The board’s role in effective student behaviour management

Ko tā te poari tūnga whakahaere tōtika i te whanonga ākonga

Each student's right to an education must be balanced with the need to ensure all students are able to learn in an emotionally and physically safe environment. 

Taking a student out of school can have a significant impact on their learning and social outcomes. That is why stand-downs and suspensions should always be the principal's last response after all other avenues have been tried. 

What happens at a suspension meeting?

The principal should attend the meeting. The student, the student's family | whānau and any support people are entitled to attend the suspension meeting. The meeting can only go ahead without the student and family if the board is satisfied they have been notified of the meeting and given a copy of the principal's report at least 48 hours prior to the meeting.

The board then must:

  • Review the principal's report
  • Listen with an open mind to the student's response and to any information from the family | whānau
  • Decide if the principal made a legally correct decision and followed a fair process
  • Take all relevant information into account and decide whether to:
    • lift the suspension without conditions
    • lift the suspension with conditions
    • extend the suspension with conditions
    • exclude (if the student is under 16 years) or expel the student (if the student is 16 years and over).

Find out more about conditions.

Boards must take care to follow good meeting practices at a suspension meeting. Find out more about public excluded business and delegations

What should be in the principal's report?

  • Clear, factual and neutral information about what happened, including when and where it happened
  • Reasons why the principal considers the incident justifies suspension. The principal's reasons must meet the legal threshold in section 14 of the Education Act 1989 (i.e. gross misconduct, continual disobedience or behaviour risking serious harm)
  • Any other appropriate background information about the student's history e.g. pastoral care. This background information must not be confused with the principal's reasons for suspension
  • The report must be accurate, up to date, complete, relevant and not misleading

What

What's the difference between stand-down and suspension?

Stand-down means the formal removal of a student from school for a specified period. Stand-downs of a particular student can total no more than five school days in a term or ten school days in a year. 

Suspension means the formal removal of a student from school until the board of trustees decides the outcome at a suspension meeting.

 

How

How does the board get involved when a student is suspended?

When a principal decides to suspend a student, the board must hold a meeting (to determine the outcome of the suspension) within seven school days of the suspension decision. If the decision to suspend is made in the last week of a term, the board must hold its suspension meeting within ten calendar days.

If the board does not hold the meeting in time, the suspension automatically lifts and the student returns to school.

Who

Who can stand-down or suspend a student?

Only the principal can stand-down or suspend a student. They have to decide if the circumstances of the student's behaviour fall into one of three categories. 

These are:

  • the student's gross misconduct is a harmful or dangerous example to students at the school, or
  • the student's continual disobedience is a harmful or dangerous example to students at the school, or
  • the student's behaviour is likely to cause them harm, or harm to other students at the school.

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© 2018 New Zealand School Trustees Association