Avoiding Disciplinary Placement in the Wyoming High School System

Don't let your Wyoming high school student fall into an alternative education program due to disciplinary placement. Alternative education can sound like a good thing. It generally is not. Listen to the education advocates who criticize alternative education disciplinary placements. You'll find that alternative education is not the same as a school of choice. Disciplinary placement can mean that your Wyoming high school student is losing the supporting relationships of dedicated teachers and interested peers in the traditional high school while joining a population of failing, disaffected, and even dangerous students consigned by involuntary sentences to the alternative school. An emerging national consensus holds that the structureless environment of alternative schools can do more harm than good to the disciplined student. These criticisms justify why students and parents often call these alternative education programs boot camp or reform school. Wyoming educators certainly mean well in their alternative program efforts. But meaning well and doing well are two different things. Retain national school discipline advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team to help your Wyoming high school student avoid reform school.

How Wyoming High Schoolers End Up in Alternative Education

Wyoming school principals and district officials generally can't just send any student to alternative education. They may encourage and invite parents to send a student whom they regard as disruptive or annoying to alternative education. Or a pregnancy and parenting duties may warrant an alternative placement. But to force a student into a Wyoming alternative placement, school officials generally need disciplinary grounds. And disciplinary grounds generally require school officials to identify, charge, and prove some form of behavioral misconduct. That alternative education is often a punishment for misbehavior stigmatizes alternative education in the minds of many. To avoid that stigma, you'd far rather have your student graduate from a traditional Wyoming high school than an alternative school. The challenge, though, is that school officials sometimes force students toward alternative education on the weakest of disciplinary grounds. Don't let that happen to your Wyoming high school student. Instead, retain national school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to defend and defeat Wyoming high school disciplinary charges. Keep your Wyoming high school student on track toward a proud and valuable high school graduation.

Wyoming Alternative Education Laws

Wyoming law authorizes school districts to create alternative high schools and send suspended or expelled students to those schools. Wyoming Statute 21-4-306(d) authorizes the district superintendent, with the district board's authority, to provide “educational services to the expelled student in an alternative setting.” Wyoming Statute 21-13-309(m) funds alternative high schools through a block grant program. The same statutory section permits high schools to send at-risk, suspended, or expelled students to those alternative high schools while requiring the district to report annually and evaluate the school bi-annually. While Wyoming's legislature has written these provisions as if each district need not necessarily establish its own alternative high school, state block grant funding for those schools encourages districts to establish them. Moreover, the suspended or expelled student must still comply with Wyoming's truancy laws or face a juvenile justice proceeding. Wyoming Statute 21-4-107 provides that “when the board of trustees of any school district shall determine that a child is a habitual truant as defined by this article, the board or its attendance officer shall notify the district attorney who shall then initiate proceedings in the interest of the child under the Juvenile Justice Act.” One way or another, your school-age child is very likely going to either be in the traditional high school or an alternative school. Better the traditional high school.

Wyoming Alternative High Schools

Many Wyoming alternative high schools are district created and funded. For example, the New West High School is Johnson County's alternative education program. Typical of alternative high schools in Wyoming and around the nation, the New West High School advertises that it serves students at risk of failing or dropping out of their traditional high school. New West advertises that it pursues its laudable goal by providing at-risk students with “informal structure, flexible scheduling, an intensive career and social-emotional focus, and reduced school days.” Informal structure, flexibility, and reduced school hours may sound good to any high school student, but few students benefit from relaxing the very things that produce program rigor and student accountability. Alternative high schools can have extraordinarily low graduation rates compared to traditional high schools, whether as a consequence of their challenged student population or lax methods. Other Wyoming alternative high schools include Wyoming Behavioral Institute, Youth Emergency Services, Wyoming Boys School, and Wyoming Girls School. Wyoming alternative high schools can take other shapes, too. For example, the National Guard supports the Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy at the Guard's Camp Guernsey, focusing on occupational training.

Wyoming High School Disciplinary Grounds

Wyoming law leaves no question but that Wyoming high schools have the authority to suspend or expel students, sending them to alternative high schools. High school students can face any number of significant issues. Technically, school officials at your student's Wyoming high school should have one or more of the listed statutory grounds before suspending or expelling your student. The list of statutory grounds for sending your student to an alternative high school gives your retained school discipline defense attorney an opportunity to challenge the alleged grounds. But note, too, how broad the grounds can be, leaving to advocacy and argument whether the school has met the statutory criteria for forcing your student to an alternative high school. Wyoming Statute 21-4-306(a) lists the following grounds for suspension or expulsion:

  • Continued willful disobedience or open defiance of the authority of school personnel
  • Willful destruction or defacing of school property during the school year or any recess or vacation
  • Any behavior which in the judgment of the local board of trustees is clearly detrimental to the education, welfare, safety, or morals of other pupils, including the use of foul, profane, or abusive language or habitually disruptive behavior
  • Torturing, tormenting, or abusing a pupil or in any way maltreating a pupil or a teacher with physical violence
  • Possession, use, transfer, carrying, or selling a deadly weapon … Within any school bus … Or within the boundaries of real property used by the district primarily for the education of students in grades kindergarten through twelve

Wyoming High School Student Conduct Codes

Wyoming Statute 21-4-308 authorizes Wyoming school district boards to adopt student codes of conduct to detail the above statutory grounds for suspension or expulsion. The same section grants school officials immunity from civil liability for carrying out school discipline. Wyoming high school principals use those student codes of conduct to elaborate on what school disciplinary officials may label as student misconduct. The district-wide handbook for Laramie County's high schools, including schools in Wyoming's largest city Cheyenne, lists the following grounds for discipline under its student code of conduct:

  • Any conduct that is unlawful, endangers the property, safety, health, or comfort of others, is disobedient, or violates school rules
  • Clothing with suggestive language or alcohol, tobacco, or illegal substance logos, or gang-related clothing
  • Misbehavior on buses
  • Improper displays of affection, sexual harassment, and sexual violence
  • Weapons possession, including firearms, explosives, knives, or stabbing tools
  • Abusive, inappropriate, or profane language
  • Academic dishonesty
  • Arson, bomb or terroristic threats, and false fire alarms
  • Defiance or insubordination toward teachers or other school officials
  • Fighting or gang displays or behavior
  • Forgery or misrepresentation relating to any school document
  • Harassing communications, intimidation, or bullying
  • Computer or other technology misuse
  • Trespassing, property damage, or theft
  • Excessive absences, tardiness, or truancy
  • Possession of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco products, including vaping products
  • Any other conduct that the school administration judges to be detrimental to the welfare, safety, or morals of students or staff

Wyoming High School Suspensions and Expulsions

Wyoming Statute 21-4-305(a) authorizes each district school board to suspend or expel students engaging in misconduct and to delegate that authority to disciplinary officials, as long as the board provides the accused student with due process: “The board of trustees of any school district is authorized to suspend or expel a student subject to the requirements to provide notice and an opportunity to be heard as set forth in this section. The board of trustees may delegate the authority to suspend or expel a student to disciplinarians chosen from the administrative and supervisory staff.” Suspension or expulsion leaves the student and parents little choice but to accept the district's offer to admit the student to the nearest alternative high school, which may be some distance away.

Wyoming High School Disciplinary Procedures

Wyoming Statute 21-4-305(b) reinforces that any suspension or expulsion of a Wyoming high school student requires due process. That subsection (b) defines due process to include prompt notice to the student of the grounds for suspension or expulsion along with 24-hour notice to the student's parents. The next subsection (c) requires that the school grant the student an opportunity to be heard before suspension or expulsion. For any discipline lasting more than ten days, the school must provide a hearing conforming to the requirements of Wyoming's Administrative Procedures Act. Formal hearings under the Act give the student the opportunity to call and question witnesses and present other evidence to an impartial decision maker. Subsection (f) grants the accused student the right to appeal any decision to suspend or expel for more than ten days to the district court of the county in which the district is located. These procedures can provide substantial protection to the accused student when the student's parents retain national school discipline defense advisor Joseph D. Lento. Advisor Lento has successfully defended hundreds of students nationwide against misconduct charges.

Example Wyoming High School Disciplinary Procedures

The Laramie County district-wide high school code of conduct cited above provides example procedures complying with the above Wyoming law. Laramie County's student code of conduct guarantees due process rights for any student facing an out-of-school suspension. The code of conduct requires the school to explain the charges to the student and the student's parents while also detailing the potential consequences if the school finds a violation. The school must then give the student and parents the opportunity to tell the student's side of the story. The hearing should occur within seventy-two hours unless the student and parents request an extension. Other Wyoming high schools, like the Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, should provide similar due process protections. But where they do not clearly do so, as in the case of Kelly Walsh High School's handbook, the Wyoming state due process guarantees should prevail.

Wyoming High School Disciplinary Representation

Due process guarantees in Wyoming state law and Wyoming high school handbooks do not necessarily mean that disciplinary officials at your student's school will follow those procedures. You must generally retain skilled and experienced representation to ensure that you put those procedures to best effect for your student. Indeed, your best move to ensure that your student gets to remain in the traditional high school program until graduation is to retain national school discipline defense advisor Joseph D. Lento. If you don't retain skilled representation, your student's high school may assume that you do not intend to invoke the available protective procedures. Disciplinary officials may not necessarily inform you of the available and required procedures, or they may simply encourage you to forgo those procedures in favor of a “compromise” workout that sends your student off to the alternative high school. Don't take the advice of school disciplinary officials who have conflicts of interest and may fully intend that your student never again set foot in the traditional high school. Instead, retain attorney Lento to invoke your student's procedural rights and preserve your student's traditional high school education and future.

Wyoming High School Disciplinary Informal Resolutions

Formal disciplinary procedures can be your tool to obtain prompt early informal resolution. When you retain national school discipline defense advisor Joseph D. Lento for your Wyoming high school student's representation, school disciplinary officials recognize that you are serious about protecting your student's rights and interests. Advisor Lento's appearance on your student's behalf can bring those officials to the negotiating table. Advisor Lento also knows the sorts of workouts that high school disciplinary officials are most likely to accept, compromises that can keep your student in the traditional program while providing your student with the support, services, and pathway toward graduation. Unlike most local criminal defense attorneys, advisor Lento also knows the language, communication preferences, and diplomacy that high school officials may value and respect. Advisor Lento won't alienate and abuse those officials but will instead gain their trust and confidence as a key step toward a favorable informal resolution.

Appealing Wyoming High School Discipline

You've seen above Wyoming Statute 21-4-305(f) granting Wyoming high school students an appeal to the local district court of any school district decision resulting in a long-term suspension or expulsion. A court appeal can be especially effective because it removes the final decision from within the school system that imposed the discipline in the first place. School officials at all levels have relationships within the district. Those relationships can prevent a fair and unbiased decision on discipline when everyone involved knows that the school principal or teachers desire it. But court appeals of academic decisions also require special knowledge of the law and procedures. A winning appeal takes more than waving a magic wand while saying the decision was erroneous. A winning appeal begins with proper and timely filings invoking the court's appellate jurisdiction. Winning appeals then take articulately written briefing, summarizing the evidence with appropriate record citations and stating the applicable law and principles in a compelling fashion. National school discipline defense advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm student defense team have the skills and experience necessary for winning appellate services.

Wyoming Alternative Placement Special Relief

Even if you have exhausted all formal hearings and appeals in defense of your Wyoming high school student, you may have other special avenues of relief available to you to preserve your student's traditional high school placement. School discipline defense advisor Joseph D. Lento has the national network, reputation, and relationships to reach out to general counsel offices, outside retained counsel, or other oversight officials for that special relief. Oversight officials ensure that any discipline decision meets the school district's legal obligations without exposing the district to a regulatory investigation or civil liability. Advisor Lento can help those oversight officials appreciate that your student's retention in the traditional high school can, with appropriate support and services, eliminate the school district's regulatory and liability risks. Don't give up on your high school student's traditional placement without consulting advisor Lento to see if special relief may be available in your student's case.

Why Avoid Wyoming Disciplinary Placement

The problems with alternative high school disciplinary placement really only begin with removing your student from your student's supportive and enduring teacher and peer relationships. The problems really only begin with forcing your student into an alternative high school program created for students engaging in disruptive or dangerous misconduct or who are already failing school or are otherwise at risk. The problems with alternative high schools multiply when considering the potential adverse impacts of disciplinary placement on your student's educational future. Colleges and universities considering the applications of high school students routinely review high school transcripts. They also generally require disclosure of prior school discipline. Your student's forced disciplinary placement may cause admissions officers at your student's preferred college or university to refuse your student's admission. Even if your student has no present intention to pursue higher education, your student may want to pursue vocational education and certification, security clearances for law enforcement or other sensitive roles, and other licensing and certification that school discipline could affect. Your student could lose out on jobs and careers that your student presently expects to pursue or may wish to pursue in the future. As a parent, your role includes looking out for your student's long-term future prospects. Be the wise one in this matter. Retain national school discipline defense advisor Joseph D. Lento for the winning defense of your Wyoming high school student.

Wyoming Alternative Placement Developmental Impacts

Often, the greatest impacts of adverse life events are the mental, emotional, and developmental impacts. School accusations can have very high costs. High school students are generally at a precarious time of life when smaller things can have deeper mental, emotional, and developmental impacts. And forced removal from the traditional high school for enrollment at an alternative high school is no small thing. Alternative placement is just about as big a social, relational, and developmental challenge as any high school student might face. Removal terminates all the supportive school relationships on which your student depends, not just peer friendships from which your student draws confidence and motivation but also teacher, advisor, and administrator relationships. Your student likely has one or more mentor relationships that school removal may end or badly affect. High school students who suffer mentally and emotionally can also develop compensating bad habits involving alcohol, drugs, and other misbehavior, leading at times to depression, anxiety, and even suicidal ideation. It's not too much to say that forced alternative placement can be a life's watershed event. Don't let your student face those lifelong risks. Get the skilled and experienced professional help your student needs to preserve your student's traditional high school program.

Premier Defense for Wyoming High School Discipline

Don't make the mistake of hiring an unqualified local criminal defense attorney for your student's Wyoming high school disciplinary defense. Local criminal defense attorneys may have abundant skill and experience in criminal court matters but rarely have skills and experience in academic administrative proceedings. The law and legal procedures differ sharply. What works in criminal defense often does not work in school disciplinary proceedings and indeed can make relationships in the school matter worse. Instead, retain national school disciplinary defense advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team. Advisor Lento has successfully defended hundreds of students nationwide against all kinds of school misconduct charges. Trust advisor Lento's skill and experience for your student's winning defense. Call 888-535-3686 or go online now.

Contact Us Today!

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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