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Suspensions and Expulsions

South Australia

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 South Australia. 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. When deciding whether to suspend, exclude or expel you, your school must take into account lots of things, including:
  • How serious your behaviour was; and 
  • How often you behaved badly; and
  • How you behaved in the past and how you responded in the past to school discipline. 


Suspension

Suspension is when the school asks you to leave school for a short time up to 5 days.

What can you be suspended for? 

The head teacher of your school may suspend you if the head teacher believes that: 
  • You have been violent or threatened violence; or
  • Your behaviour threatens the safety or well-being of a student, a staff member or other person associated with the school;  or
  • You have done something illegal; or
  • You make it hard for teachers to teach other students and yourself; or
  • Your behaviour threatens the running of the school because you continually break school rules; or
  • You continually and purposely don’t pay attention to or show you don’t care about school work. 

How long can you be suspended ?

You can be suspended for up to 5 days.   

What happens during a suspension? 

While you are suspended, the school should hold a meeting called a “conference”  between you, your parents and someone from the school (usually the principal or another teacher).If you have a short suspension, the meeting might be after the suspension is over, but it should still happen.   

At the conference, everyone will try to agree a student development plan.  This is a plan to work out how you can improve your behaviour, who can help you along the way, and what happens if you don’t follow the plan. 

If you go to school or stay at school after you have been suspended, excluded or expelled, without written permission from the head teacher, you may have to pay a fine of up to $200.  

What if you disagree with the suspension? 

Unfortunately you can’t appeal a suspension in South Australia. You have no right to appeal a decision by the head teacher to suspend you. But you can discuss whether you think the suspension is fair when you meet for the suspension conference. If you still think the suspension was unfair and don’t resolve it in the conference, you can make a complaint to the District Director of Education. You can find your local Director’s contact details here.

Exclusion

Exclusion is when you are not allowed to go to school for anywhere between 4-10 weeks.  

What can you be excluded for?

You can be excluded from school by the head teacher of your school if: 
  • You have been violent or threatened violence; or
  • Your behaviour threatens the safety or wellbeing of a student, staff member or other person associated with the school;  or
  • You have done something illegal; or
  • You make it hard for teachers to teach other students and yourself; or
  • Your behaviour threatens the running of the school because you continually break school rules.

How long can you be excluded?

You can be excluded for anywhere between 4 and 10 school weeks.   While you can be excluded on multiple occasions, you can’t usually be excluded for more than 20 weeks in one year unless there are very special reasons.  

What process does the school have to follow to exclude you?

Your head teacher must give you a notice which tells you that the head teacher intends to exclude you from school and that you are suspended up to 5 school days.  
  • During the 5 days, there will be a conference held between you, your parents and the school. 
  • After the conference, the head teacher will decide whether or not to exclude you from school. If you are not to be excluded, you can return to school at the end of your suspension. 

If the head teacher decides to exclude you:  

  • Behaviour and learning goals will be set for you and the school will decide how long you are going to excluded from school; and
  • You must be told how you can appeal against your exclusion from school and given the “Notice of Intention to Exclude from School”; and 
  • If you are under 16, the school must make arrangements for you to continue your learning;  
  • Another conference will be arranged for a future date and at this conference it will be decided whether you have reached your goals and can return to school. 

If you haven’t reached your goals, the exclusion may be made longer. 

What must you do during your exclusion?

During your exclusion you must follow the reasonable written directions from the education department to do school work, work or any other relevant activity.  If you do not follow these directions you will may have to pay a fine of up to $200.  

Also, if you go to school or stay at school after you have been suspended, excluded or expelled, without written permission from the head teacher, you may have to pay a fine of up to $200.  

What can you do if you disagree with an exclusion?

You can appeal an exclusion but you have to do this within 5 days after you are told that you will be excluded. You should find out how at the conference that is held before your exclusion starts. Generally the way to appeal is to contact the Regional Director of Education for your district. You can find your local Director’s contact details here.

You can also send us a Lawmail and we can give you more advice. 

Expulsion

Expulsion can only happen if you are 16 years or older. Exclusion is when you are asked to leave school for a long time of at least 6 months but could be as long as 18 months. You can be expelled only from your school or from all government schools and you can be asked to leave school for at least 6 months up to a maximum of 5 years. 

A) Expulsion from a particular school

What can you be expelled for? 

If you are above compulsory school age, the head teacher can expel you from your school if: 
  • You have been violent or threatened violence; or
  • Your behaviour threatens the safety or wellbeing of a student, staff member or other person associated with the school; or 
  • You have done something illegal; or
  • You continually make it hard for teachers to teach you and other students.

If you go to school or stay at school after you have been suspended, excluded or expelled, without written permission from the head teacher, you may have to pay a fine of up to $200.

How long can you be expelled?

You can be expelled for:
  • At least 6 straight months or for the remainder of the school semester which may be less than 6 straight months;  and
  • A maximum of 18 months (or even 5 years in some cases). 

What must happen before you can be expelled?

The head teacher must first suspend you from school for a maximum of 20 straight school days,  while it is being decided whether or not to expel you. Before expelling you, the head teacher must arrange for you to go to an alternative school. 

You must be told about your right to appeal against your expulsion and be given the “Notice of Recommendation for Expulsion.”  

B) Expulsion from all schools 

What can you be expelled for?

If you are above 16, you can be expelled from going to any public school in South Australia if: 

  • You have been violent or threatened violence; or
  • Your behaviour threatens the safety or wellbeing of a student , staff member or other person associated with the school; or 
  • You have done something illegal.

If you go to school or stay at school after you have been suspended, excluded or expelled, without written permission from the head teacher, you may have to pay a fine of up to $200. 

How long can you be expelled?

You can be expelled for a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 5 years.  However if the expulsion is for the remainder of the school year, you may be expelled for less than 1 year.  

What must happen before your expulsion? 

Before the head teacher makes the recommendation to the Director-General that you be expelled from all schools, the head teacher must suspend you from school for a period which cannot be more than 30 straight school days.  

You must be told that you have the right to appeal against your expulsion, and must be given the “Notice of Recommendation for Expulsion”.  

Can I appeal if I am expelled?

Yes.  You can appeal a decision to expel you to expel you by writing to the Director General, but you have to do this within 10 days after you are told that you will be expelled! You can find out more information about how to challenge the decision in the notice of expulsion that was given to you.  You can also send us a Lawmail and we can give you more advice. 

What if you think you have been discriminated against?

Click here for more information about discrimination at school. 

What will a suspension, exclusion or expulsion mean for your future? 

A suspension or exclusion will be put on your student record. Your student record is not a public document and information cannot be disclosed from it without your consent.  

For more information

If you have been suspended, excluded or expelled from school you should get 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. You can: 

1. Send us a Lawmail 
2. Speak to a lawyer in person

Children’s and Youth Legal Service of South Australia provides legal advice, assistance, representation and referral on legal and non-legal matters to children and young people under 18 in South Australia.

Address: Unit 2/59 Main North Road, Medindie Gardens, SA 5081
Ph: (08) 8342 1800

 

If you have a question that we haven't answered here please send us a Lawmail. 


This page was last updated on 3 March 2015. 

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