BOE Votes to Retain Right of Review for Expulsion Hearings
The Board of Education, presented a month ago with a revised expulsion policy that would have relinquished the board's right to preside over expulsion hearings in place of a hearing officer, voted Tuesday night to retain what has been one of its responsibilities.
However, if at least five board members fail to come together for a hearing within 10 days of being notified, a hearing officer would then be the decider of a student's academic fate. The motion passed by unanimous vote.
BOE Vice-Chairman Pamela Iacono, prior to the vote, had offered up an amendment to the motion to have no hearing officer whatsoever, but then fellow BOE member Paul Fattibene made a subsequent motion to provide for a hearing officer if three members of the education board, as opposed to five (per the main motion), cannot meet. Iacono accepted that amendment but the both of them were out-voted by the rest of the board.
"With central office hiring the impartial hearing officer, I just would feel more comfortable if the student up for expulsion has some say in choosing the hearing officer," Iacono said. She added, "The hearing officer is hired by central office to hear an expulsion. I just think they might lean toward the person that hired them. I think it's very one-sided. That's just my opinion."
Iacono thinks a students would have a better shot facing the board, not just because multiple people deciding one's fate is better than one, but because "we're an impartial board, we're elected by the people."
BOE Chairman said a student can have up to 50 days of suspension before an expulsion hearing comes into play. She said she felt the policy approved Tuesday - a change from what was presented in October (where board review was slated for elimination) was a very reasonable one.
"I'm happy with the amended motion," said Iacono. "I think this is our statutory obligation. I think we have a responsibility as elected officials to hear expulsions because we should know what's going on in our buildings and what the dangerous issues are."