How can a school rule be different than the state law?

In my state, we have a self-defense law. If someone hits you, you can use equal force if you feel like your well being is threatened with no punishment.
However, in school, if someone hits you, and you hit them back in self-defense, both students get suspended (i.e. punished.)
How can this be legal?

I wouldn't think this would go against the law. The students are not facing legal ramifications, they are facing consequences the school has determined for breaking a school policy. I am certainly not a legal expert, though, so this is just my opinion/guess.

Honestly, it just is what it is because suspension is up to Admin's discretion and they have to get the BofEd's approval first (in my district). I don't think the legal laws come into play unless the parents of the "victim" want to press charges.
I've seen lots of fights in my district and I've seen many situations where regardless of who starts the fight, both (very rare) or neither student is suspended. There is no set guideline for all situation although we do have a district wide cod-of-conduct. Once again, both students being suspended for fighting is very rare here since my district tries not to suspend students for fighting - unless they hit an adult during the fight.
Since it is up to Admin's discretion in regards to suspension, they must also consider the parental blow back that will follow. Furthermore, in many cases, Admin will want to suspend a child but the Board of Ed won't approve it. I've seen it (was in the room when Admin made the call) first hand.

Schools have wide latitude to maintain order. This is why they get to maintain speech/dress codes, ignore civil procedure and due process, and in some cases use corporeal punishment.
I'm not a big fan of a lot of these. I think they're abused. I think when schools ban words like, "****", on the theory that it will threaten order if they don't, they're stretching the truth considerably. Likewise if they decide on policies like, "No mohawks". Yet, I do recognize that schools need more leeway in enforcement than would be acceptable in general society.

There is a third grade girl who has been getting punched in the stomach during PE, and never went to a teacher. After the sixth time (by her count), she built up the courage to tell her classroom teacher. Why did it take so long to tell? By her words, "I don't want to get in trouble, and I know that anyone who gets in a fight gets suspended."
It would have been nice to tell the girl she was mistaken, but according to the school rule book, anybody involved in a physical altercation gets suspended. There's nothing separating pure victims of physical altercations with equal participants, and based on precedent, she indeed would most likely end up suspended if she went to administration.

All of this is a result of "zero tolerance". Administration, afraid of making "judgements" and using common sense, say "Here are the rules, our hands are tied." The children suffer for it. Litigation litigation litigation..........

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