Your child just returned from school with a letter from the principal. The school discovered something they consider to be a weapon in his or her locker, and now the school is seeking to expel your child for two years. What can you do?

For one thing, you may need to hire an attorney. Often, it is difficult for parents to understand how a hearing officer will perceive their child’s actions. Without this understanding, it can be difficult to make a persuasive case. For example, pointing out that another student got away with worse behavior generally does not work in your favor.

While nobody can guarantee a favorable outcome, an attorney can help you craft the best possible defense for you child:

(1) An attorney can evaluate the evidence the school is planning to use against your child.

(2) An attorney can prepare your child and any other possible witnesses to testify so that they make the best impression they can on the hearing officer. Students may not realize when they are coming off as defensive, blaming or sullen.

(3) An attorney can cross-examine any witnesses the school uses against your child in order to point out weaknesses in the school’s case.

(4) An attorney can evaluate whether a school is following lawful procedures. For example, Illinois law bars a zero-tolerance discipline policy except in certain situations. Did the school jump to expel too quickly?

(5) Even if the evidence against your child is overwhelming, an attorney may be able to negotiate a better outcome than you could on your own.

Bear in mind that if you wish to appeal the school’s verdict, you must make a complete record of your best evidence at the school hearing. An appellate judge will only look at the evidence presented there and will not allow you to introduce new evidence on appeal.

If your student has a school discipline matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Matt Keenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 24 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery…

A criminal and school law attorney with over 24 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU, Illinois State Bar Association.