In New York State, everyone younger than 21 who does not have a high school diploma has the right to attend a public school. This right is protected by our state constitution. When your school wants to suspend you, it is taking away that right for a period of time. But there are rules that the school must follow where your rights are concerned.

This guide will help you understand the rules, and protect your right to an education.

Know Your Rights


As part of NYSED’s reopening guidance, schools are encouraged to approach student discipline through restorative, rather than punitive, practices. This means schools are urged to create policies and practices that keep students connected to their learning environment, which is critical to maintaining academic growth and supporting students’ social and emotional learning. Restorative approaches are designed to help students understand their behavior and how it impacts others, in order to build and maintain meaningful relationships. Not all schools are following this guidance, however. We recommend you share it with your school if you are facing exclusionary punishments.

If you are suspended during the pandemic, some procedures might be different. First, you should check that the behavior you are being accused of is actually something that is described in your code of conduct. Many schools have not updated their discipline codes to reflect the realities of online learning, but they cannot suspend you for something if you didn’t have notice that it was against the rules.

Second, if you are suspended, your conference with the principal or your suspension hearing might take place virtually, so be sure you are in good communication with your school to find out when and how to attend. If you miss your hearing, you do not have the automatic right to have a new one scheduled so it’s important to attend. Second, if you are suspended and you are learning remotely, you may lose your login privileges, or be given a new password and login for a different remote class. In some districts, you may be given paper homework packets instead of virtual assignments. In most cases, your school must provide you with access to education while you are suspended, but it is not required that it be your regular classes or your regular work.

If you are not provided any access, email us at immediately. We recommend that you ask your school to maintain regular access to your online learning platforms while suspended, since you won’t be in a classroom anyway.

If you are suspended from in-person learning, we recommend you ask your school to maintain regular access to your online learning platforms, so your education is not interrupted while you are out of class. Your school might assign you in-person classes at a suspension site or alternative school for the duration of your suspension. If you are concerned about contracting COVID-19 at this alternative site, you should ask for accommodations or to move to remote learning.