School Panels

Gwinnett School Disciplinary Panels


I have been representing students at Gwinnett County Public Schools Disciplinary Hearings for over 15 years. These Hearings are somewhat like a criminal proceeding, but there are many differences. In example, not all rules of evidence that apply in the courts also apply at School Disciplinary Hearings. Likewise, the Hearing Officers are administrators or educators taken from other clusters in the Gwinnett Schools, not actual judges. As such, a slightly different type of courtesy and respect needs to be afforded to them.

Many people seem to believe that these Hearings already have foredrawn conclusions and that attending the hearing is therefore pointless for the accused student. I respectfully disagree with that opinion. While there are times where the evidence is so strong that it is clear that a violation will be found, the outcome is not written in stone. In my experience the Hearing Officers endeavor to pay close attention to all evidence and mitigating information in making their decisions. Yes, there are few times when I can surmise what the most likely outcome will be, based on years of experience and where the evidence is clear, but, most cases fall somewhere in the grayer areas. 
If you have a child who is being referred to a Gwinnett County Public Schools Disciplinary Hearing, I invite you to call me to discuss the matter.

Thank you,
Bob Giannini

Frequently asked questions about Gwinnett School Disciplinary hearings:

Q - Where are they located?

A - Gwinnett Public Schools Disciplinary Hearings are held at the Office of Student Discipline and Behavioral Intervention, 723 Hi Hope Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043

Q - Can a lawyer represent a student at a Disciplinary Hearing?

A - If a student is referred to a Disciplinary Hearing he or she is allowed to be represented by an attorney at the Hearing. The School Board requires that the attorney notify the Board in advance. Attorneys who show at a Hearing without having properly and timely notified the School Board will not be allowed to represent the student.

Students who are called to attend the Hearing as a witness are not allowed to be represented by an attorney during the hearing. 

Q - I have heard of Disciplinary Panels. How are Disciplinary Panels Different from Disciplinary hearings?

A - The Disciplinary Hearings were previously referred to as Disciplinary Panels because a Panel of three administrators or teachers would hear each Disciplinary action. However, a few years back the School Board decided that for most Hearings only one administrator or teacher will hear each Disciplinary action. However, the old name of Panel still lingers. In fact, people still refer to a student being sent to a Disciplinary Hearing as being “paneled.”

Is attending a Disciplinary Hearing mandatory?

A student may elect to not attend a Disciplinary Hearings. In that case, the School will still present its evidence and the Hearing officer will decide the matter without input from the accused student.

Q - I have heard of Disciplinary Panels. How are Disciplinary Panels Different from Disciplinary hearings?

A - The Disciplinary Hearings were previously referred to as Disciplinary Panels because a Panel of three administrators or teachers would hear each Disciplinary action. However, a few years back the School Board decided that for most Hearings only one administrator or teacher will hear each Disciplinary action. However, the old name of Panel still lingers. In fact, people still refer to a student being sent to a Disciplinary Hearing as being “paneled.”
Is attending a Disciplinary Hearing mandatory?

A student may elect to not attend a Disciplinary Hearings. In that case, the School will still present its evidence and the Hearing officer will decide the matter without input from the accused student.

Q - What are the possible outcomes at the end of the Disciplinary Hearing?

A - Students who are found to not be in violation of the rules as alleged are allowed to immediately return to the school. If a student is found to in violation of the rules as alleged by the school, the possible outcomes include:
  • Being allowed to immediately return to the school immediately after the hearing.
  • Being suspended from the school for a predetermined period of time, such as the balance of the semester, the school year, or a full 12 months.
  • Students who are suspended are typically allowed to enroll in the GIVE Center. 
  • Permanent expulsion for all Gwinnett County Public Schools.
If student testifies at a Disciplinary Hearing, can that testimony be used against him/her in a subsequent criminal proceeding?

The short answer is “yes.” But, as so often in the law, there can be exceptions. But, I think it is safest to assume that what is said in the hearing could be used by the prosecution in subsequent criminal proceedings.
Can a student attend a hearing and choose to remain silent?

Yes. If the allegations are so severe that remaining silent is advisable, I strongly suggest that the student and his/her parents consult with an attorney prior to the hearing,

Contact the Gwinnett School Panel Attorney You Can Trust

At Giannini Law Office, we understand the benefit of options. We are dedicated to finding options that work best for your family, Our goal is to protect the rights of our clients and preserve their future to the best of our abilities. 

Contact Giannini Law Office today to schedule a no-obligation consultation. Call our office at 770.237.3800 or send us a message. 
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