Student Tribunal Project
The mission of the Georgia Appleseed Young Professional Council (YPC) School Tribunal Project is to provide resources and training to expand the pool of lawyers available to represent K-12 public school students in disciplinary hearings. The involvement of advocates for students who understand the purpose of the disciplinary process and who are well versed in practice and procedures in this forum will benefit both the affected students and the school system.
Propelled by the findings of the 'Effective Student Discipline' project, the YPC originally embarked on this new signature project in 2012 to substantiate whether there is an acceptable level of due process for teens in public school disciplinary hearings.
Under Georgia law, K-12 public school students faced with proposed out of school suspension of ten days or more, or with expulsion, are entitled to dispute the proposed disciplinary action at an administrative hearing often referred to as a 'tribunal.' The statute provides for basic due process protections related to notice, the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence, cross examine witnesses and the right to have counsel represent the student in the proceeding.
Concerns had been expressed about presiding officer objectivity and about the availability of qualified counsel to assist students, especially indigent students, in the proceedings. Because of the impact a long term suspension or expulsion may have on a student's academic success, it is important that the tribunal process provide meaningful due process to a student.
Making a Difference for School Tribunal Clients
To meet this need, YPC created Representing Students in School Tribunals in Georgia Attorney Training Manual to provide attorneys who are not experienced education lawyers with an understanding of the laws and procedures involved in a Georgia school tribunal hearing. It provides tools to navigate pro bono attorneys through the process of representing a student throughout the tribunal process. This manual is presented as a public service to pro bono attorneys and is intended for educational purposes only. It is presented in loose-leaf format to accommodate future updates and addenda.
The Manual was published in March, 2013 to coincide with a CLE opportunity presented by YPC members. View the video of the CLE course here.
Pro bono support for this new project includes Kilpatrick Townsend as the lead firm, with Brad Bryant as lead Board Liaison. This initiative is a signature project of Georgia Appleseed's Young Professionals Council.