Can a Student Get Expelled for a Prank?

By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. on February 12, 2019 12:07 PM

Pranks can be funny, as long as they're done tastefully. But, there's a thin line between an acceptable prank and an unacceptable one, particularly if a school is involved. It's important to let your kids know that while pranks may be funny to them and their friends, school officials may not appreciate the joke. In fact, pranks that violate student codes of conduct could lead to suspension, or if serious enough, even potentially expulsion.

Some Things Are Just Not Funny

Pranks that could be interpreted as bullying could lead to serious trouble for a student. In fact, almost every state has laws that make bullying a crime. For example, Missouri has a law making it a felony for students to bully others at school. So, pranks that involve verbal or physical acts against another student, could leave the realm of "prank" and enter the world of "bullying." Similarly, pranks that could be interpreted as sexual harassment could lead to trouble for the prankster. As for pranks that involve bomb threats or school shootings are never funny and should always be avoided.

Of course, like beauty, humor can sometimes be in the eye of the beholder. Depending on the child's age or maturity level, they truly may not have had any ill will in performing a particular prank. If the child is punished for it - whether through detention, suspension, or expulsion - parents do generally have a right to challenge the school's disciplinary decision.

If you have questions about how your child's actions were handled by their school, or want to learn more about students' rights, it's a good idea to get in touch with a local attorney who will be familiar with your particular state's laws.

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