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A due process hearing allows a person to respond to governmental action that would deprive the person of life, liberty, or property. Generally, a due process hearing allows a person to respond to adverse claims, present evidence against those claims, and raise objections. Due process means that a neutral decision maker will conduct the hearing and render a decision. The decision maker is not necessarily a judge. It could be a hearing officer, a hearing panel, a jury, or some other official responsible for conducting the hearing.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution obligates the federal government to provide people with procedural due process. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies to state governments, and it requires state government to provide people with procedural due process. The purpose of due process is to ensure that the government is not acting arbitrarily. It protects the rights of individuals from governmental abuse. The type of due process hearing, however, will vary depending on the type of individual interest that is in jeopardy.
To illustrate, people in the U.S. have a property interest in receiving an education because school attendance is mandatory. If a school acts to suspend a student for 10 days or more, the school is obligated to provide the student with a due process hearing prior to suspension. The school is also required to provide the student with notice of why it wants to suspend him or her. The due process hearing allows the student to explain why the school should not take action to suspend. If a school suspends the student for less than 10 days, it is not required to provide a due process hearing unless it has adopted policies and procedures establishing that it must.
A school can immediately remove or suspend a student, if the student poses an immediate threat to the school or other students. The school, however, would have to provide the student with a due process hearing as soon as possible after the immediate removal to meet its obligation under the U.S. Constitution. A school is not required to provide a due process hearing to a student if the school suspends a student for failing to meet certain academic requirements as long as the student was aware that he or she was failing to meet such requirements and had an opportunity to correct such deficiencies.
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