Suspension and expulsion from a public school

What does it mean if your child is suspended or expelled from a NSW public school, and what happens next?

The Student Discipline policy and subsequent Suspension procedures are currently under review.

When does supension and expulsion occur?

There will be cases of unacceptable behaviour where it will be in the best interests of the school community and/or the child involved, for the child to be removed from the school for a period of time or completely. Suspension and expulsion are the options available to the principal in these situations.

The decision

School principals have the authority to suspend or expel your child in accordance with detailed guidelines and procedures.

Among other things they must ensure their decision is fair and impartial, and does not discriminate against your child on the grounds of:

  • race
  • age
  • gender or transgender
  • sexuality
  • marital status
  • disability
  • HIV/AIDs status.

Your child is entitled to an opportunity to both understand and respond to any allegations against them, and will not be sent out before the end of the school day without notification to you (the parent or carer) and, if necessary, making an agreement or agreements for collection.

Behaviours that lead to suspension or expulsion

All students and staff in NSW public schools have the right to be treated fairly and and with dignity in an environment free from disruption, intimidation, harassment and discrimination.

Principals may suspend your child when their behaviour violates this right, and when other efforts to address it within the school have been unsuccessful.

Such behaviour may occur either:

  • at school
  • on the way to or front school
  • at school-endorsed learning activities
  • on social networking sites, mobile phones or other devices (where other students or staff are affected).

Immediate suspension

Grounds for immediate suspension include:

  • physical violence
  • possession of a prohibited weapon
  • possession of suspected or illegal restricted drugs.


Principals may impose either a short or long suspension depending on the circumstances.

Short suspension may last for up to 4 school days and will be imposed for behaviour falling into one of two categories:

  • continued disobedience
  • aggressive behaviour.

Long suspension may last up to 20 school days and is imposed for behaviour in the following categories:

  • physical violence
  • possession of a gun, knife or prohibited weapon
  • use of any object as a weapon
  • possession of illegal or restricted drugs
  • serious criminal behaviour related to the school
  • persistent or serious misbehaviour.

What happens next?

Suspension allows time for staff to implement measures that will assist with successful re-entry to the school and ensure the safety of students and staff. In the majority of cases, it also gives your child a chance to reflect, accept responsibility and begin changing their behaviour.

The aim is for your child to return as quickly as possible and schools will work with you and your child to bring that about.

In the meantime, your child may continue their education in any special programs, subject to negotiation between their school principal and the principal of the special program. This include programs in:

  • tutorial centres
  • suspension centres
  • behaviour schools
  • hospital schools.

Resolution meeting

After suspension has occurred, the principal will convene a meeting with parents or carers and relevant staff to discuss the basis on which it will be resolved and your child returned to school. Any recommendations from the school counsellor or learning and support team will also be discussed.


Serious misbehaviour

In cases of serious misbehaviour, principals may decide to permanently expel a student. This will usually occur after a period of long suspension.

Where possible, the principal will arrange for an alternative educational placement. In some cases a risk assessment of violent behaviour may be necessary to identify where this might be.

If a suitable alternative cannot be arrnaged, the principal will refer the issue to the Director, Public Schools NSW who may consider the following options:

  • re-admittance to school, subject to strict disciplinary arrangements
  • enrolment in another school, subject to resolution of any issues identified by risk assessment
  • placement in a alternative education setting
  • enrolment in TAFE
  • participation in other education or training
  • enrolment in distance education.

Unsatisfactory participation

Principals may also expel a student aged 17 or older for unsatisfactory participation in learning. If your child is expelled for this reason, they'll get at least one formal warning before this occurs as well as the opportunity to respond when expulsion is being considered. However, if this happens it is yours and your child's responsibility to find an alternative educational placement.

Advice for parents and carers and their children in this situation is available for their local Department of Education and Communities office.

Reviews and appeals

A Director, Public Schools NSW or Executive Director, Public Schools NSW may review any aspect of the implementation of the procedures for suspension and expulsion at any time, usually through a systemic process of monitoring or trend analysis.

You or your child may appeal if you think the decision is unfair or that correct procedures haven't been followed.

Further information:

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