NG Results: Young client’s case spurs discussion on policy change

By Nick Gansner of Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016

Attorney Gansner recently represented a Madison sixth-grader, Dereian Brown, against the Madison Metropolitan School District as the district sought to expel him. MMSD alleged that Dereian brought a BB gun to school, even while acknowledging that he never brandished or threatened anyone and that no teacher or school staff member ever witnessed him possessing any such thing. The evidence against Dereian was lacking and the administrative process deeply flawed. The expulsion case against Dereian should not have been brought in the first place.

Dereian and his family bravely chose to make what is normally a closed and secretive process open to the public. The case received significant media attention and outcry from the community.

We are proud that Dereian’s bravery has now led members of the MMSD Board to re-examine its policies. Throughout Dereian’s case, MMSD’s position was that it had no discretion, that it was required to pursue Dereian’s expulsion. That was not and is not true. But we are very pleased that the MMSD Board has recognized the need to change its policies and explicitly inject discretion into the expulsion process.

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