Student Rights

Free legal help for students, parents & caregivers

Private schools: Suspensions and expulsions

When and how can I be suspended or expelled from a private school?

Private schools aren’t bound by the rules in the Education Act for suspensions and exclusions/expulsions. Instead, discipline in private schools is governed by each school’s own rules and processes. However, parents and students can rely on an implied term of their enrolment agreement with the school that the school will behave fairly and reasonably.

What happens after I’m suspended or expelled from a private school?

Education Act 1989, s 35Q

Although suspension and expulsion decisions in private schools are governed by each school’s own rules, the Education Act does specify what has to happen after the student is suspended or expelled.

First, the principal must immediately notify the Ministry of Education. If you’re under 16 and you’re not back at school or at a new school within a reasonable time, the Ministry has to make other arrangements for you. In these cases, the Ministry has to do one of the following things:

  • arrange for you to be enrolled in another school
  • direct a state school to enrol you, or
  • direct your parents to enrol you in a correspondence school.

If you’re 16 or older, the Ministry doesn’t have to do any of those things, but it can choose to do so.

Before it directs a state school to accept you in one of these cases, the Ministry has to consult with you, your parents and the new school’s board. It can also consult with other people or organisations about your education or welfare if it thinks this is appropriate.