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Suspensions and Expulsions

Australian Capital Territory

The rules on suspensions and expulsions are different depending on whether you go to a public government school or a private school.     This page only applies if you go to a public school in the ACT.


Suspensions

What is suspension?

Suspension is when the school asks you to leave school for a short time.


What can I be suspended for?

You can be suspended if:

  • You continually and intentionally do not obey teachers; or
  • You are violent or threaten violence to another student at the school or someone who works at the school; or
  • You act in a way that threatens the good order of the school, the safety of another student at the school or anyone who works at the school; or
  • Your behaviour makes it difficult for you or other students to learn. 

How long can I be suspended for?

Generally you can only be suspended for up to 15 days.    But in special circumstances, the  Principal can ask the CEO of ACT Schools if it can be extended to 20 days.   

What process does the school have to follow to suspend me?  

Before any decision is made to transfer you, the school has to follow a set process:
  • Someone from the school must speak to your parents about the transfer and your parents must be told in writing that you may be transferred and  the reasons why; 
  • You must be given the opportunity to give your side of the story;  and
  • You must be given enough information about the process so you understand what is happening and why; and
  • You and your parents must be given a copy of your suspension record, suspension letter and a challenge guide within 24 hours of  your parents being told about the decision to suspend you; and
  • You must be told that you have the right to challenge the decision. 

In extreme cases, you can be suspended immediately for up to five days if the Director-General thinks that the situation is very serious and this can be up to 5 days.  Even if you are given an immediate suspension, the Director-General should try to follow the usual rules where possible.  

When does your suspension start?  

If you left the school before or during lunchtime, the first day of your suspension is the day you left school.  If you leave after lunch or at the end of the school day your suspension starts the next day. 

Does the school have to give me support while I am suspended?

If you are suspended for 7 or more school days in a school term you must be offered counselling. The school also has to give you work to complete while you are suspended.  

What about going back to school after my suspension?

When you return to school, the school must meet with you and your parents to make a plan to help you return to school.  

What if I disagree with a suspension?

If you think a suspension is unfair, your parents can appeal this decision. This has to be done within 28 days of the receiving the Director’s decision to suspend you.          
If you’ve been suspended for 15 days, you can appeal the decision by filling in this form here (the form is the last page of the document). You must also include a copy of your suspension notice and any other documents you think are important and send it to the address on the form. 

Transfers


What is a transfer?
A transfer is when you are sent to another public school in the ACT.  

What can I be transferred for?

You can be  transferred if:

  • You continually and intentionally do not obey teachers; or
  • You are violent or threaten violence to another student at the school or someone who works at the school; or
  • You act in a way that threatens the good order of the school, the safety of another student at the school or anyone who works at the school; or
  • Your behaviour makes it difficult for you or other students to learn. 
  • You will generally only be transferred if the school has repeatedly tried to support you to participate in school but has been unsuccessful.  You can also be transferred after a very serious incident where it would unreasonable for you to go back to the same school.    

How does the process work?

The way it works is that the Principal recommends to the Director of Schools that you should be transferred.  The Director has five days to decide and will let you and your parents know about what he or she has decided.   

But, before any decision is made to transfer you, the school has to follow a set process:

  • Someone from the school must speak to your parents about the transfer and your parents must be told in writing that you may be transferred and  the reasons why; 
  • You must be given the opportunity to give your side of the story;  and
  • You must be given enough information about the process so you understand what is happening and why; and
  • You have been given a reasonable way to continue your education.    

What can I do if I disagree with a transfer?

If you think a transfer is unfair, your parents can appeal this decision. This has to be done within 28 days of the receiving the Director’s decision to transfer you.


Exclusion (sometimes called expulsion)

What is an expulsion?

An expulsion is when you are banned from going to your school or any other public school in the ACT.  

What can I be expelled for?

You can be suspended if:

  • You continually and intentionally do not obey teachers; or
  • You are violent or threaten violence to another student at the school or someone who works at the school; or
  • You act in a way that threatens the good order of the school, the safety of another student at the school or anyone who works at the school; or
  • Your behaviour makes it difficult for you or other students to learn. 
You are normally only excluded as a last resort if your behaviour poses a threat to the health and safety of other students and teachers.  

What process does the school have to follow to expel/exclude me?  

  • You must have been offered counselling or relevant educational programs or other assistance for your problems;  
  • Someone from the school must speak to your parents about the transfer and your parents must be told in writing that you may be transferred and  the reasons why; 
  • You must be given the opportunity to give your side of the story;  and
  • You must be given enough information about the process so you understand what is happening and why; and
  • You have been give other options for continuing your education 
  • The Director of ACT schools will make a decision about your exclusion within 10 working days after receiving your Principal’s recommendation ; and
  • The Director of ACT schools must let you your parents and the Principal know of the decision  and that you have a right to challenge it. 
You can also be suspended for up to 20 days while the Director of ACT schools decides whether or not to exclude you.    

What can I do if I disagree with the decision to exclude me from school?

If you have been excluded unfairly or you think your school or the Director haven’t followed the rules properly, you can appeal the decision to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.  This has to be done with 28 days of being told about your exclusion.   

To put in an application you  need to complete the Application to Review Decision form.  You will also need to pay a filing fee.

It is against the law in ACT to discriminate in education. If you feel like you are being discriminated against because of your race, gender, religion, ethnicity or other characteristic, please send us a Lawmail with more information.

What will a suspension, transfer or exclusion mean for my future? 

The Department of Education must record information about student’s enrolment and attendance,  and this could include information about any suspensions, transfers or exclusions.  You and your parents have access to your student records.  This means people like future employers usually will not have access to your student records unless you give the school permission to give them out.

Where can I get more information? 

If you have been suspended, transferred or excluded from school you should get independent advice about your rights as soon as possible. You need to act quickly to ensure that you minimise as much as possible any disruption or break in your education. 

Legal Aid ACT has a free legal service dedicated to young people. It is called Youth Law Centre and it provides free advice in person, on the phone or by email. If the Youth Law Centre is unable to assist you, it can refer you to other legal services and youth organisations.

The Youth Law Centre provides advice to people aged between 12 and 25 years of age and is open from Monday to Friday from 12 – 4 pm.  

Address:
Level 1, 14 Childers Street
(Cnr Childers Street and University Avenue)
Canberra City, ACT
Ph: (02) 6173 5410

This page was last updated on 3 March 2015.  

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