Here is what schools should know about due process and student discipline in Arizona. Discipline in Arizona schools must be carried out according to the principles of Due Process contained in the Constitution.How the disciplinary process is handled by the school must be carried out in a manner that respects the student’s Constitutional right in his or her education.The law recognizes that students possess a due process right to fair disciplinary procedures under certain circumstances.

Due Process Rights for Students

When are a student’s due process rights triggered? Effectively a student must be allowed an opportunity to be heard before being suspended or expelled from school. Under Arizona Revised Statutes §15-840 “suspension” means “the temporary withdrawal of the privilege of attending a school for a specified period of time”. While under the same statute  “expulsion” refers to a more permanent status in which the student’s right to attend the school is revoked unless the board specifically reinstates that student’s interests.

The Spectrum of Student Rights

A student’s due process rights increase along a continuum in which the student is afforded more protections as the severity of the discipline increases. As the punishment increases from a short-term to a long-term suspension to an expulsion, the obligations incumbent on schools to respect a student’s due process rights increase. For example, under more severe punishments, due process dictates that adequate notice should be provided to the student’s legal guardian regarding a disciplinary hearing.

What Schools Must Know About Their Responsibilities

In Arizona schools, by law, must provide the parent(s) or legal guardian of a student facing a long-term suspension or expulsion five working days’ notice of a disciplinary hearing.  Further, how the disciplinary hearing is conducted changes as punishment becomes more severe. For example, short-term suspension hearings are generally more informal and can be conducted by a campus administrator, whereas long-term suspensions and expulsions will generally involve a hearing officer or the governing board of the school district and involve a procedure similar to that of legal proceedings.

Without legal representation, a school and its employees can be subject to legal claims. Being aware of the exposure and having clearly-developed policies for addressing potential issues can be very beneficial. When legal issues emerge, quick action based on educated decisions is essential. An Arizona school attorney can help you evaluate your reaction and protocols.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Due Process and Student Discipline in Arizona, or other Education Law matters, please feel free to contact Erin H. Walz at 480.461.5379, log on to or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.