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Florida Students Golden Rule – Know Thy Handbook – Advice from a Florida Education Law Attorney

On Behalf of | Aug 23, 2015

A new school year is upon us. Thousands of students across Florida are returning to school. Some are entering their senior year of high school. Others are college freshman or in their final year of graduate school. Everything is new, exciting, and maybe a little terrifying. You’re overloaded with information: Class schedules; a list of clubs and organizations; campus maps; tours; it’s Rush week. And somewhere buried in all of this information is a quick reference to the school’s handbook. In today’s world more often then not it’s a mention that, “oh you can go on-line and find it.” (Does any school or school district actually pass out paper copies anymore?). For most student’s that’s where it ends. But it shouldn’t. Take it from a Florida education law attorney, knowing the importance of your school handbook and how to read it could be critical.So what is the handbook? It’s the blueprint for that particular school. It contains all of the school’s policies and procedures. Probably the most important section is about the disciplinary process. Why? Because it’s essentially the school’s criminal, civil and appellate rules of procedure. It’s not only a guideline for the student, but what school’s sometimes forget is that it is also a guideline for them. Whether it is a K-12 public school district, or a private college or university, the school has to follow the rules set forth in its handbook. What does that mean for you, the student? Lots of things: • It means that it sets forth what constitutes a school violation. • It means the school has to provide you with the proper notice set forth in its handbook. • It has to tell you the evidence it plans on using against you in an academic or disciplinary hearing. • It explains the rules of those hearings and not only holds the student, but the school to those rules. • It tells the student what appeal rights they have after a hearing. • And many more things.Sometimes, just by failing to follow its own policies in the handbook is enough to get student charges reduced, dismissed or reversed. For a student or an education lawyer, knowing what the handbook says can make all of the difference. To make this a little easier for you, I’ll post some links to some Florida school districts, colleges and university handbooks. So put down that campus map, stop figuring out what club you want to join, and be fifteen minutes late to the Rush event. Find your school’s handbook, bookmark it, and just maybe, scroll through it.To view links to handbooks for public school districts throughout the state of Florida click here. Click here to view links for Florida colleges and university handbooks. Many technical and vocational school handbooks are given to the student upon enrollment. Make sure you read your handbook and keep them in a safe place.Richard Asselta is a Florida Education law attorney and the founder of Asselta Law, PA, located in Broward County, Florida. Asselta Law concentrates on Florida School Law and Appeals. Mr. Asselta is a former education law attorney for a large public school district and draws upon the knowledge gained from the other side of the table to work with teachers and students on legal issues in a variety of educational settings. Visit the about the firm and education law practice pages for more information.