If you get a call from your child’s school and learn that your child was fighting with another student, you probably have a lot of thoughts running through your head. “Who started the fight? Is my child ok? What happens next?” Fighting in school is something that occurs fairly frequently, and it can have serious consequences. Here, I will discuss some of the consequences that your child might face and how to proceed.
After learning that your child was involved in a fight on school property, you need to get the facts. You might be asked to go to the school and discuss what happened with your child, the other child involved in the fight, and their parents. You should get the full facts of what happened, including:
- Who instigated the fight.
- Who started the physical altercation.
- How many people were involved in the fight and who they are.
- The extent of the injuries sustained.
- If your child or the other child involved in the fight have a history of fighting – either with each other or with other students.
- What the school’s policy on fighting is.
- If the police were contacted or will be contacted.
- What happens next.
Once you have all of the information regarding what happened, you can figure out how to proceed.
The consequences for fighting on school property should be outlined in your child’s Student Handbook. Refer to this handbook to determine what happens next.
Most schools have policies that state that fighting results in a suspension. Some schools require an out-of-school suspension, while others accept an in-school suspension. Many schools will also take other factors into consideration before determining a suspension.
Fighting in school could be very serious for your child. In some cases, they could get expelled. You should communicate with the school about your child’s penalty.
Many schools allow a student a hearing in which they can plead their case for a lesser penalty. The school will take into consideration the severity of the fight as well as their past behavior and school performance. Leniency might be granted a student who has no prior issues with the school, who performs well, and who contributes to the school community. Such factors can be presented during the student hearing.
Sometimes, fights on school property are handled internally, with the school. Other times, the police are involved.
School Violence Education Program
When a juvenile commits a crime, there are many different punishment options open to him or her. In many cases, a juvenile may receive a fine, a period of probation, community service hours, etc. instead of a jail sentence. This is because penalties for juvenile crimes are meant to rehabilitate the child as opposed to punishing him or her. One such rehabilitative option that may be open to your child is the school violence education program.
The school violence education program is a pretrial diversionary program for juveniles. If a child threatens the use of physical violence or uses physical violence at a public school, a private school, or a school-sponsored event, he or she will become eligible for this program.
To be admitted, a child must make a motion to apply for this program. The court may order a suspension of delinquency proceedings for one year and order the child to participate in this program if the court determines that the child needs and will likely benefit from the program and if the suspension of proceedings will advance the interests of justice.
A child is eligible for the school violence education program if he or she agrees to participate in an anger management program and nonviolent conflict resolution of at least eight group sessions. The child must complete this program before being eligible for the school violence education program.
In addition, the child must agree to comply with court orders. Finally, the child’s parents or guardians should certify under penalty of a false statement that to their knowledge, their child does not possess any firearms, dangerous weapons, controlled substances, or other materials prohibited by law.
If the court denies the motion to allow the child into the school violence education program, the delinquency proceedings will continue against the child.
If the police get involved in your child’s school fight, your child could face criminal charges. You can try to minimize this situation by contacting a juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible.
Dealing with the police on top of the school issues can be overwhelming. The right lawyer can take the burden off of your family and handle the legal issues involved.