What is suspension?
Suspension is a serious disciplinary consequence applied to address inappropriate behaviour. If a student is suspended, it means that they are required to stay away from school for a set period of time.
A short suspension is from 1-10 days and the student or parents are not able to appeal the principal's decision.
A long suspension is 11-20 days. The student or his/her parent or someone else on his/her behalf, is entitled to appeal to the Director-General, Department of Education for a review of a long suspension decision. The principal will send the student and his/her parent a letter outlining the reasons for the decision, the facts supporting the decision and how they can appeal.
A charge-related suspension continues until the charge is dealt with or until the principal decides that the student can attend school. Dealt with, in relation to a charge against a student for an offence, means any of the following:
- the student is acquitted or convicted of the charge
- the student is convicted of another offence arising out of substantially the same acts or omissions as those constituting the charge
- the charge is withdrawn or dismissed or the trial is discontinued.
A student or his/her parent or someone else on his/her behalf is entitled to appeal to the Director-General, Department of Education for a review of long suspension decisions when the student is given a charge-related suspension. The principal sends the student and his/her parent a letter outlining the reasons for the decision, the facts supporting the decision and how they can appeal. A student or his/her parent or someone else on his/her behalf, can provide the principal with additional information at any stage during a charge-related suspension. The principal must consider that information and decide whether to end the suspension or propose to exclude the student.
Students cannot be excluded on the grounds of the charges- they can only be excluded if they are convicted of an offence and the principal is reasonably satisfied that it is not in the best interests of other students or staff for the student to attend the school.
What can a student be suspended for?
The school's Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students describes the behaviour that is expected and the types of disciplinary consequences that may be used. A principal of a state school can suspend a student from their school on the following ground/s:
- conduct that adversely affects, or is likely to adversely affect, other students
- conduct that adversely affects, or is likely to adversely affect, the good order and management of the school
- the student is charged with a serious offence (as defined in the Commission for Children Young People and Child Guardian Act 2000)
- the student is charged with an offence, other than a serious offence and the principal is reasonably satisfied it would not be in the best interests of other students or staff for the student to attend the school while the charge is pending.
What does a principal need to consider before suspending a student?
The principal must consider the appropriate disciplinary strategy in line with the school's Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students. The principal must also consider the individual circumstances such as the student's behaviour history, disability, mental health and wellbeing, religious and cultural considerations, home environment and care arrangements.
What is the process for suspension?
If suspension is considered an appropriate disciplinary consequence the steps that a school takes when issuing a suspension are outlined in detail in the Safe, supportive and disciplined school environment procedure.
All approved forms are available in OneSchool and prompts, examples and rules guide a principal through the suspension process. School staff are also expected to operate within the Code of School Behaviour (PDF, 263KB). The principal notifies the student, and his/her parent if the student is aged under 18 years, of the suspension verbally and in writing. The school is required to enable the student to continue his/her education during the suspension. In a charge-related suspension a regional case manager is appointed to assist with this. The school may provide school work or have the student complete assignments.
When should principals contact the Queensland Police Service (QPS)?
The Queensland Police Service should be contacted when the principal plans to apply a disciplinary consequence because the student has been/may have been charged. Where police are investigating an incident the principal is not prohibited from investigating the matter and can take disciplinary action. The principal should speak with the investigating officer to ensure the school investigation does not compromise the QPS investigation. The primary responsibility of the principal is to maintain the good order and management of the school and manage the risk a student may present to other students and staff.
New guidelines have been developed to assist principals with requesting information from the Queensland Police Commissioner (DOC, 442KB) and guidance around undertaking risk assessment (DOC, 1.0MB).
Why is procedural fairness important?
Procedural fairness in this type of decision making is about a person's right to be told the allegations against them, a reasonable opportunity to see and consider the evidence relied upon by the decision maker, a reasonable opportunity to present their case and be given a fair hearing before the decision is made and the right to have a decision made by an unbiased decision maker.
Students can ask the Director-General to review a long suspension or a charge-related suspension.