Parents are sometimes called to meet with the principal and advised that it would be best that they
remove their child from the school. They are usually told that if they don’t the child will be
suspended and the likely outcome is that they will be excluded or expelled. Parents are promised
that if they do withdraw their child there will be no exclusion or expulsion on the school record.

The parent’s possible responses to this situation are different depending on whether the student is
at a state, state integrated or a private school.

State school

Asking or advising parents or the student themselves to withdraw from a state school, where the
alternative is the possibility of suspension, exclusion or expulsion, is illegal. Sometimes it is used by
schools as an easy way to get rid of difficult students without going through the suspension and
exclusion process. Other times the school genuinely believes it is in the best interests of the student
to move to another school.

The problem for a student excluded or expelled from a state school is that other state schools do not
have to enroll the student. However, the Ministry must help excluded students (under 16) to enroll at
another school and is allowed to help expelled students (over 16). In either case it has the power to
direct another school to enroll the student.
The problems with agreeing to withdraw a student voluntarily are:

  • The Ministry of Education doesn’t have to help the student find a new school as they would
    if the student was formally excluded although.
  • If your child is accused wrongly of doing something or if you believe the child has been
    treated unjustly the suspension hearing provides an opportunity for the student and
    parents to be heard. It becomes more difficult (although not impossible) to make a
    complaint, argue the student’s case to the school board, or clear the student’s name at a
    later date.
  • Even though there may be no record of the student being expelled or excluded on their
    school record, other schools will likely contact the principal by phone. The new school may
    then refuse to enrol you. If you are in zone for the new school, this refusal is not legal and
    can be contested.

If you have been asked to remove your child from school it is important to get individual advice
before making any decision as circumstances may vary widely.

State integrated school

If the student has been asked to leave the school the student still has the right to enroll in the state
school for which they are in zone.

Private Schools

Private school students do not have the rights set out in the Education Act 1989 in relation to
suspensions, exclusions and expulsions or being asked to leave.

The contract of enrolment at a private school generally gives the school the right to ask that a
student be removed from the school for a range of reasons. These include such things as the
principal deciding that the student is not willing or able to benefit from the education provided by

the school. When parents sign the enrolment contract they accept the possibility that the principal
may make that decision about their child.

There are no regulations controlling how this process is managed by the private school but overseas
case law suggest that there is an implied term of fairness in the enrolment contract. If a parent
believes their student has been treated unfairly, and an appeal to the board is unsuccessful, the next
step would be to take a breach of contract case in the courts.

A student who has been expelled from a private school is still entitled to enroll at the state school for
which they are in zone.