Procurement of Hearing Officers for Student Discipline Hearings
By Bill Munch, CPPO, CPPB
Hopefully, none of our students are currently facing discipline issues this early in the year, and since online learning is the way of the world right now. However, I received a question via one of the many listservs I belong to regarding whether or not student discipline hearing officers required a procurement. My first reaction was that I didn’t have any idea! Although, just to clarify, based upon my further research, hearing officers for student discipline hearings are NOT approved by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE).
Arizona’s Pupil Disciplinary Proceedings Statute
The governing statute is ARS 15-843 requires the governing board to conduct a hearing or assign a hearing officer. If the governing board chooses to use a hearing officer, the school district must procure and approve the hearing officers for those hearings. A link to this statute can be found at https://www.azleg.gov/ars/15/00843.htm.
For those districts that are members of the Arizona Risk Retention Trust, this Trust has a list of hearing officers they approve for student hearings. Members of the Trust may utilize this list for their hearing officer needs and remain compliant with procurement requirements. This is a great service that the Trust provides. Most school districts either use the Trust approved hearing officers or the governing board does their own hearings.
Districts can use the Trust approved hearing officers because they’re covered under the Trust agreement you have as part of your insurance. If your district is not part of the Trust, I don’t believe you’re going to be able to use their hearing officers. You would need to do a procurement based upon the threshold requirements.
Who Approves Student Discipline?
There were some thoughts out there that the Department of Education approves student discipline, hearing officers. This is NOT the case. I think the confusion comes from the fact that the Department of Education DOES approve hearing officers for protest hearings but not for student discipline. It is also easy to get confused with the private education provider list the Department of Education approves. The selection of hearing officers is the responsibility of the Governing Board in accordance with the statute noted above.
My Firsthand Experience as a Hearing Officer
I personally never had to deal with procurements for student discipline hearing officers in any of the districts I worked in. I do believe it’s because the district either utilized the governing board or selected a hearing officer through the Trust. I will note the only reason I knew that a governing board could be the hearing officer for expulsion hearing is that the first year I was on the board at Tempe Elementary that’s exactly what we did. It was totally draining and after that experience, the board said no more; we’re going to get a hearing officer!
I hope this little article sheds some light on the procurement of student discipline hearing officers. Stay well and I look forward to in-person contact in the future and the curtailment of “Brady Bunch” Zoom meetings. We could not have survived without them, but let’s hope they go back to being the exception and not the rule. Until next time, may all your procurement dreams come true!
Bill Munch, CPPO, CPPB is the Procurement Compliance and Training Officer for Valley Schools Management Group, recipient of the 2018 AASBO Bill Lovett Award and the 2016 NIGP National Purchasing Manager of the Year. He provides consultation on public procurement matters for school districts and vendors across the State of Arizona and across the country. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.