Suspension and expulsion procedures

Direction and guidance on the requirements for the suspension and expulsion of students in NSW public schools.

Audience and applicability

All NSW public schools (excluding preschools).

Student behaviour includes behaviour that occurs:

  • at school
  • on the way to and from school
  • on school-endorsed activities that are off-site
  • outside school hours and off school premises where there is a clear and close connection between the school and students’ conduct
  • when using social media, mobile devices and/or other technology involving another student or staff member, where there is a clear and close connection between the school and students’ conduct.


Version Date Description of changes Approved by
3.0.0 30/01/2024 Under the 2023 Policy and procedure review program, document retitled to ‘Suspension and Expulsion Procedures’ and updated and strengthened to help schools implement the updated policy. This includes changes to the grounds for suspension, removal of the maximum number of suspensions, the re-introduction of immediate suspensions and clarification for principals around their authority to make suspension decisions in schools. Deputy Secretary, Learning Improvement

Document history

2023 Sep 12 - Repaired broken links

2022 Oct 10 - Document retitled to ‘Student Behaviour Procedures Kindergarten to Year 12’ and updated and strengthened to help schools implement the updated policy. This includes changes to the grounds, duration and maximum number of suspensions across a calendar year, the introduction of suspension extensions and formal cautions prior to suspensions and removal of immediate suspensions.

2019 Aug 22 - Updated contact details

2017 - New version number applied

2015 - Updated

2011 - Updated

2007 - Suspension and Expulsion of School Students Procedures published

About the policy

These procedures specifically relate to sections 1.5.2, 1.5.3 and 1.5.4 of the Student behaviour policy.

Term Definition
Behaviour of concern

A behaviour of concern is challenging, complex or unsafe behaviour that requires more persistent and intensive interventions.

A behaviour of concern does not include low-level, developmentally appropriate behaviour.

Bullying

Bullying behaviour involves the intentional misuse of power in a relationship, is ongoing and repeated and involves behaviour that can cause harm.

Detention

Detention and/or reflection is a disciplinary consequence that schools may use to address inappropriate student behaviour. Detention and reflection are applied as close as possible to the breach in behaviour. It allows the school to provide timely support to students to assist them to achieve the desired behaviour, to reflect on their behaviour and make positive choices. The student is always supervised by a staff member.

Procedural fairness

Procedural fairness, also known as natural justice, is generally recognised as having two elements.

The right to be heard, which includes:

  • the right to know the purpose of the particular decision-making process and the consequences that flow from it
  • the right to know the way in which the issues will be determined
  • the right to be fully informed of the allegations and of any other information that will be taken into account in making a decision
  • the right to have a reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations and any other information that will be taken into account in making a decision
  • the right to an appeal.

The right of a person to an impartial decision, which includes:

Sexualised behaviour

Sexual behaviours expressed by children and young people under the age of 18 years that fall outside the range of typical (or ‘normal’) activity for a child’s age and stage of development, may be developmentally inappropriate, harmful towards self or others, or be abusive towards another child, young person or adult.

Support person

A support person provides comfort, emotional support and may assist in taking of notes, provision of advice on rights, suggesting a temporary pause in a meeting or suggesting seeking further advice.

The role of a support person is not to act as an advocate for the student or their parents or carers, or to become actively involved in any discussion that may take place.

See Legal Issues Bulletin 33 Difficult interviews and related issues.

Time-out

Teacher-directed time-out is a de-escalation strategy and occurs where a student is directed away from an educational activity or setting when they engage in behaviours of concern. It is used after other de-escalation strategies and teaching practices have been tried.

Self-directed time-out enables a student to remove themselves from a situation or environment causing stress. It is a planned informal behaviour support strategy that may be used as part of a behaviour support response and documented as an agreed strategy.

Unfair decision

This relates to acting fairly in administrative decision-making (see section 5 Appeals). A decision can be considered unfair if it was harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

Public Schools division, including Directors, Educational Leadership and Delivery Support:

  • provide proactive and responsive specialist advice and support for schools
  • ensure schools have access to quality assured professional learning
  • monitor policy implementation and support provision.

Principals:

  • lead the school community in developing and successfully implementing the school behaviour support and management plan and facilitate its annual review
  • promote whole-of-school positive student behaviour approaches and inform staff, including new and casual staff, about their responsibilities
  • provide teachers and other school staff with support and professional development regarding positive behaviour management approaches and behaviour interventions
  • implement these procedures in consultation with school staff, students, and parents or carers, including determining appropriate behaviour support and management interventions, where necessary
  • collect and retain information on student behaviour, including actions taken to support and manage individual student behaviour, support strategies implemented and/or reasonable adjustments required (with support from school staff)
  • monitor school-level data and information to identify patterns of student behaviour, including bullying behaviour, and initiate school action to respond (with support from school staff).

School executive, teachers, school learning support teams and school support staff:

  • proactively manage student behaviour by accessing school and system supports for the school and/or student, as early as possible
  • promote and model inclusive, respectful and culturally responsive school practices
  • promote school culture where bullying is not acceptable, and teach students to identify, report and respond to bullying at school and online
  • respond to and report any instances of (unacceptable) student behaviour
  • support parents or carers and students to understand expectations and possible strategies to support positive behaviour and prevent, reduce or address behaviour/s of concern
  • participate in professional training and development on the implementation of these procedures.

Parents or carers:

  • work in partnership with the school to support their child to behave positively and respectfully, and in resolving issues about their child’s behaviour, communicate with school staff and the school community respectfully and collaboratively as consistent with the School Community Charter.

Students:

1. Decision to issue a formal caution

To maintain high standards of student behaviour, schools should communicate regularly to the school community the expectations articulated in the department’s Behaviour code for students and the school behaviour support and management plan.

There may be circumstances where an individual student’s behaviour is of such concern that formal communication with parents or carers will be required.

If such behaviour persists, the principal can issue a formal caution of suspension, in writing, to the parents or carers.

The purpose of the formal caution is for the student and their parents or carers to understand the impact of the student’s behaviour or behaviours of concern and to engage them in positive behaviour supports and strategies.

A formal caution is valid for up to 50 school days from the date the caution is issued. Formal cautions should not be carried over into the next calendar year unless consultation has occurred with the Director, Educational Leadership.

There will be circumstances where a principal may determine that a student must be suspended without first issuing a formal caution to suspend due to immediate and significant risks to students or staff, or unacceptable risks posed to teaching and learning, that cannot be mitigated with the student at school. (See section 2.1 Grounds for suspension).

A formal caution to suspend must:

  • be in writing, via email or post, on school letterhead
  • be provided to the student and their parents or carers
  • outline the behaviour/s of concern
  • provide clear behavioural expectations for the student consistent with the Behaviour code for students
  • clearly outline the timeframe/expiry date for the formal caution
  • highlight the importance of parents or carers in working with the school when managing student behaviour
  • provide parents or carers the opportunity to meet with appropriate school staff and a key contact
  • advise that the student and parent or carer has the right to a support person in any meeting with the school
  • outline the positive behaviour support and strategies in place as a result of the unacceptable behaviour
  • indicate if the caution applies to more than one educational setting
  • be documented on the department’s in-house data system or approved third-party system.

For students attending special programs such as those offered by tutorial centres, behaviour schools and hospital schools that may involve attending their home school for part of the week, formal cautions automatically apply to both settings. If warranted, this can be negotiated between the principal of the home school and the principal supervising the special program and should occur as soon as possible before a formal caution is issued.

2. Suspension

There will be cases of unacceptable behaviour where a student may need to be removed from the school for a period of time. Suspension is an action available to the principal in these situations.

The purpose of the suspension is to allow the school to implement appropriate supports during the student’s absence to address the student’s complex and challenging behaviour or behaviours. This is to ensure a successful return to school, and mitigate any unacceptable risks posed to teaching and learning, and the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and/or students.

2.1 Grounds for suspension

Principals can use suspension as a behaviour management intervention when a behaviour or behaviours of concern pose an unacceptable risk to others or to teaching and learning. When assessing grounds for suspension, principals should consider the diverse learning and wellbeing needs of students, including developmental age, trauma, child protection concerns, cultural considerations, disability and individual needs and circumstances.

Principals can suspend a student engaging in behaviour or behaviours of concern on grounds that could include but are not limited to:

  • continued/persistent disobedience and/or disruptive behaviour
  • malicious damage to or theft of property
  • verbal abuse
  • bullying and cyberbullying
  • misuse of technology
  • discrimination, including that based on sex, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Due to the immediate and/or significant risk of harm to students or staff, it is important principals consider issuing an immediate suspension to any student who engages in serious behaviour or behaviours of concern that could include but are not limited to:

  • being in possession of, uses or supplies tobacco, vaping devices, alcohol and e-cigarettes
  • being in possession of, uses or supplies a suspected illegal/restricted substance
  • being in possession of, or using weapons including knives (excluding Kirpans, in line with guidance set out in Legal Issues Bulletin 22 – Knives in schools) and firearms
  • using an implement as a weapon
  • seriously threatening or engaging in physically violent behaviour
  • engaging in serious criminal behaviour related to the school
  • engaging in sexual harassment, sexual assault or other sexualised behaviour that may pose a risk of or has caused physical, psychological or emotional harm to others. See definition.

2.2 Steps in the suspension procedures

The principal or the relieving/acting principal makes the decision for proceeding with a suspension. The principal’s decision to proceed or not proceed with a suspension will be based on information gathered including, but not limited to:

  • considering the cause and impact of the behaviour
  • considering whether possible and appropriate alternative behaviour support management and intervention strategies have been implemented or attempted, including reasonable adjustments for students with disability
  • considering student factors such as the developmental age, trauma, child protection concerns and cultural considerations, disability and individual needs and circumstances
  • reviewing information including, but not limited to, written reports from staff, school data and other witness statements
  • providing the student who has, or is alleged to have, engaged in the behaviour/s of concern with the opportunity to respond.

In line with duty of care obligations, the principal’s decision to suspend can be made irrespective of any action by another agency, including NSW Police or the Department of Communities and Justice. This is to mitigate any unacceptable risks posed to teaching and learning, and the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and/or students.

The principal must decide the duration of the suspension with consideration of appropriate time to implement supports for the student and/or put in place appropriate safety measures (See section 2.3 Duration of a suspension).

Suspensions may be carried over into the next calendar year if the behaviour warrants it, in consultation with the Director, Educational Leadership.

Once the principal has formalised the details of the suspension they must:

  • immediately notify, or record attempts to notify, the parent or carer verbally, where possible, or within 24 hours
  • advise the student verbally, where appropriate
  • provide formal written notification, via email or post, on school letterhead to the parent or carer
  • advise the principal of the other setting if a student has a shared enrolment and/or attends more than one setting.

Where possible, school counselling service staff should also be informed and be available to provide counselling support for the student during the suspension, with the permission of the principal at a pre-arranged time.

If a suspension is extended or, in the case of multiple suspensions, the principal may determine a report from the school counselling service staff or other relevant staff member is required to support the student’s successful return to school.

Where possible, and with student and parent or carer permission, the principal should consider advising relevant external agencies with which the student already has contact.

The principal cannot release the student from school before the end of the school day, without having notified the parents or carers and reached agreement about arrangements for collecting the student from school. Until the arrangements are made, principals must ensure adequate supervision is provided for the student at school. When a student has special transport arrangements, the school must notify the transport provider and the Assisted School Travel Program, of the suspension, following notification to the parents or carers.

Principals can use the notice of suspension template for written notifications. The notification for all suspensions and extensions must include:

  • the ground/s and any specific reasons for the suspension
  • the timeframe of the suspension, including the duration, start and end dates, or any other details
  • outline of a learning program and clear expectations that the student will continue a learning program while suspended
  • contact details of a nominated person from the school
  • information for students and parents or carers on accessing support services, where relevant
  • expectations for parents or carers to positively engage with the school to support positive student behaviour and manage behaviour or behaviours of concern
  • the importance of parents’ or carers’ involvement with the student and school to support the student’s safe and successful return to school following the resolution of the suspension
  • parent or carer information, which includes information concerning appeal rights and processes and an appeal template
  • clear expectations that the student should not be on school grounds without the principal’s prior permission
  • notification that the school will not have duty of care for the student as the suspension is occurring at home and that the parent or carer will be responsible for their child’s care and safety.

2.3 Duration of a suspension

The principal must decide the duration of the suspension with consideration of appropriate time to implement supports for the student and/or put in place appropriate safety measures where relevant.

The duration can be:

  • up to 5 consecutive school days for students in Kindergarten to Year 2
  • up to 10 consecutive school days for students in Year 3 to Year 12 (If a student is suspended for 3 days at a shared site that they only attend one day a week, then the period of the suspension is from the starting date for 3 consecutive school days. It is not for 3 weeks as they only attend one day a week).

Where a principal originally issues a suspension with fewer days than up to 5 for Kindergarten to Year 2 and 10 for Years 3 to 12, they may increase the length of the suspension up to those maximum days if required without it being considered an extension.

However, if the number of consecutive school days are insufficient to implement appropriate supports for the student, the principal can extend the suspension for up to 5 additional school days.

This would extend the suspension to:

  • 6 to 10 school days for students in Kindergarten to Year 2
  • 11 to 15 school days for students in Years 3 to 12.

The principal will inform the Director, Educational Leadership of their decision to extend the suspension. The principal and Director, Educational Leadership should discuss additional system support the school may require and escalate as necessary.

The Director, Educational Leadership will escalate the matter in consultation with the principal to gain additional system support for the student and school to allow the earliest possible successful return to school.

Students attending special programs such as those offered by tutorial centres, behaviour schools and hospital schools that may involve attending their home school for part of the week are not automatically precluded from attending the special program if they are suspended from their home school and vice versa. This is subject to negotiation between the principal of the home school and the principal supervising the special program. This negotiation must occur before the student is next due to attend the other locality. Subject to safety considerations, it is a priority to have the student back at school and engaged in learning as soon as possible.

2.4 Further extension of a suspension to allow delivery of system support

In serious circumstances, and if additional system support and resources are still required to be put in place, a principal can consider further periods of 5-day extensions, in consultation with the Director, Educational Leadership, with each 5-day period to be reviewed.

Director, Educational Leadership approval must be sought for any suspension and subsequent extensions beyond 30 days for students in Kindergarten to Year 2 or 45 days for students in Years 3 to 12, within a school year.

In these serious circumstances, system support must be an urgent priority to allow the earliest possible successful return to school.

2.5 Resolving the suspension

Principals must attempt to resolve the suspension and return the student to school on or before the concluding date of the suspension.

Wherever possible, a face-to-face meeting should be held to resolve the suspension and return the student to school. Other meeting formats may be appropriate in some situations. This must include the principal or their delegate, the student and a parent or carer. The principal, or their delegate, may invite other key personnel. The student and/or parents or carers may also invite a support person.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the student’s behaviour and plan supports and management strategies to enable the student’s successful return to school. Depending on student factors, such as developmental age, trauma, child protection concerns, cultural considerations, disability and individual needs and circumstances, the principal or their delegate may interview the student in the presence of their parent or carer and/or support person to ascertain that the student:

  • has a clear understanding of the reasons for the suspension and how their actions did not meet the standards of the department’s Behaviour code for students
  • understands the impacts their behaviour had on others
  • has reflected on strategies to avoid any repetition of this unacceptable behaviour in the future.

A successful return to school will involve:

  • documenting outcomes from the meeting, with a copy provided to the student and parent or carer, to support the student’s ongoing wellbeing and learning needs, including regular monitoring and mentoring, with clear goals and explicit strategies
  • where required, a risk assessment to minimise and manage the physical and psychological hazards that the student may pose to themselves, students, staff, or other persons.

A successful return to school may involve:

  • referral to and assessments by the school’s learning and support team
  • referral to and ongoing support from the school counselling service staff.

2.6 Support for those impacted by behaviour or behaviours of concern

The duty of care and work health and safety law requires the department to do what it reasonably can to ensure the safety of students and staff. This obligation is met by assessing identified risks and identifying and implementing strategies to eliminate or minimise identified risks, including providing individuals with necessary support.

Principals should take what steps they reasonably can in undertaking this task and can rely on advice and support from the Director, Educational Leadership, Health Safety and Staff Wellbeing directorate, Delivery Support and, where applicable, external agencies or experts.

Staff and students directly impacted by the behaviour leading to the suspension are to be informed of a student returning prior to the student’s return. Relevant staff must also be provided with copies of any current risk assessments and/or behaviour management plans.

3. Expulsion

There may be some serious circumstances where behaviour interventions, including suspensions and risk management strategies have not been successful in managing significant behaviours of concern.

In these circumstances a principal can consider expelling a student from the school.

In all cases where consideration is being given to expelling a student, the gravity of the circumstances requires that particular emphasis be given to procedural fairness.

3.1 Grounds for an expulsion

The principal and Director, Educational Leadership can consider expelling a student from a particular school on the following grounds:

  • serious behaviour or behaviours of concern where behaviour interventions and risk management strategies, including suspensions, have not been successful
  • unsatisfactory participation in learning for students aged 17 years and over, where
    • a student is at risk of receiving an ‘N’ determination (non-completion of course requirements for this course) in a minimum of 2 courses and has received a minimum of 2 written ‘N’ warnings in each course.

The principal’s and Director, Educational Leadership’s decision on whether to proceed with an expulsion must be informed by:

  • consideration of whether all possible and appropriate alternative behaviour support management, intervention and risk management strategies, including suspension, have been implemented or attempted, including reasonable adjustments for students with disability
  • assessment of all possible alternative programs, strategies and educational settings such as different schools, support classes, schools for specific purposes and TAFE
  • consideration of student factors such as developmental age, trauma, child protection concerns, cultural considerations, disability and individual needs and circumstances
  • written advice from the school counsellor, where appropriate.

In line with duty of care obligations, the principal’s and Director, Educational Leadership’s decision to expel can be made irrespective of any action by another agency, including NSW Police and Department of Communities and Justice, to mitigate any unacceptable risks posed to teaching and learning, and the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and/or students.

When considering an expulsion due to serious behaviour or behaviours of concern, the duty of care and work health and safety law requires the department to do what it reasonably can to ensure the safety of students and staff. This obligation is met by assessing identified risks and identifying and implementing strategies to eliminate or minimise identified risks, including providing individuals with necessary support.

Principals should take what steps they reasonably can in undertaking this task and can rely on advice support from the Director, Educational Leadership, Health Safety and Staff Wellbeing directorate, Delivery Support and, where applicable, external agencies or experts.

The principal and Director, Educational Leadership may only expel a student for unsatisfactory participation in learning where a student is at risk of receiving an ‘N’ determination (non-completion of course requirements) in a minimum of 2 courses and has received a minimum of 2 written ‘N’ warnings in each course. In these circumstances the principal must have:

  • advised the student of the tasks or actions to be undertaken in time for the issue to be corrected and alerted the student to the possible consequences of receiving 2 written ‘N’ warnings or a final ‘N’ determination
  • followed all NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) requirements in relation to issuing ‘N’ warnings
  • provided the student with a formal written notice of potential expulsion for unsatisfactory participation from the school
  • following the written 'N’ warning letters and notice of potential expulsion, provided the student with the opportunity, time and appropriate support to complete the course requirements.

3.2 Decision to proceed with an expulsion

Once the decision to expel a student is made jointly by the principal and Director, Educational Leadership, they must:

  • advise the student and their parent or carer of the decision to expel verbally, where possible
  • formally notify the student and their parent or carer in writing, via email or post, within 24 hours of the decision, and include:
    • the implications of expulsion
    • parent or carer information, which includes information concerning appeal rights and processes and an appeal template
    • record the expulsion in the department’s in-house data system or approved third-party system within 24 hours of notifying relevant people
    • finalise the expulsion within 15 school days of the notice of potential expulsion being issued
    • ensure all documentation is retained on file at the school.

If the principal and Director, Educational Leadership decide not to proceed with an expulsion:

  • the principal will advise the student and their parent or carer of the decision not to expel, by phone where possible
  • the principal will formally notify the student and their parent or carer in writing, via email or post, on school letterhead within 24 hours of the decision
  • where expulsion was being considered for serious behaviour or behaviours of concern, the principal should return the student to school (see section 2.5 Resolving the suspension).

3.3 Placing a student on suspension pending expulsion

Once a decision has been made to proceed with the expulsion due to serious behaviour or behaviours of concern, if a student is not already on suspension, the principal should place the student on a suspension of appropriate length pending the outcome of the decision-making process.

3.4 Issuing written notice of potential expulsion

The principal can use the notice of potential expulsion template to provide written notice to the student and parent, carer or support person following the initial communications or meetings. The notice must:

  • state that the principal and Director, Educational Leadership are considering expelling the student
  • be in writing on school letterhead
  • detail the behaviour or behaviours of concern and/or unsatisfactory participation in learning
  • provide the student, parent, carer or support person the opportunity to formally meet with the principal and relevant support services
  • advise that the student and parent or carer has the right to a support person in any meeting with the school
  • notify the student and parent or carer that the student is suspended pending the outcome of the decision-making process (up to 15 consecutive school days) and include the same information as required for a notification of a suspension (see section 2.2.4 Notice of a suspension – written requirements)
  • allow 7 school days for students and parents or carers to respond before making a final decision
  • be documented on the department’s in-house data system or approved third-party system.

3.5 Convening a formal meeting with student and parents or carers

The principal and/or Director, Educational Leadership should convene a formal meeting, within 7 school days, held face-to-face with the principal, student and their parent, carer or support person, to discuss:

  • that expulsion from school is being considered
  • the reasons or grounds for the possible expulsion
  • the implications of proceeding with an expulsion
  • the information and documentation on which the consideration to expel is based.

At the meeting, the principal will inform the student and parent or carer of the remaining days left from the original 7 school day notification to consider and respond to the information provided before the principal makes a final decision.

The principal will ensure all documentation, records of interventions, meeting minutes, formal communications and responses are stored securely at school.

3.6 Decision to re-enrol an expelled student

Students expelled from a particular school for a serious behaviour or behaviours of concern may only re-enrol in that school with the approval of the Executive Director, School Performance.

For students expelled from a particular school for unsatisfactory participation in learning, the principal has the discretion to re-enrol that student in their school.

3.7 Arranging an alternative educational placement

It is the student’s and parents’ or carers’ responsibility to find a suitable alternative placement. While the principal has no further obligation to arrange an alternative educational placement, they can advise on possible options.

The principal and Director, Educational Leadership, with support from Delivery Support, will arrange an alternative educational placement appropriate to the needs of the student within 15 school days from the date the student and parent or carer were notified of the expulsion. Firstly, the principal must:

  • conduct a risk assessment regarding the student’s behaviour to help identify an appropriate placement where the student can access the curriculum while being safely accommodated
  • suggest any appropriate support for the student in the new setting
  • ensure that the student is provided with a learning program covering any period of time that the student is suspended
  • where a suitable alternative cannot be arranged, refer the issue to the Director, Educational Leadership for resolution.

Where a principal has referred an issue with the student’s alternative educational placement to the Director, Educational Leadership for resolution, the director may consider:

  • directing, with approval from the Executive Director, Public Schools, the re-admittance of the student to the school, subject to intensive support and strict disciplinary arrangements, in consultation with the principal as necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the student, other students and staff
  • placing the student in an alternative education setting and/or employment
  • enrolling the student in TAFE (if applicable)
  • the student participating in other Minister-approved education or training
  • a transition to work program
  • enrolling the student in distance education where the distance education enrolment procedures have been fully considered
  • recommending to the Executive Director, School Performance that another school be directed to enrol the student (subject to any issues that may have been identified by a risk assessment, having been addressed).

4. Submission not to re-admit a student to all or any NSW public school

Where the nature of the behaviour is so extreme that both the principal and Director, Educational Leadership, with support from Delivery Support, cannot find an alternative placement, the director in consultation with the principal may prepare a submission to the Secretary, NSW Department of Education, recommending to the Minister that a student expelled for serious behaviour or behaviours of concern not be re-admitted to all or any government schools. The Director, Educational Leadership must:

  • work in consultation with the principal to prepare the submission to the Secretary
  • provide in the submission
    • the reasons for the recommendation
    • actions taken and attempts to manage and support the student’s behaviour
    • the school counsellor’s report, where appropriate
    • a copy of all documentation relevant in the decision-making process
    • any records or copies of responses from the student or their parent or carer
  • forward the submission to the Secretary, through the Executive Director and the Deputy Secretary.

5. Appeals

Appeals against suspension and expulsion decisions can be made where a student or their parent or carer believe departmental policy and procedures have not been followed correctly and/or an unfair decision has been made.

Appeals should be in writing and clearly state the reasons for the appeal. If a parent or carer needs assistance in completing an appeal form, assistance should be provided (see section 5.3 Assistance with lodging an appeal).

An appeal can only be made against the original decision to suspend or expel. Formal cautions and/or a decision to extend a suspension cannot be appealed.

5.1 Decision makers

Suspension appeals

The Director, Educational Leadership will receive, review and decide on the outcome of a suspension appeal.

If the Director, Educational Leadership has been involved in the decision to suspend, the Executive Director, Public Schools will receive, review and decide on the outcome of a suspension appeal. The Executive Director, Public Schools may delegate this role to a Director, Educational Leadership not involved in the decision to suspend.

Advice managing a suspension appeal may be sought from other department areas, however the Director, Educational Leadership or Executive Director, Public Schools if deciding the review, is the final level of appeal and must make the final decision.

Expulsion appeals

The Executive Director, Public Schools will receive, review and decide on the outcome of an expulsion appeal. The Executive Director, Public Schools may delegate the management of the appeal to another suitable officer or seek advice from other department areas but the Executive Director, Public Schools is the final level of appeal and must make the final decision.

5.2 Review and decision

The decision maker must:

  • acknowledge receipt of the appeal in writing within 2 school days and advise on next steps
  • review all documentation and consider if Student behaviour policy and these procedure requirements were followed, including providing reasonable adjustments for students with disability
  • ensure all appropriate materials have been provided to the student and parent or carer before deciding on the outcome of the appeal
  • discuss relevant issues with the person lodging the appeal and any other parties, as appropriate, before deciding the outcome of the appeal
  • resolve the appeal within 15 school days for suspension and 20 school days for expulsion, from receipt of the appeal
  • advise all parties of the outcome of the appeal (upheld or denied) and the specific reasons for the decision
  • record the outcome of the appeal in the department’s feedback and complaints system.

5.3 Assistance with lodging an appeal

A school should help students and parents or carers who wish to lodge an appeal. Assistance should be provided in the following circumstances:

  • if the school receives the appeal, the principal should refer the person lodging the appeal to the Delivery Support team, where staff should identify an appropriate support person. The support person should
    • not be involved, or appear to be involved, in making or assisting with the decision on the appeal, in line with procedural fairness principles
    • help the person lodging the appeal understand their rights and the appeal process
    • make sure that the person lodging the appeal has access to the appeal form and, if necessary, assist with completing it.

If the appeal is a verbal notification, the Delivery Support team should assist in lodging a written appeal.

The fact that an appeal has been lodged does not put on hold the principal’s decision to suspend, or suspend prior to expulsion, from a particular school.

6. Alternative programs (suspension centres, tutorial centres and behaviour schools)

For some schools, it may be feasible for a student to attend an alternate program, as outlined below:

  • Suspension centres provide structured programs to help students successfully return to school as soon as possible. Principals will need to decide if students placed on suspension would benefit from such a program.
  • Tutorial centres provide an age-appropriate short-term intervention for students who have difficulty managing their behaviour in a mainstream setting. Tutorial centres/programs must be attached to a base school, which is generally a high school.
  • Behaviour schools are educational settings established to provide intensive behavioural and educational support for students who have exhausted all other behaviour support provisions available to the school, and/or for whom a risk assessment indicates a behaviour school placement is appropriate. Behaviour schools will involve a shared enrolment with the home school with a view to gradually return the student back to the home school full time.

Data and record-keeping requirements

Schools must use data collection methods, as outlined in this section, to identify and monitor students who require targeted or individual behaviour support.

Principals, with support from school staff, must collect and retain information on student behaviour, including actions taken to support and manage individual student behaviour and any support strategies implemented or reasonable adjustments required. This helps schools monitor the impact of the support they are providing to students.

Principals must ensure effective data collection and record keeping practices are fulfilled, including:

  • recording suspensions in either a department in-house data system or an approved third-party system within 24 hours
  • record expulsions in the department in-house data system
  • ensuring attendance is correctly marked for the student for the duration of the suspension
  • ensuring staff complete written records of any related communications with parents or carers, and retain on file at the school
  • completing written records of formal meetings with parents or carers and retain on a file at the school
  • recording any appeals and outcomes in the department’s feedback and complaints system)
  • keeping records and documentation of behaviour support responses and interventions
  • keeping individual student support planning documentation for students where their behaviour/s of concern require interventions and support
  • documenting risk management plans
  • documenting decisions made, the reasons for those decisions and processes followed
  • documenting any considerations given to implementing reasonable adjustments
  • keeping records of any consultation, or attempts at consultation, with students, parents or carers, and external agencies to discuss a student’s behaviour.

Principals must, where permissible and appropriate, share individual student records with parents or carers, or with the Department of Communities and Justice or other authorised agency for students under Parental Responsibility of the Minister. The Right to Access – Agency Information Guide on the department’s website provides more guidance on information sharing.

Requests for information should be provided to officers from Communities and Justice in response to a request for information under Part 16A of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 or where the release of such information is otherwise authorised, such as where the Minister for Communities and Justice has parental responsibility for the child. Relevant details must also be provided to agencies such as Centrelink upon receipt of any ‘Notice to Produce Information' or similar directive.

Supporting tools, resources and related information

Policy contact

Leader, Behaviour Services
Phone: (02) 7814 3809
studentbehaviour@det.nsw.edu.au

The Director, Behaviour and Student Participation monitors the implementation of this procedure, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and updates it as needed.

Reference number PD-2006-0316-06-V03.0.0
Implementation date 2007
Last updated 30/01/2024
Publicly available Yes
Policy cluster/s Student management

Category:

  • Student management and wellbeing

Topics:

  • Access and equity
  • Health, safety and wellbeing

Business Unit:

  • Inclusion and Wellbeing
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