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School operations

Suspensions

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to ensure all Victorian government schools comply with legislative and Departmental policy requirements when implementing suspension procedures.

Summary

  • Suspension is a serious disciplinary measure and principals must consider alternative interventions and supports for students before proceeding to suspension as the appropriate action.
  • Only principals have authority to make the decision to suspend a student. This authority cannot be delegated.
  • Detailed requirements exist for the suspension process and it is essential that principals refer to the full mandatory Suspension Guidelines and Procedures in the Guidance tab when they are considering suspending a student.
  • This policy is underpinned by Ministerial Order 1125.

Details

Ministerial Order 1125 — Procedures for Suspension and Expulsion of Students in Government School defines the grounds and process for suspensions and expulsions in Victorian Government schools.

When considering or implementing a suspension, principals must refer to and apply the procedures set out in the mandatory suspension guidelines and procedures in the Guidance tab. These guidelines and procedures have been developed to support and guide principals to meet their legal and policy obligations when they are implementing suspension procedures.

Suspension is a serious disciplinary measure and is best reserved for incidents when other measures have not produced a satisfactory response. Principals must consider alternative interventions and supports that can be provided to the student to address the reasons for the behaviour before proceeding to suspension.

The Department’s Student Engagement Policy and associated guidance and resources helps principals to promote positive student behaviour and respond to challenging student behaviour. The student engagement guidance also provides principals with supports and resources regarding disciplinary measures, refer to Behaviour — Students.

Authority to suspend

Only principals have authority to make the final decision to suspend a student. This authority cannot be delegated.

Grounds for suspension

In order for suspension to be an option, the following conditions must be in place.  The student’s behaviour must have occurred:

  • whilst attending school
  • or travelling to or from school
  • or while engaged in any school activity away from the school
  • or travelling to or from any school activity

and, the student’s behaviour must meet one or more of the following conditions: 

  • behaves in such a way as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person
  • causes significant damage to or destruction of property
  • commits or attempts to commit or is knowingly involved in the theft of property
  • possesses, uses or sells or deliberately assists another person to possess, use or sell illicit substances or weapons
  • fails to comply with any clear and reasonable instruction of a staff member so as to pose a danger, whether actual, perceived or threatened, to the health, safety or wellbeing of any person
  • consistently engages in behaviour that vilifies, defames, degrades or humiliates another person based on age, breastfeeding, gender, identity, impairment, industrial activity, lawful sexual activity, marital status, parent or carer status or status as a carer, physical features, political belief or activity, pregnancy, race, religious belief or activity, sex, sexual orientation, personal association (whether as a relative or otherwise) with a person who is identified by reference to any of the above attributes
  • consistently behaves in an unproductive manner that interferes with the wellbeing, safety or educational opportunities of any other student

Note: For incidents between students that occur outside of school hours or in locations other than those listed above, a suspension cannot be used as a response. The impact of cyberbullying (and other behaviours) outside of school hours or off school premises on students is acknowledged, however, if the behaviour does not occur at school or a school activity or when travelling to or from school or school activity, suspension is not an available recourse. If incidents outside of school hours are connected to behaviour that does meet the grounds and location requirements for suspension, this external behaviour may be considered when determining the response to an in-school incident. 

For more information on responding to online incidents of concern, refer to Cybersafety and Responsible Use of Digital Technologies.

Procedures for suspension

Principals considering the suspension of a student must refer to the mandatory Suspension Guidelines and Procedures on the Guidance tab to ensure the required suspension considerations (including grounds for suspension) and the suspension process are followed. Following these guidelines and procedures will support principals to comply with the Ministerial Order 1125 as well as the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic), anti-discrimination laws and any other relevant laws, such as duty of care and occupational health and safety.

Record Keeping

The Public Records Office of Victoria requires suspension records to be destroyed one year after the student leaves the school.

Contacts

Schools may contact their Regional Engagement Coordinator for support with the suspension process. 

Refer to Our office locations for contact details for each regional office.

Definitions

Suspension 
The process of excluding a student from the standard instruction or educational opportunities being provided to other students at the school for part of a day, a full day or multiple days.

Relevant legislation

Department policy on suspending students

Reviewed 08 April 2021

Policy last updated

15 June 2020

Scope

  • Schools

Contacts

Wellbeing Health and Engagement Division There are multiple contacts for this policy. Refer to the Contact section of this policy for details.

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