Expulsion considerations

Guidance for schools on when to consider expelling a student.​

Expulsion overview

On rare occasions, an individual student’s behaviour may compromise the health, safety and wellbeing of other students and staff at the school.

When a behavioural incident is of such magnitude that an expulsion is considered, it is important that:

  • a transparent, fair and supportive process is in place
  • there are appropriate checks and balances at each stage.

The expulsion process has a focus on procedural fairness and comprehensive support for all students.

It aims to ensure that:

  • opportunities are provided to consider the effect of a student’s behaviour on all affected parties
  • decisions are informed by the safety, wellbeing and educational interests of the student and the school community
  • vulnerable students are appropriately supported.

Deciding to expel a student is rare. If this decision is made, the principal and Department will work closely with the student and their family. They will ensure the student and family are supported to successfully transition to a new educational setting as soon as possible.

Grounds for expulsion

Expulsion may be considered if the student:

  • behaves in such a way as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person
  • causes significant damage to or destruction of property
  • commits or attempts to commit or is knowingly involved in the theft of property
  • possesses, uses or sells or deliberately assists another person to possess, use or sell illicit substances or weapons
  • fails 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
  • consistently engages 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.
  • consistently behaves in an unproductive manner that interferes with the wellbeing, safety or educational opportunities of any other student.

The behaviour must have whilst:

  • attending school
  • travelling to and from school
  • engaging in any school related activity away from school, including when travelling to or from that activity.

The student’s behaviour must also be of such magnitude that expulsion is the only available mechanism.

The principal must have regard to the need of the student to receive an education compared to the need to maintain the:

  • the health, safety and wellbeing of other students and staff at the school
  • effectiveness of the school's educational programs.

Considering human rights and anti-discrimination obligations

When the principal is making a decision about whether to expel a student they must consider and comply with:

  • the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
  • anti-discrimination legislation.

The principal must consider the implications for the people affected. A decision about expulsion may affect the rights of several people. In those cases, different rights and interests must be balanced. 

If you’re intending to take a decision or action which will limit a right under the charter, contact the Department’s Legal Division. They can help to assess whether the limit is reasonable and justified. Phone on 9637 3146 or email legal.services@edumail.vic.gov.au

Authority to expel

Only principals have authority to make a decision to expel a student. This authority cannot be delegated.

Principals are encouraged to engage their regional engagement coordinator and the local area team to ensure the best outcome is reached.

When making a decision, the principal must properly, fairly and without bias consider all relevant matters. This includes the impact of the behaviour of the student on other affected parties.

The secretary of the Department must approve a principal’s decision to expel a student aged eight years or less. This is because the Department recognises the importance of supporting very young students to remain engaged in education.

Removing a student from school while considering an expulsion

The principal may decide that the student should be suspended from school immediately while an expulsion is being considered. This may happen if the student’s behaviour is putting the health, safety and wellbeing of themselves or any other person at significant risk.

The principal must follow the suspension process set out in Ministerial Order 1125, and:

  • ensure the behaviour meets the grounds for suspension
  • provide the student and their parent or carer with a notice of suspension
  • record the suspension in CASES21
  • provide the student with meaningful work including developing a student absence learning plan if the suspension extends beyond three days
  • seek approval from the regional director if the suspension extends beyond five days.

To apply for approval use the Request for approval: suspension over five days form.

Students in out-of-home-care

Students in out-of-home care face additional barriers to engaging in education. Many of these students have experienced trauma and multiple transitions between schools as a result of their living arrangements.

If a student in out-of-home care is being considered for expulsion, the relevant regional director must be notified. This is so the obligations in the Out-of-home care education commitment can be met.

In addition to advising the regional director, the principal should:

  • ensure the Education support guarantee has been delivered on. This includes arranging for an educational needs assessment and appointing a learning mentor.
  • work with the DHHS Care Team and learning mentor to understand the impact that trauma may have on the student’s behaviours, and any underlying needs
  • contact the Lookout Education Support Centre in their region for advice on available supports.

For more information, see LOOKOUT Education Support Centers.

Koorie students

Some Koorie students face increased barriers to engagement in education. In addition to advising the regional director, the principal can seek additional support for Koorie students through their local area team or regional engagement coordinator.

Principals must advise the regional director if they are considering expelling a Koorie student.

For information on the Department’s dedicated Koorie workforce, see Koorie education coordinators.

Principals should also let families know that they can contact the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated​. (VAEAI) directly for independent support on 9481 0800.

Students with a disability

Principals must advise the regional director if they are considering an expulsion for a student who is eligible for funding under the Program for Students with Disabilities

For any students with a disability, the principal should also seek support from their local area team to consider if:

  • the student’s behaviour is a symptom or manifestation of their disability
  • the student could be supported to remain and positively engage at the school with appropriate intervention and support
  • reasonable adjustments have been made to support the student to participate in their education on the same basis as their peers without a disability.

International students

The principal must contact the International Education Division on 9637 2990. The decision to expel may impact on the student’s visa conditions.

This will ensure that the necessary transition arrangements and implications for the student’s visa can be managed. It will also ensure that the Department complies with its obligations as a registered CRICOS provider under Commonwealth legislation.

For more information see International Student Program quality standard 13 - Deferment, suspension or cancellation of study during enrolment, see ISP quality standards and school resources.