Legal Update Memo No. 17-2019 – New Restraining Order Case and Managing Disruptive Persons on Campus (K-12)

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In June, the California Court of Appeal issued a decision interpreting Code of Civil Procedure § 527.8, which allows employers to seek a workplace violence restraining order against an individual on behalf of an employee.

The case, Los Angeles Unified School District v. Andy Obinna, Case No. B290225, 2019 WL 298399 (Cal. App. June 17, 2019) (“Obinna”), attached to this Legal Update, reviewed the conduct of a parent with “bad behavior,” and the reasonableness of the grant of a three-year restraining order. Under California Code of Civil Procedure § 527.8, employers seeking a restraining order must show that the employee has suffered “unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence from an individual in the workplace.” The Court upheld the restraining order in Obinna based on the “escalating nature of Obinna’s actions, his inability to change his behavior after receiving two reprimands, the frequency and severity of his threats and angry outbursts at the school, and the violent nature of the videos he sent the school by Facebook Messenger,” which included images of a person holding a gun and a knife.

In the event there is a need to remove a disruptive person from campus, clients have many legal options that may be utilized in addition, or prior to, seeking a restraining order under Code of Civil Procedure § 526.8. Below is a brief review of some of the options available under the various laws; however, we recommend consulting with legal counsel regarding each specific event.

Disruption of Schools[1] – School districts may ask any person who enters any school district building or grounds (or adjoining area) to leave if they are present without lawful business if their presence or acts interfere with the peaceful conduct of the school or disrupts the school or its pupils.

Acts Likely to Interfere with Peaceful Conduct[2] – School districts may ask non-students and non-employees to leave the premises/grounds when it reasonably appears that the person is committing any act likely to interfere with the peaceful conduct of the campus; however, such requests cannot be motivated by a desire to restrict free speech.

Withdrawal of Consent to Remain on Campus[3] – School districts may remove any person “whenever there is reasonable cause to believe that such person has willfully disrupted the orderly operation” of the school, as long as notice is given and an opportunity for a hearing is provided. Courts have interpreted § 626.4 to be limited to removals only if “conduct or words are such as to constitute, or incite to, a substantial and material physical disruption incompatible with the peaceful functioning of the academic institution and those upon its campus,” and “only when the person excluded has committed acts proscribed by other statutes.”

Registered Sex Offenders and Specified Drug Offenders[4] – Registered sex offenders and those convicted of the sale and/or possession of a controlled substance, or use, possession or being under the influence of a controlled substance on school property cannot enter any school district building or grounds without lawful business and written permission from the school principal. When the sex/drug offender is a parent/guardian, both requirements must still be met; however, schools are also required to permit such persons to be involved in the education of their child, pursuant to Education Code §§ 49091.10 and 51101. We encourage clients to contact legal counsel with specific questions regarding this topic.

Willful Disturbance of Public School or Meeting[5] – Willfully disturbing any public school or public school meeting is a misdemeanor.

Disruption of Classwork or Extracurricular Activities[6] – Parents/guardians or other persons whose conduct materially disrupts school activities or is involved in substantial disorder in a place where a school employee is required to be working is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other matter.

Legal Update written by Kaitlyn Schwendeman, Schools Legal Counsel.

The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice.  Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.  We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.

© 2019 School and College Legal Services of California

All rights reserved.  However, SCLS grants permission to any current SCLS client to use, reproduce, and distribute this Legal Update in its entirety for the client’s own non-commercial purposes.

[1] Penal Code § 626.8.

[2] Penal Code § 626.7.

[3] Penal Code § 626.4.

[4] Penal Code §626.81 and Penal Code § 626.85. “Specified drug offenders” is a defined term under the Penal Code, which has the meaning summarized above.

[5] Education Code § 32210.

[6] Education Code § 44811.