Discipline

Each school has a discipline policy. It’s called the student engagement policy and it’s decided by the school community.

It includes:

  • your school’s expectations on going to school and your behaviour
  • the consequences if you don’t meet these expectations.

You can ask your school for a copy of the engagement policy.

Suspensions and expulsions

Suspensions and expulsion are consequences that are reserved for very serious incidents.

The information on this page is for government schools.

You can be suspended or expelled if you:

  1. behave in such a way as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person
  2. cause significant damage to or destruction of property
  3. commit or attempt to commit or are knowingly involved in the theft of property
  4. possess, use or sell or deliberately assist another person to possess, use or sell illicit substances or weapons
  5. fail to comply with any clear and reasonable instruction of a staff member so as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person
  6. consistently engage in behaviour that vilifies, defames, degrades or humiliates another person based on:
    • age
    • breastfeeding
    • gender
    • identity
    • impairment
    • industrial activity
    • lawful sexual activity
    • marital status
    • parent or carer status
    • physical features
    • political belief or activity
    • pregnancy
    • race
    • religious belief or activity
    • sex
    • sexual orientation
    • personal association (whether as a relative or otherwise) with a person who is identified by reference to any of the above attributes
  7. consistently behave in an unproductive manner that interferes with the wellbeing, safety or educational opportunities of any other student

You can be suspended or expelled if you do any of these things while:

  • attending school
  • travelling to or from school, or
  • at a school activity away from the school, including travelling to or from the activity.

How suspensions work

Suspension means you are removed from school or your classes for a period of time. After the suspension you go back to class.

What happens during a suspension

The principal will give you and your parents information about why you’re being suspended and for how long.

You can’t be suspended for more than five days in a row without the school getting special approval. You also can’t be suspended for more than 15 days in a school year without the school getting special approval.

You will usually get school work to do during the suspension.

You might do an in-school suspension. This means you still go to school but you’re away from your normal classes. You may assist a teacher for the day or do outside work.

Get help during your suspension

You will have some one help you through the suspension. They are called a ‘relevant person’. If you’re under 18, this person will usually be your parent, guardian or carer.

If your parent can’t or won’t be the relevant person, they can choose some one they trust. This is usually a relative or family friend. If there are no other people available, the principal will help you request some one to help.

If you’re 18 or older, you can be your own relevant person or you can request some one else.

If you think your suspension isn’t fair

Here’s some things you can do:

  • Calmly talk to the principal, assistant principal or teacher involved and explain your version of events.
  • Talk to your parents about setting up a meeting with the school.
  • Work with your parents or carer to write a letter to the school with your point of view.
  • Talk to a community liaison officer in your closest regional office. Contact your closest regional office to speak to an officer.

How expulsions work

Expulsion means you are permanently excluded from the school you are attending.

Expulsions happen if your behaviour is so serious, the principal has decided it puts other people’s health and safety at risk. They can only expel you if it’s the only option left.

What happens if the principal is considering expelling you

Your principal will:

  • find out what happened
  • invite you and your parent/carer to a meeting. The meeting is called a behaviour support and intervention meeting.

The behaviour support and intervention meeting

The principal must hold this meeting before deciding whether to expel you. In this meeting you can:

  • hear why they are considering expulsion
  • make sure the school is giving you the support you need
  • tell the school what happened in your own words and why you behaved in this way
  • understand the impact of your behaviour on others
  • discuss what happens next.

It is important to remember the principal will only decide if you are expelled after the meeting.

The meeting will include:

  • you
  • your parents or carers
  • the principal and one or two school staff
  • a person from the education department who is there to have an independent view. They are called a regional approved support person.

You or your parents or carer can request an interpreter.

You are also able to bring an independent support person.

If you are 18 years or over, or if you are considered mature enough, you can request to represent yourself and choose your own support person.

If your parents/carers can not attend the meeting they can nominate another trusted adult to act in their place.

How long it takes

The principal must let you know their decision within two business days of the meeting. You are likely to be suspended from school during this time. It’s important that you continue your studies even when you are not at school.

Your school will give you work so you can keep up with your studies. If your suspension is likely to be for longer than a week, a teacher will be assigned to support you during your suspension. You or your parent/carer can contact the school if this hasn’t happened.

If you’re not expelled

The school will give you help to return to class. It’s likely you and your parent will be invited to a student support group meeting. In this meeting you plan how you’ll return to school and make sure there’s enough supports and help for you.

If you’re expelled

You’ll receive a notice of expulsion document. This includes the reasons you’re being expelled. You’ll also receive an appeal form.

A person from the education department will contact you and your parent to talk about your transition to a new school or training setting.

You will usually start at a new school within four weeks. It’s important that you are involved in these conversations to find the best one for you.

Some of the things you can talk about are:

  • what your interests are
  • what you like about school
  • how you like to learn
  • your aspirations for the future.

Your rights

Your right to education is set out in law.

When expulsion is being considered, you have the right to be heard. The behaviour support and intervention meeting gives you the chance to explain things from your perspective.

You also have the right not to be discriminated against. This is set out in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.

Appeals

If the principal decides to expel you, you have the right to appeal the decision.

You or your parent must complete and sign the appeal form and give it to the principal. This must be done within 10 business days after you receive the notice of expulsion.

Your appeal will go to the education department for consideration. The director may organise a meeting to talk about the appeal. If this happens, you and your parent will be invited to talk about the reasons for the appeal. You can bring a support person to this meeting.

Support person

It’s important that you have someone to support you and help you during the process.
If your parent can’t attend, another adult can support you.

You can also get a support person from the education department. Call 9637 2000, tell them your suburb and ask for your regional engagement coordinator. You can also access a support person from a community organisation.

A support person can help you and your parents to:

  • understand what is happening
  • understand your rights
  • be heard at meetings
  • think about, and communicate what you want to happen
  • lodge an appeal.

If you have a disability

You or your parent can talk to the:

If you are Koorie

You or your parent can contact:

If you need to speak to some one about how you’re feeling

You might want to talk to someone about how you are feeling. You can speak to your school or a trusted adult. You can also make an appointment to see your doctor or contact:

If you go to private school

Private schools have their own procedures. You should ask your school first, or you can contact:

More detailed advice

You can read the suspension and expulsion information given to parents or the information given to schools​.