Stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions guidelines - part 2

About the guidelines

These guidelines:

  • are designed to assist boards of trustees, principals, and teachers with their legal options and duties and meet their obligations under relevant statutory requirements, and
  • are for use in all state and state-integrated schools. Independent schools may also wish to adopt this guide.

The guidelines comprise:

Part 1: Legal options and duties [PDF, 2.4 MB]

Part 2: Good practice [PDF, 2.4 MB]

These guidelines replace those published by the Ministry of Education in June 2004 and the 2007 Supplement. The paragraphs have been numbered for ease of use and reference. Cross references to Part 1 — Legal options and duties are given where relevant.

Licensing Criteria Cover

Appendix: Model letters

This section provides model letters for use by principals and boards of trustees.

In this section

  • Letter 1: Notifying parent/guardian of stand-down
    • Dear [name of parent/guardian]

      STAND-DOWN OF [name of student]

      Further to my telephone call of [date], this letter confirms that [name of student] has been stooddown from school for a period of [#] days. I have made this decision because I am satisfied that:

      either Option 1:

      [his/her] gross misconduct is a harmful or dangerous example to other students at the school (under section 14(1)(a) of the Education Act 1989).

      or Option 2:

      [his/her] continual disobedience is a harmful or dangerous example to other students at the school (under section 14(1)(a) of the Education Act 1989).

      or Option 3:

      because of [his/her] behaviour it is likely that [name of student], or other students at the school, will be seriously harmed if [he/she] is not stood-down (under section 14(1)(b) of the Education Act 1989).

      While I stood-down [name of student] today ([enter date]) the day in which the stand-down occurred is not counted. This means s/he will not be permitted to attend school fulltime until [date student can return to school].

      I have decided to stand-down [name of student] because [give reason]

      Option

      I wish to discuss my decision with you and [name of student]. Please contact me on [telephone number] so that we can arrange a meeting as soon as possible, at a time that suits us all.

      or

      If you and [name of student] wish to discuss this stand-down with me please contact me on [telephone number] so that we can arrange a meeting as soon as possible, at a time that suits us all.

      You may wish family members or other support people to attend this meeting with you.

      I have enclosed an information sheet, provided by the Ministry of Education, to help answer any questions you may have about stand-downs.

      [Optional – In this instance, I have decided that [student] can attend school on [date and time] for [guidance and/or counselling sessions or an exam]].

      [Optional – insert other information, such as an indication of any guidance and counselling already arranged, arrangements for specific course requirements to be met during the period of stand-down, any other persons to whom a copy of the letter has been sent, notification of times/days when the principal has other commitments, etc.]

      [Optional – insertion to personalise notification.]

      Yours sincerely

      Principal
      [School name]

  • Letter 2: Notifying parent/guardian of suspension
    • Dear [name of parent/guardian]

      SUSPENSION OF [name of student]

      Further to my telephone call of [date], this letter confirms that [name of student] has been suspended from school. I have made this decision because I am satisfied that:

      either Option 1:

      [his/her] gross misconduct is a harmful or dangerous example to other students at the school (under section 14(1)(a) of the Education Act 1989).

      or Option 2:

      [his/her] continual disobedience is a harmful or dangerous example to other students at the school (under section 14(1)(a) of the Education Act 1989).

      or Option 3:

      because of [his/her] behaviour it is likely that [name of student], or other students at the school, will be seriously harmed if [he/she] is not suspended (under section 14(1)(b) of the Education Act 1989).

      I have decided to suspend [name of student] because [give reasons]. This suspension takes affect immediately. This means s/he will not be permitted to attend school until further notice.

      The board of trustees must now meet to discuss the incident and consider the available options as listed below.

      As discussed by telephone, this meeting will be held at <time> on <date> at <venue>. You, <name of student> and any support persons have the option of attending this meeting in person, via teleconference or by video link. Although face-to-face meetings are preferable, we understand that this is not always possible. If you wish to attend by telephone or video link instead you will need to send a written request as soon as possible. This can be done via email or text.

      I will ensure that you will be given a copy of my report to the board and any other relevant information at least 48 hours before the meeting.

      At the meeting, the board will have a copy of my report and may discuss it. The board will give you an opportunity to comment and participate if you wish. You can provide any information that you believe the board should consider in making its decision.

      [name of student] may also attend the meeting and speak to the board. You and [name of student] may bring representatives or advocates with you who may also speak to the board at the meeting.

      The board may decide to:

      1. lift the suspension (with or without conditions) which means [student name] can attend school again fulltime, or
      2. extend the suspension with conditions for a reasonable period of time, which means [student name] remains out of school temporarily and has conditions to meet before they come back to school, or either
      3. exclude from school, which means [student name] must leave this school and must attend another school because they are under 16 years, or
      4. expel from school, which means [student name] must leave this school.

      After the board meeting, I will talk with you about what happens next.

      [Optional – insert other information, such as an indication of any guidance and counselling already arranged, arrangements for specific course requirements to be met, etc.]

      I have enclosed an information sheet, provided by the Ministry of Education, to help answer any questions you may have about the suspension process.

      [Optional – insertion to personalise notification.]

      Yours sincerely

      Principal
      [School name]

  • Letter 3: Notifying parent/guardian of outcome of board meeting
    • Dear [name of parent/guardian]

      Thank you for attending the meeting of [date] where the board of trustees considered the suspension of [name of student] from this school.

      After considering all the material presented at the meeting, the points raised in discussion and the options available to it, the Board of Trustees decided to:

      [Options – select ONE]

      • lift the suspension of [name of student] unconditionally, or
      • lift the suspension of [name of student] with conditions, or
      • extend the suspension of [name of student] with conditions until [date], or
      • (under 16) exclude [name of student] from this school and require him/her to attend another school, or
      • (16 and over) expel [name of student] from this school.

      The board made this decision because [explain why the board arrived at the decision it did including conclusions about the main issues].

      [Insert appropriate paragraphs to state any conditions, explain the purpose of the conditions and how they are to be met and monitored, and inform the parent/guardian that if they are not met, the board can reconsider its decision with all the original options available to it.]

      [Optional – insertion to personalise response.]

      I have notified the Ministry of Education of this decision.

      Yours sincerely

      On behalf of Board of Trustees
      [School name]

  • Letter 4: Reconsideration of suspension letter
    • Dear [name of parent/guardian]

      RECONSIDERATION MEETING REGARDING [name of student]

      Further to my telephone call of [date], this letter confirms that the board has agreed to meet to reconsider the action it took following [name of student]’s earlier suspension.

      I requested that the board meet because I was satisfied that has failed to comply with the conditions set by the board when it [lifted or extended] [his/her] suspension. Specifically [name of student] has failed to [provide detail].

      As discussed by telephone, this meeting will be held at [time] on [date] at [venue].

      I will ensure that you will be given a copy of my report to the board and any other relevant information at least 48 hours before the meeting.

      At the meeting, the board will have a copy of my report and may discuss it. The board will give you an opportunity to comment and participate if you wish. You can provide any information that you believe the board should consider in making its decision.

      [name of student] may also attend the meeting and speak to the board. You and [name of student] may bring representatives or advocates with you who may also speak to the board at the meeting.

      The board may decide to:

      1. lift the suspension (with or without conditions) which means [student name] can attend school again fulltime, or
      2. extend the suspension with conditions for a reasonable period of time, which means [student name] remains out of school temporarily and has conditions to meet before they come back to school, or either
      3. exclude from school, which means [student name] must leave this school and must attend another school because they are under 16 years or
      4. expel from school, which means [student name] must leave this school.

      After the board meeting, I will talk with you about what happens next.

      [Optional – insert other information, such as an indication of any guidance and counselling already arranged, arrangements for specific course requirements to be met, etc.]

      I have enclosed an information sheet, provided by the Ministry of Education, to help answer any questions you may have about the suspension process.

      [Optional – insertion to personalise notification.]

      Yours sincerely

      Principal
      [School name]

  • Letter 5: Letter following reconsideration
    • Dear [name of parent/guardian]

      Thank you for attending the meeting of [date] where the board of trustees reconsidered the suspension conditions of [name of student] from this school.

      After considering all the material presented at the meeting, the points raised in discussion and the options available to it, the board of trustees decided to:

      [Options – select ONE]

      • lift the suspension of [name of student] unconditionally
      • lift the suspension of [name of student] with conditions
      • extend the suspension of [name of student] with conditions until [date]
      • (under 16) exclude [name of student] from this school and require him/her to attend another school
      • (16 and over) expel [name of student] from this school.

      The board made this decision because [explain why the board arrived at the decision it did including conclusions about the main issues].

      [Insert appropriate paragraphs to state any conditions, explain the purpose of the conditions and how they are to be met and monitored, and inform the parent/guardian that if they are not met, the board can reconsider its decision with all the original options available to it.]

      [Optional – insertion to personalise response.]

      I have notified the Ministry of Education of this decision.

      Yours sincerely

      On behalf of board of trustees
      [School name]

  • Letter 6: Notifying parent/guardian of withdrawal of stand-down
    • Dear [name of parent/guardian]

      Thank you for meeting with me on [enter date] about my decision to stand-down [name of student] from school.

      As a result of our discussion and the information considered, I have decided to withdraw the stand-down of [name of student]. This means he/she can return to school immediately.

      I have notified the Ministry of Education of this decision.

      [Insert appropriate final paragraph.]

      Yours sincerely

      Principal
      [School name]

  • Letter 7: Notifying parent/guardian of shortening of stand-down
    • Dear [name of parent/guardian]

      Thank you for meeting with me on [enter date] about my decision to stand-down [name of student] from school. This letter summarises our discussions, confirms my decision, and records the way forward.

      [Insert appropriate paragraph about the matters discussed.]

      As a result of our discussion and the information considered, I have decided to shorten the standdown of [name of student]. This means it will be shortened by [number] days and he/she can return to school on [enter date].

      It was agreed that the school will [insert any new actions the school will take eg: changing class rooms, engaging RTLB, working with the teacher on behaviour management or an individual student plan].

      It was also agreed that I/we/you will monitor [enter name of student] progress at school and [insert any guidance and support eg: meet with the guidance counsellor, complete an IEP.]

      I have notified the Ministry of Education of this decision.

      [Insert appropriate final paragraph.]

      Yours sincerely

      Principal
      [School name]