In keeping with principles of procedural fairness and natural justice, a decision to expel a student from a Victorian government school can be appealed by the student or their parent/carer. This provides an opportunity to test the rare but sometimes necessary decision to expel a student.
Principals must provide the student and their parent/carer with a copy of the expulsion appeal form for their consideration. A copy of the expulsion appeal form is included in the Notice of expulsion and expulsion appeal information and form (staff login required).
An expulsion can be appealed on the following grounds:
- a student has a history of behavioural issues, and there is insufficient evidence of prior interventions designed to address the behaviour and support the student
- the grounds on which the student was expelled are considered unfair
- the expulsion process was not followed by the principal
- other extenuating circumstances.
The ‘Notice of expulsion and expulsion appeal information and form’ is available to download in a number of different languages from the Resources tab.
Principals are encouraged to use the Expulsion appeal process (staff login required) and Principal expulsion checklist (staff login required) which reflect the requirements of Ministerial Order 1125. These documents will assist principals in understanding and acquitting each step of the appeal process.
If a student or their parent/carer chooses to appeal the principal’s expulsion decision, they must complete the expulsion appeal form and provide it to the principal within 10 business days of receiving the notice of expulsion.
Appeals lodged after 10 business days will only be considered in extenuating circumstances. The principal must still forward late appeals to the area executive director who will make an assessment on a case by case basis.
The principal must provide the area executive director within 1 business day of receiving the appeal (including appeals received after 10 business days) with a copy of the completed:
- notice of expulsion
- expulsion report (and the record of behaviour support and intervention meeting)
- expulsion appeal form.
The principal should contact the regional engagement coordinator to advise that an appeal has been lodged. They will continue to support the student and their parent/carer during the appeal process.
Only the secretary or their delegate (usually the area executive director) has the authority to decide on an expulsion appeal. The area executive director will assess whether an expulsion review panel is required and convene one where useful to make a recommendation to them on whether to uphold or overturn an expulsion decision.
The expulsion review panel is comprised of 3 members:
- a departmental representative selected by the secretary or their delegate
- an independent member from a pool of nominated staff from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, selected by the regional director
- a regional approved support person selected by the principal.
The regional approved support person on an expulsion review panel cannot be the same person who has been engaged in the expulsion process to date and attended the behaviour support and intervention meeting.
The expulsion review panel will consider the documentation provided and must provide an opportunity to hear from the student and affected parties:
- the student and their parent/carer will explain their reasons for appealing the expulsion decision – this can be done in person or via phone, engaging interpreters where required
- the principal will be provided with an opportunity to be heard, either in person or by some other means considered appropriate by the panel
- the panel will give consideration to the safety and wellbeing of affected parties, including where an expulsion decision may be overturned, where relevant to the grounds of the appeal.
The expulsion review panel will deliberate and prepare an expulsion review panel report (staff login required) for the decision maker (usually the area executive director) outlining the relevant facts and considerations, and making a recommendation in relation to the appeal within one business day of the conclusion of the panel meeting.
The area executive director will consider the panel's recommendation to uphold or overturn the expulsion, but they are not bound to follow the recommendation. If the area executive director does not agree with the panel’s decision they must consult with the panel to understand the panel’s reasons for their recommendation. The area executive director must document the reasons for their decision in the expulsion review panel report if they do not uphold the panel’s recommendation. The area executive director must provide this documentation to the regional engagement coordinator and will consult with the chair of the panel to formally discuss the reason for overturning the expulsion review panels recommendation.
The area executive director must use their best endeavours to make a decision within 15 business days of receiving the expulsion appeal form from the principal.
The area executive director will contact the student and their parent/carer within 2 business days of a decision being reached to communicate the decision made. They must also provide the principal, student and their parent or carer with written notification of their decision and a copy of the expulsion review panel report.
Decision to uphold the expulsion
It is essential that a supported transition plan is promptly developed and enacted to ensure the student remains engaged in education. Refer to the section of these guidelines and procedures on supported transition for further advice.
Decision to overturn the expulsion
If the decision is made to overturn the expulsion, the principal must take the following actions as soon as possible:
- re-enrol the student in the school (where this is still the preference of the student and their parent or carer) under a return to school plan developed with the student, parent or carer and student’s teacher or teachers
- remove record of the expulsion from the student’s permanent record and
- notify the student and their parent/carer in writing that their record has been amended.
To ensure the student and whole school community is appropriately supported, the principal should work closely with the local area team to plan the student’s return to school. This can include convening a student support group and implementing a behaviour support plan for the student. The focus of the student support group should be to collaborate with the parent or carer and student and put in place or review relevant interventions and support to engage the student positively at school.
The principal should also give consideration to any supports required for students or staff affected by the student’s behaviour. It may also be appropriate to consider accessing conflict resolution supports where there is an ongoing conflict or tension between members of the school community. The principal can seek advice and support on conflict resolution options from their local area team or the Central Complaints Team.
Referring an overturned expulsion to the Student Safety and Wellbeing Expert Panel
In rare cases, a principal may hold ongoing concerns for the safety of students at the school where an expulsion decision is overturned and the student plans to return to the school. In these circumstances, the principal may refer the case to a Student Safety and Wellbeing Expert Panel (expert panel) to consider the matter with regard to student safety, in order to provide a recommendation(s) to the secretary, as a delegate of the minister, about the student’s future at the school and advise how best to support their ongoing engagement in education.
This step is designed to ensure that the best outcome for all students in the school community is reached, and can only be pursued where the principal reasonably believes that returning the student to the school poses a risk to the safety of other students at the school that cannot be managed, including with additional support.
Principals are encouraged to discuss their views and concerns with the area executive director or a senior regional staff member in determining whether to refer a matter to an expert panel. This is an opportunity for the principal, local Area team and regional office to work closely together to collectively identify all available supports and interventions to mitigate safety concerns and support the student’s successful transition back to school and ongoing educational engagement.
If, after these discussions, the principal believes the safety risks cannot be managed or mitigated, they should inform the area executive director of their intent to refer the case to an expert panel. The principal must provide the expert panel secretariat with a completed and signed referral form within 1 business day of being informed that the expulsion is overturned. This is to ensure the area executive director is aware of the principal’s decision prior to informing the student and their parent/carer of the outcome of the expulsion appeal process, which must occur within 2 business days.
An expert panel will be convened by members appointed on behalf of the secretary to consider the matter and to make a recommendation(s) relating to the student’s continued enrolment at the school, in accordance with section 2.2.17 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic), with specific regard to the safety of the student or other students at the school.
The secretary will make a decision, in a timely manner, having regard to the advice and recommendation(s) of an expert panel as to whether to refuse the student’s continued enrolment at the school in the interests of ensuring the safety of all students at the school. The secretary may also give consideration to any other comments made by an expert panel.
In the instance that an overturned expulsion is referred to an expert panel, the student’s re-enrolment in the school will be deferred while an expert panel is considering the matter. It is essential that the student remains supported throughout this process. The school, including the teacher designated to support the student throughout the expulsion process, should continue to provide appropriate and meaningful work to support their ongoing education. The student’s student absence learning plan should be updated, if required.
The department’s local area and regional teams will work closely with the school, student(s) and their family during this period, including considering any further actions required to support the student’s continued learning.
The principal, student and their parent or carer will be informed of the outcome of an expert panel process. The local area team and regional office will work closely with all involved to ensure they are appropriately supported and the actions arising from an expert panel process are implemented.
Reviewed 24 October 2022