My child has been suspended

If your child is suspended from a state school or state integrated school in New Zealand there is a
comprehensive set of rules and guidelines which the school must follow to ensure the student is
treated fairly (see here).

If you have just received a notice advising you of the suspension you should act promptly and seek
advice and support. The notice or letter you received should advise you of

  • The reasons for the suspension;
  • The time and place of the board hearing;
  • The right of both the student and parents to attend the meeting and to be heard;
  • The right to have a support person (an advocate, representative or lawyer) who may speak
    at the meeting.

The board hearing must occur within seven school days of the date of the suspension notice (or ten
calendar days if the suspension occurs within seven days of the end of term). If the hearing does not
occur in the appropriate timeframe, the suspension expires and the student must return to school.
The meeting cannot be delayed, even by agreement.

You must be given a copy of the report that the principal provides to the board, and information
about the suspension process, as soon as possible and you must receive it at least 48 hours before
the meeting takes place. This is important because you and the student need to time to consider
what it contains. You do not have to agree to a lesser time (although you may chose to do so) and
you should not agree to attend a meeting if the time period for reading the report is so short that
you have not had time to think about the report and obtain advice and support.

At the board hearing the board has a number of options that include permanently excluding or
expelling the student. Because the consequences for the student are potentially very serious it is
strongly recommended that you have an informed and confident support person at this meeting if at
all possible to ensure that a fair process is followed. Parents and students are often not well
supported at suspension hearings.

If the suspension hearing has occurred and the student has already been excluded or expelled it may
still be possible to challenge the exclusion or expulsion if the process has not complied with the rules
and been fair. You should seek advice as soon as possible if you want to do this.