A decision to expel a student from a Victorian government school can be appealed by the student or their parent. This provides an opportunity to test the rare, but sometimes necessary, decision to expel a student. Principals must provide the student and their parent with copy of the expulsion appeal form for their consideration.
An expulsion can be appealed on the following grounds:
- A student has a history of behavioural issues, and there is insufficient evidence of prior interventions designed to address the behaviour and support the student.
- The grounds on which the student was expelled are considered unfair.
- The expulsion process was not followed by the principal.
- Other extenuating circumstances.
Principals are encouraged to use the expulsion appeal process and principal expulsion checklist which reflects the requirements of Ministerial Order 1125. This document will assist principals in understanding and acquitting each step of the appeal process.
Lodging an appeal
If a student or their parent chooses to appeal the principal’s expulsion decision, they must:
- complete the expulsion appeal form
- give the form to the principal within 10 business days of receiving a notice of expulsion.
Appeals lodged after 10 business days will only be considered in extenuating circumstances.
The principal must still forward late appeals to the area executive director who will make an assessment on a case by case basis.
Within one business day of receiving the appeal (including appeals received after 10 business days), the principal must provide the area executive director with a copy of the:
- Notice of expulsion
- Expulsion report (and the record of behaviour support and intervention meeting)
- Expulsion appeal form.
The principal should contact the regional engagement coordinator to advise that an appeal has been lodged. The student and their parent will continue to be supported during the appeal process.
Only the secretary or their delegate (usually the area executive director) has the authority to decide on an expulsion appeal. The area executive director will assess whether an expulsion review panel is required. They will convene a panel if it’s useful to make a recommendation on whether to uphold or overturn an expulsion decision.
The expulsion review panel is comprised of three members:
A departmental representative selected by the secretary or their delegate
An independent member from a pool of nominated staff from the Department of Health and Human Services, selected by the regional director
A RASP selected by the principal.
The RASP on an expulsion review panel cannot be the same person who has been engaged in the expulsion process to date and attended the behaviour support and intervention meeting.
The panel will consider the documentation provided and must provide an opportunity to hear from the student and affected parties:
The student and their parent will explain their reasons for appealing the expulsion decision. This can be done in person or via phone, and use interpreters if required.
The principal will be provided with an opportunity to be heard, either in person or by some other means considered appropriate by the Panel
The panel will give consideration to the safety and wellbeing of affected parties, including where an expulsion decision may be overturned, where relevant to the grounds of the appeal.
The expulsion review panel will deliberate and prepare a report for the decision maker (usually the area executive director). The report includes the relevant facts and considerations
The panel will make a recommendation on the appeal within one business day after the panel meeting.
The area executive director will consider the panel's recommendation to uphold or overturn the expulsion, but they are not bound to follow the recommendation. They must use their best endeavours to make a decision within 15 business days of receiving the expulsion appeal form from the principal.
They will contact the student and their parent within two business days of a decision being reached to let them know the outcome. They must also provide the principal, student and their parent with written notification of their decision and a copy of the expulsion review panel report.
Decision to uphold the expulsion
It is important that a supported transition plan is promptly developed and enacted to ensure the student remains engaged in education. Refer to the section of this policy on supported transition for further advice.
Decision to overturn the expulsion
If the decision is made to overturn the expulsion, the principal must take the following actions as soon as possible:
- Re-enrol the student in the school (where this is still the preference of the student and their parent) under a return to school plan developed with the student, parent and student’s teacher/s
- Remove record of the expulsion from the student’s permanent record and CASES21
- Notify the student and their parent in writing that their record has been amended.
The principal should work closely with the local area team to plan the student’s return to school. This can include convening a student support group and implementing a behaviour support plan for the student.
The focus of the student support group should be to:
- collaborate with the parent and student and put in place or review relevant interventions
- support to engage the student positively at school.
The principal should also give consideration to any supports required for students or staff affected by the student’s behaviour.
It may also be appropriate to consider accessing dispute resolution options where there is an ongoing conflict or tension between members of the school community. The principal can seek advice and support on dispute resolution options from their local area team.
Student Safety and Wellbeing Expert Panel
In rare cases, a principal may hold ongoing concerns for the safety of students at the school where an expulsion decision is overturned and the student plans to return to the school.
In these circumstances, the principal may refer the case to a Student Safety and Wellbeing Expert Panel (expert panel).
The panel will consider the matter with regard to student safety and will provide a recommendation to the secretary, as a delegate of the Minister. The recommendation is about the student’s future at the school and how to best support their ongoing engagement in education.
This step is designed to ensure the best outcome for all students in the school community.
It can only be pursued where the principal reasonably believes that:
- returning the student to the school poses a risk to the safety of other students
- the risk cannot be managed, including with additional support.
Principals are encouraged to discuss their views and concerns with the area executive director or a senior regional staff member to determine whether to refer a matter to an expert panel.
This is an opportunity for the principal, local Area team and regional office to work closely together to:
- collectively identify all available supports and interventions to mitigate safety concerns
- support the student’s successful transition back to school and ongoing educational engagement.
Expert panel process
If the principal believes the safety risks cannot be managed or mitigated, they should inform the area executive director of their intent to refer the case to an expert panel within 1 business day of being informed that the expulsion is overturned.
This is to ensure the area executive director is aware of the principal’s decision before informing the student and their parent of the outcome of the appeal process, which must occur within 2 business days.
An expert panel will be convened by members appointed on behalf of the secretary. They will consider the matter and make a recommendation on the student’s continued enrolment at the school.
The recommendation is in accordance with section 2.2.17 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006, with specific regard to the safety of the student or other students at the school.
The secretary will make a decision in a timely manner on whether to refuse the student’s continued enrolment at the school in the interests of the safety of all students at the school. The decision will have regard to the advice and recommendations of an expert panel. The secretary may also give consideration to any other comments made by an expert panel.
If an overturned expulsion is referred to an expert panel, the student’s re enrolment in the school will be deferred while the panel is considering the matter. It is important that the student remains supported throughout this process. The school and teacher designated to support the student throughout the expulsion process will continue to provide appropriate and meaningful work to support their ongoing education. The student’s student absence learning plan should be updated, if required.
The Department’s local area and regional teams will work closely with the school, students and their family during this period. This includes considering any further actions required to support the student’s continued learning.
The principal, student and their parent will be informed of the outcome of an expert panel process. The local area team and regional office will work closely with all involved to ensure they are appropriately supported and the actions arising from an expert panel process are implemented.
For further information, see student safety and wellbeing expert panels (pdf - 505.79kb).