What is a Disciplinary Tribunal?
A disciplinary tribunal hearing may be held following any serious violation or numerous violations of the Code of Conduct in which the principal believes that a suspension of more than ten days or an expulsion is appropriate. A disciplinary tribunal hearing may also be held following any alleged act of physical violence, assault or battery by a student upon the person of any administrator, teacher, bus driver or other school system employee; or any alleged act of vandalism causing substantial damage to the personal property of any administrator, teacher, bus driver or other school system employee.
A tribunal panel consists of three administrators or administrative assistants from other schools within the school system. The tribunal is charged with hearing evidence; determining if the student violated the code of conduct; and if the code was violated, imposing appropriate disciplinary action. The maximum penalty that can be imposed by a tribunal is permanent expulsion. If the student is represented by an attorney, a school board attorney will be appointed to conduct the hearing and serve as an advisor to the tribunal panel. If the student is not represented by an attorney, the Director of School Safety and Management or an associate will serve as a Hearing Officer and conduct the hearing. Upon receiving a request for a hearing, the superintendent will send a charge letter to the parents/ guardians of the student. The letter will list the charges made against the student; describe the basis of the charges; give the time, date and location of the hearing; and advise the parent/guardian and student of their rights. Those rights include the right to attend the hearing; to present evidence or argument; to be represented by legal counsel; to subpoena witnesses if the testimony of the witnesses is necessary to the student's defense and to cross-examine witnesses. The parent/guardian may waive the right to a hearing by furnishing the Superintendent with a signed statement to that effect. Any decision reached by the tribunal can be appealed to the Forsyth County Board of Education within twenty calendar days of the decision.
The hearing will be closed as required by Georgia Law. All evidence to be considered must be presented in the original hearing. The proceedings will be tape recorded for review by the Board of Education in the event that the tribunal's decision is appealed. The purpose of the hearing will be to determine whether the student violated the Code of Conduct by committing the offense(s) set forth in the superintendent's letter and if so, to determine appropriate disciplinary action. The objective of Stage One of the hearing will be to determine if the student did or did not violate the Code of Conduct as charged. If the answer is No, the hearing will be adjourned; and if the answer is Yes, the hearing will proceed to Stage Two. The objective of Stage Two of the hearing will be to address the sole issue of determining what disciplinary action is appropriate.
The formal tribunal hearing may be bypassed if the school, the student and a parent/guardian agree that the student is guilty of the charges; that the disciplinary action proposed by the school is appropriate; and that the parent will waive the student's right to a hearing. Such agreement must be reduced to writing in a formal Tribunal Waiver Agreement that clearly states that the student admits guilt to the charges, that all parties agree to the consequences, and that the parent and student clearly waive the right to a hearing.
A signed Tribunal Waiver Agreement will be presented to a tribunal by the Hearing Officer to determine if the tribunal is willing to accept the agreement as its decision. If the tribunal adopts the agreement as its decision, the decision becomes final and cannot be appealed by the school or the family. If the agreement is not adopted as the decision of the tribunal, the Tribunal Waiver Agreement will become null and void, all parental rights will be restored and a new hearing date and time will be established.
Contact: David Feuerbach