poor peer relationships affecting school performance;
  • high ratings on teacher-generated at-risk profiles;
  • retained students or students considered for retention; and
  • significant deficiencies in earned credits.

Any parent perusing this long list of potentially minor issues should have real concern that their Wisconsin high school student facing disciplinary charges could end up pulled out for placement in alternative education. While school disciplinary officials are presumably usually making reasonably logical discipline decisions, several of the above reasons for alternative placement seem surprisingly unfair, even discriminatory. Why, for instance, should free lunch needs or poor peer relationships require alternative education placement? And why should teacher profiles placing the student in an at-risk category require alternative education placement when the student hasn't yet suffered because of the risk? If risk alone is the measure, then high schools could place virtually any student in alternative education. If your Wisconsin high school student faces the threat of undue and undesired disciplinary placement, retain national school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento for an aggressive and effective defense of your student's traditional high school placement.

Harm from Wisconsin Disciplinary Placement

Wisconsin high school disciplinary officials may favor alternative education under the misimpression that it routinely benefits most or all students whom they send there. If one listens to the critics of alternative education, or studies hometown stories, one learns that the opposite may well be true. Alternative education isn't all it's cracked up to be. One criticism is that traditional schools immorally pump up their student performance profiles by dumping lower-performing students into alternative education programs. Some schools game the measurement system. Another criticism is that schools force at-risk students into alternative education programs rather than invite them. Students get sentenced and banished to alternative education rather than served by it. Another research study finds that some alternative schools perpetuate and even accentuate student inequalities rather than address and reduce them. Wherever the truth of these critiques lies, students forced into alternative education by disciplinary charges face a major disruption in educational community, services, expectations, and relationships. For most students facing disciplinary placement, alternative education is a major fail, not a win. Don't let your Wisconsin high school student become another victim of that unfortunate dynamic. Instead, retain national school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento for your student's winning defense of the traditional high school placement.

Student Conduct Codes and Wisconsin Disciplinary Placement

Wisconsin high school disciplinary placements typically depend on the school charging the student with misconduct defined under the school system's student code of conduct. Wisconsin school districts, like the Madison Metropolitan School District and Milwaukee Public Schools, adopt student conduct codes regulating student behavior. Those conduct codes define the discipline problems for which Wisconsin high school officials so frequently send students to alternative education. The Milwaukee Public Schools' Parent/Student Handbook, for a prime example, defines the following student behaviors as sanctionable misconduct:

  • skipping class or leaving class without permission;
  • chronic disruption of class and other disorderly conduct;
  • gang activity, robbery, and extortion;
  • inappropriate dress;
  • inappropriate personal property like laser pointers and food;
  • inappropriate use of personal electronic devices;
  • assault and battery;
  • bomb threats and fireworks possession;
  • bullying, personal threats, and fighting;
  • false fire alarms;
  • gambling;
  • loitering;
  • weapons, drug, or tobacco possession;
  • sexual assault and sexual harassment;
  • trespassing;
  • verbal abuse and profanity;
  • arson;
  • theft, burglary, and possession of stolen property; and
  • vandalism and other property damage.

You can see how broad is the discretion that Wisconsin high school officials may assume for disciplinary placements. The above list of misbehaviors could, if interpreted to its broadest extent, implicate many, if not most high school students. If your Wisconsin high school student faces false, unfair, unsupported, or unwarranted disciplinary charges threatening alternative placement, your student needs aggressive and effective representation from national high school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento. Treat Wisconsin high school disciplinary charges with the seriousness they deserve. Disciplinary charges place your student's education and future at stake.

Wisconsin School Discipline Patterns

Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction maintains an online dashboard showing the types and numbers of Wisconsin school discipline. The most-recent reporting year showed well over twelve-thousand incidences of Wisconsin school discipline. Assaults and other endangering behavior made up about a quarter of those discipline cases. Drug, alcohol, and weapons possession offenses comprised a little over ten percent of total discipline cases. While one might think that those serious forms of misconduct might comprise most of the cases in which students suffered discipline, other, lesser violations of school rules instead comprised the majority of discipline cases. More than eight thousand Wisconsin students suffered discipline for those other violations in the most-recent reported year. Around two percent of all Wisconsin school students suffered out-of-school suspension or expulsion in the most-recent year. Lots of Wisconsin students get kicked out of school, and most of those discipline cases don't involve the most-serious forms of weapons, drugs, and violence charges. Your Wisconsin high school student facing disciplinary charges runs a significant risk of disciplinary placement even if the charges don't seem so serious.

Required Wisconsin Disciplinary Placement Procedures

Wisconsin law requires school districts to follow certain protective procedures before suspending or expelling a student for disciplinary placement in alternative education. Wisconsin Stat. §120.13(c)(1) provides that the school district's board may expel a student “whenever it finds the pupil guilty of repeated refusal or neglect to obey the rules” set forth in the district's student code of conduct. Wisconsin Stat. §120.13(c)(3) and (4) state the protective procedures the board must follow including written detailed notice of the charges timely sent to the student, the right to a hearing before the board at which to present evidence in defense of the charges and to challenge the school's evidence, and the right to appeal any adverse decision to the county's circuit court within thirty days of the adverse ruling. Another section of the same statute permits the board to adopt a resolution to have a designated hearing officer conduct the hearing in place of the board if the board reviews and approves the officer's decision. Another Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's FAQ document states that the accused student has the right to retain a school discipline defense attorney to represent the student at the hearing.

Example Wisconsin Disciplinary Placement Procedures

Within the state's mandated due process protections, Wisconsin high schools can tailor their disciplinary placement procedures to local interests. The “Due Process Procedures for Suspension” in the Milwaukee Public Schools' Parent/Student Handbook are a good example. The school principal must first notify the student of the disciplinary charges. The principal must then explain the evidence against the student while giving the student the opportunity to contest that evidence and present the student's own evidence. The principal must then explain any discipline decision to the student's parents, giving the student and parent the opportunity to evaluate and appeal the decision to a district central office. For another example, the Green Bay Public Schools' High School Expectations handbook assures students and their parents of similar due process protections. Green Bay Public Schools expulsions require formal board hearings or a hearing before the board's designee, precisely as Wisconsin state law requires. But don't try to follow the disciplinary procedures of your student's Wisconsin high school without skilled and experienced school discipline attorney representation. Retain national school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to confirm and effectively deploy school disciplinary procedures.

Attorney Role at Wisconsin High School Disciplinary Hearing

Your student's right to retain a skilled and experienced school discipline defense attorney to represent your student before the Wisconsin school district board or designated hearing officer is your student's most important strategic advantage. Successfully defending and defeating false, unfair, unsupported, and unwarranted disciplinary charges at a formal disciplinary hearing requires aggressive and effective attorney representation. When school disciplinary officials investigate charges and present them to the district board seeking the accused student's expulsion, the board is likely to affirm the request of those officials whom the board generally knows and respects, unless the student's retained attorney makes a strong case compelling the board to reject the charges. Technically, the school bears the burden of proving the charge. But practically, the student faces an uphill battle. But when you retain national school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento for your student's disciplinary placement defense, attorney Lento can provide winning defense services including:

  • receipt, review, and evaluation of the school's disciplinary charges to determine whether Wisconsin law and the school district's adopted conduct code support the charges;
  • discovery of the school's evidence allegedly supporting the disciplinary charges to challenge and seek prompt dismissal of any charges lacking credible supporting evidence;
  • timely answer of the disciplinary charges together with firm and clear denials of any false or unsupported allegations and assertion of all available affirmative defenses;
  • identifying, gathering, organizing, and presenting exonerating and mitigating evidence compelling early informal resolution and dismissal of the charges;
  • communicating and negotiating with school disciplinary officials demonstrating creative, win-win resolutions that retain the accused student's traditional high school placement;
  • timely request for formal hearing in those cases involving conflicting evidence, attendance at the hearing, cross-examination of the school's adverse witnesses, and presentation of witnesses and documents in the student's favor;
  • removal from the student's record of any indication of charges that resulted in dismissal, together with review, evaluation, and appeal of any adverse rulings; and
  • communication and negotiation with school oversight officials for alternative special relief in the event of adverse results of appeals.

Appeals from Wisconsin Disciplinary Placement

While the above attorney services may well result in dismissal of the disciplinary charges or a win at the formal hearing stage, some cases require an appeal of an adverse ruling, especially when the student and student's parents fail to retain a qualified school discipline defense attorney for the hearing. If your student has already lost the formal hearing with or without attorney representation, retain national school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to appeal the adverse ruling. As indicated above, Wisconsin is unusual in sending disciplinary appeals of a board expulsion ruling straight to circuit court. Circuit court appeals of school expulsions require a unique mix of academic administrative skills and experience, with court appeal skills. Appeals require the school discipline defense attorney to obtain the hearing record, review the record for errors and gaps in the school's evidence, prepare an appeal brief with the law and facts supporting reversal, and present the appeal brief to the court, often with oral argument. Attorney Lento has those appellate skills in abundance, having successfully defended hundreds of students nationwide in misconduct cases. Trust attorney Lento to handle your student's Wisconsin disciplinary placement appeal.

Alternative Relief from Wisconsin Disciplinary Placement

Don't give up if your Wisconsin high school student has followed all school procedures without any relief. National school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has another valuable service to offer Wisconsin high school students who have already suffered disciplinary placement after exhausting all hearings and appeals. Attorney Lento has successfully resolved discipline cases for hundreds of students across the country by working with school oversight officials for alternative special relief. School districts maintain general counsel offices and ombuds offices, and retain outside counsel, to ensure that school disciplinary actions comply with law and regulation, avoid expensive and distracting litigation, and don't unduly affect the school's reputation, educational mission, and staff morale. Attorney Lento has the national reputation, national network of professional relationships, strong negotiation skills, and unique insight into creative resolutions to frequently obtain alternative special relief. In short, your Wisconsin high school student may be able to return to the traditional high school program despite having lost all hearings and appeals. Retain attorney Lento to explore alternative oversight channels before giving up on your student's traditional high school education.

School Discipline Defense Has Great Value

When deciding how best to help your Wisconsin high school student preserve the traditional high school placement and education, don't overlook your student's enormous interest in that placement. Determine the effort and expense you are willing to invest against the full value of your student's education, career, and future. A successful high school academic and social experience is a launching pad into college, university, graduate school, professional school, and vocational programs. High school disciplinary placement can close doors to preferred schools, jobs, and careers. Employers commonly seek disclosure of academic discipline. Applicants who refuse to disclose school discipline or who admit having suffered school discipline often don't get the job. Disciplinary placement can also discourage friend, family, and mentor relationships. High school removal can also alarm, burden, and depress a student who may suffer significant developmental, psychological, and emotional harm. Getting off in life on the right foot, with a solid, reliable, and respectful foundation, means a tremendous amount to a student's future. And the most valuable service you can acquire to preserve your student's high school education is the representation of a premier school discipline defense attorney. Don't underestimate the great value of those services. Your student's future is worth the investment.

Wisconsin High School Discipline Defense Services Available

National school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team are available across Wisconsin, no matter your student's location or the nature of your student's disciplinary charges. You need not wonder whether you can locate an attorney who can help your student defend and defeat disciplinary placement. Attorney Lento has successfully defended hundreds of students nationwide against all kinds of charges. That success is all you need to trust attorney Lento with your Wisconsin high school student's winning representation. Don't retain an unqualified local criminal defense attorney simply to save trouble or expense. You'll struggle to have any confidence that an unqualified representative can promptly and timely discern the right strategic action to save your student's education. Instead, get your student the premier, winning representation your student needs. Call 888-535-3686 or go online now to retain national school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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