Schools have limited rights in suspending you from school, banning you from school events, or punishing you in other ways.

Back to "Know Your Student Rights"

For what reasons can my school kick me out?

Schools can kick out students for a wide variety of reasons. Suspensions—a temporary kicking out—almost always are for a day to a couple of weeks.

The only rights students have in a case like that is:

  • For the school to tell you specifically why it wants to kick you out
  • To allow you to tell your side of the story
  • If you think you are being suspended unfairly, consider the steps for defending yourself here.

"Expulsions" are permanent removal from school and happen for only the most serious cases, usually involving students who bring weapons to school or who are violent or chronically disruptive.

For what reason can the school ban me from special school events, such as prom?

Schools cannot turn away or kick out a student from an event because of religion, race, sexual orientation (including a same-sex date), or any other form of discrimination.

Schools can ban students from nonacademic sponsored school functions, such as a prom, for any reason legitimately related to the health, safety, or educational welfare of its students.

Most Iowa schools also have "good conduct rules" that expect students to "represent their school" in a positive way at all times. Under this rule, a student can be denied participating in an extracurricular or special event—even if the behavior is perfectly legal or takes place away from school or away from a school-sponsored event.

For example, if your school has a rule that students cannot be in the presence of alcohol or drugs, then you can be banned from an extracurricular even though you weren’t doing any drugs or drinking. Your mere presence at a party with beer can get you kicked off the team.

Another example: An 18-year-old, who is a legal smoker, might get banned from prom even though what he or she was doing was perfectly legal.

Schools can also limit who attends school events by letting in only those who are part of the student body or just to a class level (like juniors and seniors). They can also restrict entry to a certain age range or dress code—but not a dress code that discriminates based on religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation. For example, if a girl wants to wear a tuxedo, she should be allowed to do so. 

Can a teacher, the principal, or a coach push or hit me?

No. It is against the law for teachers or school staff to use physical violence against students as punishment or to vent their anger.

However, a teacher or staff can use "reasonable force" to restrain a student who is physically out of control and who presents a danger to himself or others.