Student Rights

Free legal help for students, parents & caregivers

Being sent home on health grounds

When exactly can a student be sent home on health grounds?

Education Act 1989, s 19

You can be sent home (“precluded”) from school by the principal if the principal has reasonable grounds to think that:

  • you may have an infectious disease (like measles, meningitis or head lice) within the meaning of the Health Act 1956), or
  • you aren’t clean enough to stay at school.

This is because of the school’s responsibility to provide a safe physical and emotional environment for all students.

The principal should seek advice before deciding whether it’s necessary to send a student home on health grounds. They must also apply this law consistently. If, for example, a principal precluded one child with head lice but not others, it may be a breach of the Human Rights Act 1993.

What happens after a student is sent home on health grounds?

Education Act 1989, s 19(2)

Immediately after sending you home on health grounds, the principal must inform:

  • your parents
  • the board of trustees, and
  • if it’s a case of an infectious disease, the district health authorities.

The board must then look into the issue and decide whether to confirm or cancel the principal’s decision. You may have to produce a medical certificate to get back into school.