School disciplinary hearings are considered quasi-administrative legal proceedings. In 1975, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in Goss v. Lopez that students facing such discipline have a right to due process.
Generally, due process in more serious cases where the outcome can be long-term suspension or expulsion has been determined to include fair notice, the right to an attorney, and the opportunity to present witnesses and evidence. In addition, states, local jurisdictions, and school districts can provide additional guidance and procedural rules.
School disciplinary hearings can be far more serious than they were a few decades ago. An increase in drugs, violence, and high-profile school shootings prompted schools to implement zero-tolerance programs with severe consequences. In fact, a 1997 U.S. Department of Education survey of more than 1,200 schools found that 79 percent had zero-tolerance policies regarding violence and 88 percent had zero-tolerance policies for drugs.