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Suspensions and Expulsions

If you are under 25 and you are unsure about your rights or responsibilities or what to do next, you can get free, confidential legal advice at Lawmail.

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 Western Australia. 

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. 


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

What can you be suspended for? 

You can be suspended for a: 

  • Breach of school discipline: this is any behaviour which badly affects the good order and running of the school;  
  • Serious breach of school discipline: this is behaviour which the school’s Code of Conduct defines as serious or behaviour which affects or threatens the safety of a person at the school.   

How long can you be suspended for ? 

  • You can be suspended by the Principal for a maximum of 5 days for a breach of school discipline;  or
  • You can be suspended by the Principal for a maximum of 10 days for a serious breach of school discipline;  or
  • You can be suspended for a maximum of 10 days if your behaviour is so serious that the Principal decides to make a recommendation to the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) that you be excluded from school; or
  • You can be suspended for as long as is authorised by the CEO if the Principal has recommended that you be excluded from school and the CEO is still making a decision. In this case you and your parents must be given a reasonable opportunity to show that the suspension should not continue. 

You can only be suspended until the end of the current term, unless the Principal has recommended that you be excluded from school and the CEO is still making a decision.  

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

Before the Principal can suspend you from school the Principal must tell you and your parents how long you are to be suspended and the reasons why you are being suspended. If you are being suspended for a serious breach of school discipline, the Principal must tell you this in writing.  

In all cases you must be given a reasonable opportunity to put your side of the story and to give your reasons why you should not be suspended.  

What must happen during your suspension? 

  • If your school needs to talk to your parents and plan for your return to school this must happen during your suspension. If it is considered necessary, a behaviour management plan must be set up for you before you go back to school. 
  • If you have been suspended for a total of 10 or more days in a year your school must talk with your parents about your behaviour.  
  • If you have been suspended for 20 days or more in a school year the school must arrange for the local District Education Office to become  involved to help deal with your behaviour.  
  • If you are suspended from school for 3 or more consecutive days or for a total of 5 or more school days in a school year you must be given school work to do while you are suspended. 

What if you disagree with the suspension?  

If you object to the decision to suspend you, your parents can ask for a review of the decision by the Manager, Operations at your local District Education Office. A review of the decision will not stop the suspension from happening or continuing while the review is taking place. The request for a review must be managed in accordance with the Department of Education’s Disputes and Complaints Policy.   


Exclusion is when you are removed from school permanently.  

What can you be excluded for?

You can be excluded from school at any age if:

  • You break the school rules in a way that badly affects; or threatens the safety of any person at the school; or
  • You break the school rules in a way that causes or is likely to cause damage to any property; or
  • Your behaviour disrupts other students who are trying to learn. 
How can you be excluded? 

If the Principal thinks that you should be excluded from school, the Principal must suspend you from school and recommend to the CEO that you be excluded. The Principal can give the CEO any information that is appropriate to assist the CEO in making a decision. 

The Principal must follow the procedures set out in the Behaviour Management in Schools policy before starting the exclusion process. You can have a look at this policy here

Where there is an isolated incident the Principal must document the accounts given by all the relevant parties including you and your witnesses.  Where the recommendation to exclude you is based on a continuing pattern of behaviour, the Principal must provide a written history of that behaviour.  

If the Principal makes a recommendation that you be excluded from school there are several different orders that the CEO can make. These are:
  • An order excluding you from normal attendance at your school but directing you to go there  for specific purposes; or
  • An order completely excluding you from going to your school; or
  • An order directing you to go to a  particular school or to take part in a particular educational programme; or
  • An order setting out the kind of education you are to be given; or
  • Any combination of those orders. 

If the CEO makes any one or more of these orders affecting you and your education, it can be for whatever time period the CEO  thinks appropriate.  The CEO can cancel or change the order at any time by making a new order. 

What process does the school have to follow if they are going to expel you? 

  • The Principal must notify you and your parents in writing if a recommendation to exclude you has been made to the CEO .  The Principal must give your parents the reasons why the recommendation was made. 
  • The Principal must give you and your parents a reasonable opportunity to respond to the recommendation and encourage you to provide any information that you think is relevant.  
  • Before making a decision the CEO may refer the Principal’s recommendation and other information to a School Disciplinary Advisory Panel. The Panel must be made up of at least 3 people and it must give each of you, your parents and the Principal the opportunity to give your sides of the story.  The Panel’s role is to consider your behaviour and the school’s efforts to help you change it and to ensure that all parties receive a fair hearing. The Principal’s letter must advise you that assistance will be available to you if required and that you have the right to have a support person at the meeting. 
  • The Principal must prepare a School Exclusion Report that will be provided to you, your parents, members of the School Disciplinary Advisory Panel and to the CEO.  This report should be provided at least 48 hours before the meeting is held. 
  • The CEO must arrange for the preparation of a Region Exclusion Report to be given to the Panel.  This report must give an overview of the Regional support provided to the school and to you and your parents and the effectiveness of that support. It must also advise  what other  support is available from the Regional office . 
  • The Panel must prepare a School Discipline Advisory Panel Report.  If all the members of the Panel don’t agree then minority views can be included in the Report. 

The recommended time limit for the Panel to prepare the Report and for the CEO  to make a decision  is 8 school days from when  the Principal made the recommendation to exclude you. The CEO does not have to agree with and follow the recommendations of the Panel and can take other advice before making a decision.   

Exclusion Order

If the CEO makes an order that you are to be excluded from school then a case manager must meet with you and your parents to discuss the order. The case manager will help you to enrol in another public school or educational program and provide information and support to your new Principal. The case manager must monitor and review your placement. 

Exclusion by the Principal 

If you are above compulsory school age the Principal can exclude you from school if: 
  • Your attendance at  school  is unsatisfactory; or
  • You are not  working hard enough to complete your learning programme; or 
  • Your behaviour doesn’t meet the expected standards for students at the school; or 
  • You don’t comply with any specific requirements which have been placed on you.
  • You are above the compulsory school age in the year after the year in which you turn 17 years and 6 months or after you turn 18, whichever happens first. 
Before making a decision to exclude you, the Principal must investigate your behaviour and make a written report which includes your side of the story and the accounts of relevant staff and students. You must be advised why the Principal is considering excluding you and be given every opportunity to object and to provide any information that you think is relevant. 

If the Principal decides to exclude you from school, you and your parents must be told of this decision in writing. The letter must tell you why you are being excluded and give details of other educational programs that are available and suitable for you. You must also be told that you have the right to request a review of the exclusion decision.  

If you are excluded from your school it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are prevented from enrolling in another school but you must be able to meet another school’s conditions of enrolment.  

What if you disagree with the exclusion?  

If you disagree with the decision made by your Principal you can write a letter to the CEO asking for a review of the decision. This review will only look at whether the right steps were followed by the Principal in making the decision.  

You need to put in the application within 7 days after you are given notice in writing of the decision to exclude you. However, the DET policy does state you can put in your application within 14 days.  
The CEO must give your case and all relevant information to a Student Discipline Advisory Panel. The Panel must make a recommendation to the CEO on how the case should be decided within 28 days of the CEO receiving your application for review.  
The CEO must decide whether to agree with the decision to exclude you, change the decision or make a new decision. Within 14 days of getting the report from the Student Advisory Panel the CEO must let you know the decision.  

Review by Minister 

You can ask the Minister for Education to review a decision to suspend or exclude you. The Minister doesn’t have to do anything, but may agree to look at your case.  If the Minister thinks that the rules weren’t followed or that they were not followed fairly or properly or that the decision maker wasn’t given all the necessary information, he or she might recommend that the person who made the decision look at it again. The Minister can recommend that certain procedures are to be followed and that particular information is to be provided. 

What if you think you have been discriminated against?

Click here for more information about discrimination at school. 

What will a suspension or exclusion mean for your future? 

Records will be kept about your suspension or exclusion.  However, only certain people who work for the Department of Education have access to information about your suspension or expulsion  - it is not public information. 

Where can I get more help and information?

You can contact Youth Legal Service in Perth.  You must make an appointment before going to see them. You can find their details here.

This page was last updated on 3 March 2015. 

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