Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Administrator Recommendation of Expulsion Matrix

This matrix is a tool designed to help administrators decide when expulsion of a student is deemed mandatory, expected, or at administrators discretion.

Expulsion is the most serious disciplinary action that a school administrator may recommend and which a school district may impose on a student. Expulsion can only occur by action of the school district governing board, but administrators have an important role in recommending expulsion. Due process procedures for student expulsion are prescribed in California Education Code (EC) EC Section 48915 that categorizes the types of offenses which require an expulsion recommendation, as well as those which do not require an expulsion recommendation. If an administrator does recommend expulsion for a specified offense, a student is entitled to a hearing within 30 school days after that determination, unless the student or parents or guardians request in writing that the hearing be postponed. It is important to note that suspension for students in grades kindergarten to grade eight, inclusive, for disruption or defiance (EC Section 48900[k]) is prohibited, and expulsion for students in kindergarten to grade twelve, inclusive, is also prohibited.

EC Section 48900 paragraphs (v) and (w) encourage other means of correction, rather than suspension or expulsion, be used to bring about proper conduct as part of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports. This Multi-Tiered System of Supports includes restorative justice practices, trauma-informed practices, social and emotional learning, and schoolwide positive behavior interventions and support, which may be used to help pupils gain critical social and emotional skills, receive support to help transform trauma-related responses, understand the impact of their actions, and develop meaningful methods for repairing harm to the school community. This also includes referral to a School Attendance Review Board for students who are habitually insubordinate or disorderly during attendance at school (EC Section 48263). EC Section 48900.5 lists many other means of correction that may be documented prior to a suspension or expulsion recommendation.

It is also notable that EC Section 48917 authorizes the local governing board, at any time following voting to expel a pupil, to suspend the enforcement of the expulsion order and assign the student to a school, class, or program that is deemed appropriate for the rehabilitation of the student. During the period of the suspension of the expulsion order, the pupil is deemed to be on probationary status.

Must Recommend Expulsion (Mandatory) Shall Recommend Expulsion Unless Particular Circumstances Render Inappropriate May Recommend Expulsion (Discretionary)

EC 48915(c)

Act must be committed at school or school activity.

  1. Firearm
    1. Possessing firearm when a district employee verified firearm possession and when student did not have prior written permission from a certificated employee which is concurred with by the principal or designee.
    2. Selling or otherwise furnishing a firearm.
  2. Brandishing a knife at another person.
  3. Unlawfully selling a controlled substance listed in Health and Safety Code Section 11053 et. seq.
  4. Committing or attempting to commit a sexual assault as defined in subdivision (n) of EC 48900 or committing sexual battery as defined in subdivision (n) of 48900.
  5. Possession of an explosive.

Adapted from San Diego City Schools, Zero Tolerance Graduated Sanctions Student Discipline Guidelines, January 2001

Act must be committed at school or school activity.

EC Section 48915 (a) states that an administrator shall recommend expulsion for the following violations [except for subsections (c) and (e)] unless the administrator finds that expulsion is inappropriate due to a particular circumstance.

  1. Causing serious physical injury to another person, except in self-defense. EC Section 48915 (a)(1).
  2. Possession of any knife, explosive, or other dangerous object of no reasonable use to the pupil. EC Section 48915 (a)(2).
  3. Possession and/or use of any substance listed in Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11053) of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, except for the first offense for possession of not more than one avoirdupois ounce of marijuana other than concentrated cannabis.
  4. Robbery or extortion. EC Section 48915 (a)(4).
  5. Assault or battery, or threat of, on a school employee.

The recommendation for expulsion shall be based on one or both of the following:

  1. Other means of correction are not feasible or have repeatedly failed to bring about proper conduct.
  2. Due to the nature of the act, the presence of the pupil causes a continuing danger to the physical safety of the pupil or others [see Section 48915 (b)].

Acts committed at school or school activity or on the way to and from school or school activity.

  1. Inflicted physical injury†
  2. Possessed dangerous objects
  3. Possessed drugs or alcohol   (policy determines which offense)
  4. Sold look alike substance representing drugs or alcohol
  5. Committed robbery/extortion
  6. Caused damage to property‡
  7. Committed theft
  8. Used tobacco (policy determines which offense)
  9. Committed obscenity/profanity/vulgarity
  10. Possessed or sold drug paraphernalia
  11. Disrupted or defied school staff
  12. Received stolen property
  13. Possessed imitation firearm
  14. Committed sexual harassment
  15. Harassed, threatened or intimidated a student witness
  16. Sold prescription drug Soma
  17. Committed hazing
  18. Engaged in an act of bullying, including, but not limited to, bullying committed by means of an electronic act, as defined in subdivisions (f) and (g) of Section 32261, directed specifically toward a pupil or school personnel.

The recommendation for expulsion shall be based on one or both of the following:

  1. Other means of correction are not feasible or have repeatedly failed to bring about proper conduct.
  2. Due to the nature of the act, the presence of the pupil causes a continuing danger to the physical safety of the pupil or others [see Section 48915 (b)].

† Section 48900 (s) (Statutes of 2001) states a pupil who aids or abets in infliction of physical injury to another, as defined in Penal Code 31, may suffer suspension, but not expulsion. However, if a student is adjudged by a court to have caused, attempted to cause, or threatened personal injury, the student may be expelled.

‡ Section 48900 (t) "school property" includes, but is not limited to, electronic files and databases.

Behavioral Intervention Strategies and Supports
Provides information about behavioral intervention strategies and supports which can keep students in school and hold them accountable without suspension or expulsion.

Questions:   Educational Options Office | 916-323-2183
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, December 1, 2020