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Suspensions and Expulsions

Northern 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 Northern Territory. If you attend a private, independent or Catholic school please send us a Lawmail with your question.  

Every Australian child has a right to education. This means your school cannot suspend or expel you without very good reasons and a clear process.  It also means your school must act fairly if they are planning on suspending or expelling you from school.  If you think you are being unfairly punished, you can appeal the decision. 


What is suspension?

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

What can you be suspended for? 

You can be suspended from school if your Principal is satisfied that your behaviour at school means you could be harmful to others at the school. Examples of such behaviour are:  

  • Being  very disrespectful to others; or
  • Repeatedly disobeying  teachers; or
  • Behaving immorally; or 
  • Seriously  breaching school discipline.

How long can you be suspended for?

You can be suspended for up to one month.  While you are suspended the school must continue to give you school work to make sure that you do not fall behind in your school work. 

How can you be suspended?   How does the process work?

The Principal must follow certain rules before suspending you. Your parents or guardians must be given an opportunity to speak to the school on your behalf.

The Principal must also:

  • give you a written Notice of Suspension 
  • give a copy of the Notice of Suspension to your parents and the CEO of NT Schools as soon as possible.
What must happen before you return to school? 

Before you return to school, someone from the school must: 

  • Organise a meeting with you and your parents to discuss your return; and
  • Let you know that they may place certain conditions on your return to school; and
  • Where possible,  ask your parents to  help set up  a program  to make it easier for  you to  settle back into school; and
  • Get teachers involved in the program that will help you settle back into school.  

What if you disagree with the suspension?  

Step 1: Discussion with your Principal

You and your parents can go to the Principal and ask them to review the suspension. In order to get the Principal to review the suspension, you have to be able to give evidence which was not available when the school first decided to suspend you. It’s up to the principal to then decide whether to cancel the suspension or change how long it’s for. They will decide this depending on whether you are genuinely sorry for what you have done, and have agreed with whatever the school proposes about how to change your behaviour in the future.  The Principal has to let you know what they decide in writing. 

Step 2: Contact your Regional Office or DET Complaints Line 

If you do not agree with the Principal’s decision after the review, you can contact the regional office for your school or call the Department of Education & Training Complaints Line as soon as possible.  
You can find the name and contact details of your regional office by typing in your school name here:


What is  expulsion?

Expulsion is when you are asked to leave school permanently.  What can you be expelled for?

Your Principal can recommend to the Head of Schools in Northern Territory that you be expelled if:  
  • You are involved in a single event that is very serious ;  or
  • You repeatedly behave in unacceptable ways that and continue to do so, even though your school has tried different ways to change your behaviour.  
How can you be expelled – how does the process work? 

Before you are expelled, your Principal must first suspend you for a maximum period of 1 month. This is so that the Principal has time to decide whether to recommend to the CEO that you should be expelled, and the CEO has time to make a decision. 

At the time you are suspended the Principal must tell you that he/she is thinking about recommending to the CEO that you should be expelled. The Principal must also tell your parents.  

Before making the decision your Principal must talk to the Director School Performance (DSP) about whether you should be expelled   and must write to you: 

  • Confirming that the Principal is thinking of  recommending your expulsion; and
  • Giving you the reasons why; and 
  • Providing copies of the documents that are being looked at; and
  • Inviting you to a meeting  within 3 days of the written notice to talk about your possible expulsion and allow you to give your side of the story; and
  • Inviting you to put your side of the story in writing to the Principal within 3 days. 

After hearing your side of the story your Principal must decide within 2 days whether to recommend that you be expelled.  Your Principal must then let you know the decision in writing straight away.  

If the Principal decides to recommend that you be expelled, in this letter the Principal must also let you know the reasons why. You must also be advised that you will be given a copy of the Principal’s recommendation and that you will be able to give your side of the story to the CEO before the CEO makes a decision.

The recommendation from the Principal to the CEO must include: 

  • A copy of the Notice of Suspension; and
  • The reasons for  recommending expulsion; and
  • Any documents the Principal looked at when deciding whether to make the  recommendation to expel you; and
  • Whether you have a medical or other important condition that means you have special needs; and
  • Details of the event and copies of all communication between you and the school;  and
  • Any evidence or documents that you gave to the school.
The recommendation must not include any information that the Principal has not already told or written to you or your parents. 
The recommendation will be reviewed by departmental officers before it is given to the CEO,  and before it is given to the CEO the Executive Director must: 
  • Write to you to let you know the recommendation  will be sent to the CEO; and
  • Give you a copy of the recommendation and supporting documents; and
  • Let you know that you can write to the CEO and  give the CEO any information that would help the CEO make a  decision; and
  • Let you know that you can meet with the CEO before a decision is made (providing that the CEO is able to).

You must be allowed at least 7 days to put your case to the CEO before a decision is made.   

After looking at all the evidence the CEO will then decide whether you should be expelled. The CEO will let you know of the decision in writing, including the reasons for the decision.

The CEO must reach a decision and advise you of that decision before the end of your suspension period. 

If I am expelled, can I go to another school? 

If you have been expelled, you cannot join another government school unless: 
  • You have permission from the Minister; or
  • The school is a distance education centre. 

Click here for more information about discrimination at school. 


Information held by the Education Department about your suspension or expulsion is not public information. It can only be shown to others if you give permission.  

For more information

You can read the Department of Education’s policies on suspension and expulsion here.  


If you have more questions about suspensions of expulsions, please send us a Lawmail

The content on this page was last updated 2 March 2015.

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