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High School Disciplinary Actions & Euphoria: Part Two

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | May 14, 2022 | 0 Comments

In HBO's Euphoria, the entire show discusses several intense story plots, including physical abuse. Much of the physical abuse storylines center around Nate Jacobs, Euphoria's main antagonist. Nate is an incredibly angry young man and suffers from fits of rage throughout both seasons.

But what would happen to Nate if he were a real teenager and his school discovered his participation in these acts of physical abuse? Could they punish him even if the contact occurred off-campus?

Disciplinary Actions in High School

The first episode of Euphoria ends with Nate beating a college student who had a romantic relationship with his ex-girlfriend Maddy. The romantic relationship is brief, but the brutality Nate shows in these scenes is hard to watch and results in a hospital visit and permanent eye damage for the other young man.

But this isn't the only instance of blind rage we see from Nate. In another episode, Nate grabs Maddy by the throat, choking her and leaving her with some nasty bruising around the neck. After this incident, Maddy tries to cover up the bruises at school and faints from the heat, where school officials discover the bruises. The police arrest Nate, but Maddy vehemently defends him. No charges are brought against Nate, but he is suspended from school.

So, what if this was real life? Would Nate have still been suspended? Maybe.

Due Process in High School Disciplinary Proceedings

In the real world, schools are required to provide due process, or at least the semblance of due process.  Public high schools are required by law to have policies in place to provide due process to an accused student if the student's educational right may be adversely affected due to disciplinary proceedings, such as when a student is at risk for a suspension or expulsion.  Private high schools, although not bound by the same federal or state constitutional due process requirements as public schools, are not allow to take arbitrary or capricious action against an accused student.   In that sense, the process and outcome must comport with some level of reasonableness to the allegations and the circumstances.

Although different schools have different policies, if a student were accused of physically abusing another student, they would generally be given an opportunity to defend themselves. Initially, the school would have done a preliminary investigation to determine if the accusations held any credence. If they did, they would notify the accused student and ask them to explain the events at issue themselves, inform the student of their right to an attorney-advisor to advocate on their behalf, and then have them present witnesses and evidence in front of a formal hearing proceeding. The hearing committee would break off and determine the accused student's responsibility before officially suspending them. In Euphoria, Nate is given no such due process. He is immediately arrested and suspended. 

The one caveat to an arguable lack of due process is when a school imposes an interim or temporary suspension on an accused student prior to a full opportunity for the accused students to defend against allegations.  A school may be able to do so based on the emergency nature of such a situation in an effort to protect the student body from harm.  Although a school has an obligation to the student body at large, the school must be reasonable in addressing alleged and potential concerns, but an accused student cannot always expect such reasonableness without professional help.  The sad reality is that an accused student and their parents can almost expect the school to not do the right thing unfortunately, and this is all the more reason that an experienced advisor must be in the accused student's corner from as early as possible in the process.

How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help

If you have been accused of certain conduct that can result in disciplinary action, an attorney-advisor will help create a strategic defense, gathering evidence and witnesses to testify on your behalf, and to make certain the school follows a fair and reasonable process. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have years of experience helping students across the United States accused of disciplinary issues defend themselves from unnecessary punishments, like suspension or expulsion, and the long-lasting consequences these types of punishments may cause. For instance, suspension or expulsion punishments are marked on your final transcripts and will have to be discussed on future applications to college or graduate school. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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