Expulsion process

​Before starting this process, you should read the expulsion​ considerations

On this page, ‘parent’ refers to both parents and carers.

Interventions and supports come first

To support students to be happy, connected and engaged in education, it's important to:

  • understand the factors that influence and trigger behaviour
  • address those factors.

If students repeatedly demonstrate challenging behaviours, schools should implement structured intervention strategies as part of a staged response to address the behaviours.

Find supports

Interventions and supports implemented at the school-level may include:

  • whole school strategies to build a positive culture and professional learning to build the capacity of school staff. For example through School Wide Positive Behaviour Support and Respectful Relationships
  • individualised interventions and supports. For example supports developed and delivered by allied health professionals. This can include Student Support Services and modifications to routine and learning environments
  • targeted intervention and supports for vulnerable students. This includes students in out-of-home care, with a disability or who are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

If behaviours escalate or are complex, principals should seek support from the Department’s area team and regional staff. They can advise on, and facilitate access to:

  • evidence-based interventions
  • expert supports and services, particularly for vulnerable students and students with complex needs.

Refer to the student engagement and inclusion guidance for advice on developing positive student behaviours and available supports.

Implement support before expulsion is considered

Interventions and supports should be implemented and documented well before an expulsion is considered. Expulsions are a serious disciplinary measure in Victorian government schools. They should only be used as a last resort when all other disciplinary measures, interventions, supports and options have been exhausted.​​

Reflect and investigate

Following a behavioural incident of such magnitude that expulsion may be considered, it is critical to reflect and conduct a thorough investigation to ensure procedural fairness. Expulsion should not be a pre-determined outcome of this process.

Principals are encouraged to engage and collaborate with the Department’s local area team and regional office. They can give advice on supports and interventions that may not have been considered or implemented previously.

Principals are encouraged to use the principal expulsion checklist. This checklist includes the requirements of Ministerial Order 1125. It will assist principals in ensuring they follow each step of the process, regardless of whether they proceed to an expulsion.

At the reflection and investigation stage, it is essential that all:

  • supports and interventions implemented are thoroughly documented
  • proper consideration is given to the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 and anti-discrimination obligations.

This is important to ensure the best outcome for a student. It also  ensures principals have sufficient written evidence to support an expulsion decision if it’s later reviewed.

To facilitate reflection and a thorough investigation, critical actions for principals are:

  • Respond immediately to the incident.
  • Establish the context and details of the student’s behaviour.
  • Consider the impact on affected parties, including other students at the school.
  • Communicate with students and parents.
  • Consider human rights and anti-discrimination obligations.
  • Put an immediate suspension in place, if appropriate.
  • Contact relevant area and regional staff.
  • Take into account the considerations and actions required for vulnerable students.
  • Consider if new interventions and supports can be put in place.
  • Consider if the behaviour meets one of the grounds for expulsion and is of significant magnitude to warrant proceeding through the expulsion process.

These actions may take place concurrently.

Communicate with parents and carers

When investigating a behavioural incident, it is important to communicate with the student and their parent as soon as possible. This is so that they are aware of the situation and can put in place supports as required. Depending on the circumstances, this may happen before, or during the initial stages of an investigation.

When communicating with the student and their parent, principals should:

  • provide details of the alleged incident or behaviour
  • let them know an investigation is underway
  • let them know the investigation will be conducted fairly with consideration given to the student’s best interests and the safety and wellbeing of the school community
  • seek any relevant information that could inform the investigation
  • advise if a suspension is being put in place and follow the relevant suspension processes
  • establish if any other immediate wellbeing supports are needed that can be provided by the school or the Department’s local Area team.

Students with separated parents

All parents and carers are entitled to be notified if there is a behavioural incident where expulsion may be considered. If there is more than one parent who would like to participate in the expulsion process, it is important to involve all of them.
If you need advice on how to proceed with an expulsion in these circumstances, we recommend you contact Legal Division on 9637 3146 or legal.services@edumail.vic.gov.au

Adult students or mature minors

The law recognises that as children become older and more mature they are more capable of making their own decisions on a wide range of issues.

Students may request that their parent not be contacted if they are:

  • 18 years or older
  • considered to be a mature minor by the school for the purposes of expulsion.

The principal should strongly encourage these students to have a support person. For further advice on determining whether a student a mature minor, see ​decision making responsibilities for students

Seek assistance from a regional approved support person

Each region has a number of staff nominated to act as a regional approved support person (RASP) for the purpose of an expulsion process.

A RASP’s key responsibility is to:

  • provide advice and support to the principal throughout an expulsion process
  • ensure the school and student have accessed all relevant interventions and supports.

A RASP will not take on any of the principal’s responsibilities or decision-making authority.

The principal must seek the support of a RASP to:

  • ensure all available supports and interventions to support the behaviours of concern are explored
  • ensure alternative disciplinary measures are considered for the student
  • attend the behaviour support and intervention meeting
  • assist in implementing the actions agreed at the behaviour support and intervention meeting
  • ensure that the appropriate education, training and/or employment options are considered for the student.

Principals should contact their regional engagement coordinator to be connected with a regional approved support perso​n.

Behaviour support and intervention meeting

A behaviour support and intervention meeting must be held when an expulsion is being considered.  Expulsion should not be a pre-determined outcome of this meeting.

The meeting provides an opportunity for the student and their parent to meet with the principal and collaboratively discuss the student’s behaviour. The meeting must be conducted as informally as possible to encourage participation from all parties.

Meeting purpose

The purpose of the meeting is to:

  • advise the student and their parent that the principal is considering whether to expel the student
  • ensure all available supports and interventions for behaviours of concern are considered for the student
  • outline the grounds for expulsion that are being considered. This includes the evidence to support a finding that the student has engaged in relevant conduct
  • ensure that the student and their parent have the opportunity to be heard
  • consider the impact of the behaviour of the student on other affected parties
  • identify the future educational, training and/or employment options most suited to the student’s needs and agree on a course of action in the event expulsion is decided.

Actions before the meeting

The principal must provide a parent and their child with:

  • the information for parents and carers about school expulsions
  • the information for students about school expulsions if appropriate.

The principal must contact the student and their parent to inform them of the date, time and place for the meeting. They must take reasonable steps to find a suitable time for all parties to meet.

The principal must also advise them:

  • of the importance of both the student and their parent attending the meeting
  • that if the student's parent is unable or unwilling to attend, they/or the student may nominate another adult to attend
  • of the matters to be discussed at the meeting, which will include the impact of the student’s behaviour on the affected parties
  • that support person of their choice who is not acting for fee or reward may accompany them
  • that if the student and their parent do not attend the behaviour support and intervention meeting, it may proceed without them and a decision may be made without the benefit of hearing from them.

The principal must seek the support of a RASP to:

  • attend the meeting, where appropriate
  • ensure all available supports and interventions to support the behaviours of concern are considered for the student
  • ensure that alternative disciplinary measures are considered for the student
  • ensure that the appropriate education, training and/or employment options are considered for the student
  • assist in implementing the course of action agreed to at the behaviour support and intervention meeting.

Communicating with parents/carers and mature minors

A person from the suitable persons list may be requested to support the student if:

  • reasonable attempts to accommodate a parents’ needs fail
  • and a suitable time for all parties to meet cannot be found.

In this case, the principal must ensure that the key points discussed at the meeting are recorded in writing and sent to the student and their parent.

Students may request that their parent not be contacted if they are:

  • 18 years or older
  • considered to be a mature minor by the school for the purposes of expulsion.

The principal should strongly encourage these students to have a support person accompany them.

At the meeting

The record of behaviour support and intervention meeting template includes guidance and an agenda to assist the principal in conducting the meeting.

During the meeting, the principal should:

  • discuss grounds upon which an expulsion is being considered and present the evidence to support this
  • provide the student, their parent and independent support persons with an opportunity to be heard and to provide any further context to the behaviours
  • identify the needs and goals of the student and family for the student’s future
  • discuss potential options for a supported transition.

The principal also needs to consider:

  • the impact of the student’s behaviour on other affected parties
  • alternative disciplinary measures
  • new interventions and supports that can be put in place to retain the student at school (expulsion is not a predetermined outcome of this meeting).

The principal must document the key points discussed at the meeting. If the student and their parent cannot attend the meeting, the principal must send them a copy of the meeting record.

Meeting attendees and supports

It is important that the student has a person to support and advocate for them throughout the process.  If the student and their parent do not attend the behaviour support and intervention meeting, it may proceed without them. A decision may be made without the benefit of hearing from them.

A relevant person, support person and interpreter can also attend the meeting if required.

Relevant person

In some circumstances, the student’s parent may be unable or unwilling to participate in the expulsion process. In this case, they can nominate a relevant person to act on their behalf.
If a student or their parent nominates someone to act as a relevant person the principal must:

notify the adult of that nomination (a phone call or email is recommended)

explain their duties and obligations and provide them with a copy of Information for parents and carers about school expulsions

ensure that the student and parent complete the nomination and acceptance form.

Suitable person

If the student or their parent are unable to nominate a relevant person, some Department staff have been trained as suitable persons. They can act as the student’s relevant person for the purposes of expulsion.

To access a suitable person, the principal should submit a request to appoint a person from the suitable person List form to the area executive director.

If the student is considered a mature minor, they may choose to nominate a trusted adult or an adult from the Suitable Person list as a relevant person using the same form.

Support person

A support person can be someone a family trusts and chooses to be involved as a support throughout the expulsion process. A support person cannot act for a fee or reward.

Students and families can access an independent support person from a community organisation. Key community organisations include:

Interpreter

The principal should organise an interpreter, including Auslan, if required.

Decision

In some instances it may be appropriate to expel a student who compromises the health, safety and wellbeing of the school community. This is to protect the learning environment for all students and to continue with effective teaching.

This may be a difficult decision for a principal to balance the needs of all students in the school community.

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

The principal must properly, fairly and without bias consider all relevant matters, including the impact of the behaviour of the student on other affected parties.

The principal must determine whether the expulsion is appropriate in light of:

  • the behaviour for which the student is being expelled
  • the educational needs of the student
  • any disability of the student
  • the age of the student
  • the magnitude and impact of the student’s actions
  • the residential and social circumstances of the student
  • all information or documentation provided by the student or their parent.

The regional engagement coordinator can provide advice to principals on documenting their expulsion decision. The RASP can support the principal to consider the best options for the student and the school.

While the principal is making a decision, the school should continue to provide the student with work. If a student is suspended for longer than five days, the designated teacher should provide support during this time.

Timelines for decision

Following the behaviour support and intervention meeting, the principal must notify the student and their parent of the decision to expel or not expel within the following timelines:

  • where the student is 9 years or more: within 2 business days
  • where the student is aged 8 or less: within 10 business days, and only once the Department Secretary’s approval is obtained.

Students ages 8 or less

The secretary of the Department must approve a principal’s decision to expel a student aged eight years or less.

For a student aged eight years or less, the principal should contact the regional engagement coordinator and work with them to prepare a brief to the secretary. The brief outlines the principal’s recommendation and seeks approval.

The principal will be informed of the secretary’s decision within 10 business days to enable them to notify the student and their parent within the required time period. Until the secretary makes their decision, the principal may not proceed with their expulsion decision.

Deciding not to expel

If the principal decides not to expel the student, the student should be supported to continue at the school. The principal should convene a student support group in collaboration with the student and their parent. The focus of this group is to put in place additional, or review existing, interventions and supports to engage the student positively at school.

Referrals to school based, local area, allied health and community supports should be made as appropriate. Other reasonable adjustments to the student’s program should also be considered.

Building a working relationship with the student and parent should be a priority. Depending on the circumstances that led to the behaviour support and intervention meeting, the principal should consider seeking support from conflict resolution services. This is to address any unresolved issues and to restore relationships and a positive learning environment.

For further advice on conflict resolution services, see conflict resolution in schools.

Deciding to expel

To maintain procedural fairness and transparency, principals must complete and retain detailed documentation of their decision. This is also important as a decision can be appealed by the student or their parent on the basis that the process was not followed.

Principals must provide the student and their parent with a notice of expulsion and a copy of the expulsion appeal form. The notice of expulsion must state:

  • the grounds for the expulsion
  • the reasons for the expulsion
  • the date of the commencement of the expulsion
  • that the student has a right to appeal the expulsion decision.

The principal must also prepare a written expulsion report which contains:

  • a short statement of the history of the student's time at the school
  • the grounds for the expulsion
  • the reasons for expulsion
  • any considerations in support of the expulsion including a comprehensive range of strategies which might have been employed to date
  • any considerations of the impact of behaviour of the student on other affected parties;
  • any representations made by the student or their relevant person
  • a summary of the options considered at the behaviour support and intervention meeting and why expulsion was considered necessary
  • details of the arrangements that have been made for the continuing education, training and/or employment of the student
  • recommendations on whether any further action either at the school, local, regional or system level is required, including strategies at the school level to prevent the repeat of similar circumstances.

The expulsion report and a copy of the notice of expulsion must be provided to the regional director, within one business day of the expulsion taking effect.

The principal should retain a copy of the expulsion report, notice of expulsion and all relevant communication. The expulsion must also be recorded in CASES21.

Supported transition

If a student is expelled it is essential important that a supported transition plan is promptly
developed and enacted. This is to ensure the student remains engaged in education and upholds the principle that no child will be excluded from the government school system.
In many cases, a transition to a new setting with the right support will enable the student to thrive.

The local area team and regional office will work with the principal to identify a new setting and implement a transition plan for the student.

This plan will:

  • build on discussions and options identified at the behaviour support and intervention meeting
  • reflect the needs and goals of the student and family
  • consider the student’s strengths and any insights from the school about the best educational options for the student.

Wherever possible, the transition plan will facilitate a placement in a new setting within a month.

Students of compulsory school age must be:

  • enrolled at a registered school
  • enrolled at a registered training organisation (RTO)
  • engaged with an employment agency or other organisation that provides services that support their future employment.

Students beyond compulsory school age and their parent must be provided with information about:

  • other schools or RTOs that may provide suitable opportunities for the student, or
  • employment agencies or other organisations that support engagement in employment.

The principal must establish a student absence learning plan and ensure that the school continues to provide the student with meaningful work until they have successfully transitioned to the identified setting. This may need to be monitored and updated and the designated teacher should offer support, as required.

The regional engagement coordinator and local area team will work with the new school setting for up to six months. They will ensure relevant interventions and supports for the student are in place and reviewed when necessary.

Documents

For principals or other school staff, see checklists and reporting templates