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Suspensions and Expulsions

Tasmania

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 Tasmania. 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, exclusion, expulsion or prohibition?

Suspension is when the school asks you to leave school for a short time (less than 10 days). Exclusion is when you are asked to leave school for a long time (more than two weeks). Expulsion is when you are removed permanently from your school and prohibition is when you are removed permanently from all government schools – this means you can’t enrol in another government school in Tasmania. 

 

Suspension

How long can you be suspended for?

You can be suspended for up to 2 weeks.  

What can you be suspended for?

You can be suspended for behaviour which:  
  • Shows you are not taking part in learning; or
  • Shows you don’t obey the rules about how you should behave; or
  • Is likely to badly affect the learning of other students ; or
  • Causes or is likely to cause damage; or
  • May cause harm to other students or staff; or
  • May give the school a bad reputation; or
  • Any other behaviour that the Principal decides is not appropriate taking into account the school’s discipline policy.

What process does the school have to follow if they want to suspend me?

The Principal must write a letter to your parents explain why you have been suspended, how long for, and asking that you, your parents and the school come for a meeting about the situation. 

The aim of the meeting is for the school to explain their decision and say why your behaviour is unacceptable to them.  In the meeting you will also discuss a plan for coming back to school and how you should behave in the future.     

What if you disagree with the suspension?

Unfortunately you can't appeal a suspension and get it cancelled.     But if you think your school has treated you unfairly, followed the rules, you can make a complaint to the Department of Education. Remember, this won't cancel the suspension, but you will be able to let someone know about your situation. 

Exclusion

Exclusion is when you are not allowed to come to school for at least 2 weeks and could be as long as a whole school term. Exclusion, like suspension, is supposed to be part of a plan to try and change your behaviour so that you don’t continue to cause problems at school.  
The Principal does not have the authority to exclude you from school but the Principal can recommend to the Learning Services General Manager that you be excluded. 

What can you be excluded for?

You can be excluded for the same things as suspension (see suspension section above), but your school can only try and exclude you if a suspension of two weeks isn’t enough to deal with the behaviour. 

How can you be excluded?  

If your Principal decides that you should be excluded from school, the Principal must first suspend you for 2 weeks and follow the same procedures as if you were being suspended (see our section above on Suspensions). This means the school should send your parents a letter explaining why you have been suspended and why they plan on excluding you, and what you can do to appeal the decision.   

Within 2 weeks after your suspension, the Department should send you a letter letting you know if you have been excluded or not. If you haven’t been excluded ,then you can go back to school at the end of your suspension.   

What must happen during your exclusion? 

The Department of Education will reasonable make plans for you to continue your education while you are excluded from school.  

During the final week of your exclusion the Principal must organise an interview with you and your parents to discuss your return to school.   

What if you disagree with the exclusion? 

If you think that you have been wrongly excluded you can ask for the decision to be reviewed.   

To do this you must fill in this form: 

The Department of Education will let you, your parents and your Principal know the result of the review in writing within 5 school days of when they receive your application for review. You can also appeal against the exclusion process through the Ombudsman. If you want more information about this, please send us a Lawmail

Expulsion

If your Principal considers that your behaviour is so bad that exclusion from school for up to 1 term will not be enough, you may be expelled from your school forever. If you are expelled you no longer have the right to go to the school you have been expelled from. 

What can you be expelled for? 

You can be expelled for the same things as suspension (see suspension section above), but your school can only try and expel you if a suspension of two weeks isn’t enough to deal with the behaviour. 

How can you be expelled? 

The Principal can recommend that you be expelled but does not have the authority to expel you from school. The person who decides whether you are expelled is the General Manager of Learning Services in the Department of Education. The way the process works is:
  • The Principal must first suspend you for up to 2 weeks.  
  • The Principal must write to your parents saying that you have been suspended and he/she recommends you be expelled.  The letter should also include information on how to appeal the decision, and what your parents can do   
  • The General Manager looks at the Principal’s recommendation, talks to you and your parents and meets with people to talk about your possible expulsion
  • The General Manager then decides whether should stay at your school, be expelled from your school, be enrolled in another school, be banned from any state school, or do distance education.   
Once The General Manager of Learning Services has made a decision about whether or not to expel you, your parents  must be told in a letter.  

What if you disagree with the expulsion? 

If you think you have been wrongly expelled you can ask for the decision to be reviewed or changed.  

To apply for a review of the decision you or your parents must send a form to the Department of Education: 

The Secretary will let you, your parents and your Principal know the result of the review in writing within 10 school days of when the Secretary receives your application for review.  

You can also appeal against the expulsion process through the Ombudsman. If you would like more information about this option, please send us a Lawmail.  

Can you be refused entry by a school because you were expelled from another school?  

Expulsion from one school doesn’t prevent your enrolment in another Tasmanian government school.  You will be continued to be enrolled at your old school until a new school is found. 

Prohibition

Prohibition is used as a last resort after everything else has been tried to deal with your behaviour.  If you are prohibited, it means that you can never go to any government school in Tasmania again.      

The Principal can recommend that you be prohibited from attending all government schools but does not have the authority to prohibit you.   

What can you be prohibited for?  

You can be prohibited:
  • If your behaviour  creates an ongoing and extreme risk to the safety of students and staff at  school; or
  • If you have acted illegally or have been guilty of a serious crime; or
  • If you are violent or could be violent. 

You can be prohibited if your most recent behaviour was very serious and you have a record of bad behaviour in the past  which your school has been unsuccessful  in trying to change, even after getting your parents involved.  

What must happen before your prohibition? 

If your Principal has decided that you should be prohibited from all government schools, the Principal should first suspend you for 2 weeks.  
The Principal must write to your parents and the letter should: 
  • Advise that you have been suspended from school and for how long; and
  • Advise that it will be recommended that you be prohibited  from all government schools; and 
  • Give information on how the decision will be made and how you can appeal or review the decision; and
  • Include  the rights and responsibilities your parents have; and
  • Ask for a meeting with your parents to talk about what could happen next and the reasons for recommending prohibition. 

What happens next?  

The Learning Services General Manager must investigate the recommendation and may talk to your Principal, you and your parents and also teachers and other people working at the school. The Learning Services General Manager must then give a report to the Secretary of the Department of Education.  

The Secretary must decide whether you should stay at your school, go to another school or be prohibited from all schools. Your parents must be advised of the decision in a letter. A copy of this letter must also be sent to the Learning Services General Manager and your Principal.   

What if you disagree with the prohibition? 

If you think you have been wrongly prohibited you can ask for the decision to be reviewed.  

To apply for a review of the decision you (or your parents) must send a form to the Secretary of the Department of Education. 

The Secretary will let you, your parents and your Principal know the result of the review in writing within 10 school days of when the Secretary receives your application for review. You can also appeal against the prohibition process through the Ombudsman.  

 

What if you think you have been discriminated against? 

Click here for more information about discrimination at school.

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

You can access any personal information held by the Department of Education about you, but this information is not available to the general public.   

Get help and more information

If you have been suspended, excluded, expelled or prohibited 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. 
Please send us a Lawmail as soon as you find out that you might be expelled, excluded or given a prohibition.  

Finally, if you are finding that being out of school is very difficult and stressful and you are feeling a bit down you can call Kids Helpline or check them out here: kidshelpline.com.au/teens/ The Helpline is free and you don’t have to tell them who you are.   You can also call them for free on 1800 55 1800.   

 

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


This page was last updated 4 March 2015.

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