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Request By:

Mr. Hodges O. Cheaney, Chairman
Henderson Human Rights Commission
Henderson Municipal Center
Box 716
Henderson, Kentucky 42420


Opinion By: Robert F. Stephens, Attorney General; Robert L. Chenoweth, Assistant Attorney General

As the Chairman of the Henderson Human Rights Commission you have asked the Office of the Attorney General to advise you concerning the personal rights of a student who has been expelled from public school. You asked us to respond to the following questions.

1. Assuming a public school has, pursuant to notice, expelled a student from said system for an extended period of time, up to the balance of a calendar school year, what can such a student or his parents or guardian do in attempting to obtain schooling for said student during said period of expulsion?

2. Assuming such a student, as hereinabove described, has been expelled from his public schooling for an extended period of time, up to and including the remainder of the school year, what rights of appeal or review does such a student, his parents or guardian have?

A child does not have a federal, constitutionally protected right to an education.

San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973). However, on the basis of our State Constitution and state laws, children in Kentucky plainly have legitimate claims of entitlement to a public education and thus is created a property interest in education for these children. Section 186 of our Kentucky Constitution provides that the General Assembly is to create an efficient system of public common schools. KRS 159.010 calls for compulsory attendance between the ages of seven and sixteen. KRS 158.100 requires our public schools to provide at least an approved twelve-grade school service for all children of high school grade under twenty-one years of age residing in a school district.

School personnel are not without statutory authority nevertheless to withdraw the above referred to right to an education. KRS 160.290 gives school boards the broad power to develop rules and regulations governing, among other things, the "conduct of pupils." Also, in KRS 158.150 the statutory right to suspend or expel students is prescribed to specific school personnel. These school personnel may not temporarily, by suspension or expulsion, deny a child's property interest in educational benefits without following rudimentary due process procedures. See OAG 76-735 and the authorities cited therein.

Concerning your first question, you ask what is the position of the student during a period of expulsion which may be for an extended period of time but should be for no longer than the calendar school year, see OAG 74-165, copy attached. It would be possible, although not necessarily practical, for the parents or legal guardian or custodian of a child who has been expelled from the schools in one district to establish legal residence in another school district and seek to have the child enrolled in that school. A strong argument could be made, however, that since we have a unitary system of schools in Kentucky a school may refuse to enroll a child who has been expelled from another school system in the state. Another possibility would be to enroll a child in a private or parochial regular day school approved by the State Board of Education. See KRS 159.030 (1)(b), copy attached. Lastly, although there exists no statutory obligation to do so, the school district may have an established alternative school or program for dealing with students who disrupt the educational process. This usually means a complete educational program and often one that operates in separate quarters with a separate staff and with rules, curriculum and scheduling adopted to meet the individual needs of students who have been suspended or expelled from the regular school program.

As for rights of appeal on review of an expulsion of a student, it is to be noted that the last sentence of KRS 158.150, copy attached, provides "The decision of the board should be final." Legal action would be maintainable in a court of competent jurisdiction with the test being whether the school personnel have acted arbitrarily or maliciously. See

The Sunshine Law Library is not exhaustive and may contain errors from source documents or the import process. Nothing on this website should be taken as legal advice. It is always best to consult with primary sources and appropriate counsel before taking any action.
Lexis Citation:
1977 Ky. AG LEXIS 775
Cites (Untracked):
  • OAG 74-165

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