Student Rights

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Stand-downs: Short-term removal from school

Stand Down Process

1. Principal’s decision

The principal has to decide whether a stand-down is justified on any of these grounds:

  • Gross misconduct which is a harmful or dangerous example
  • Continual disobedience which is a harmful or dangerous example
  • Behaviour risking serious harm if the student is not suspended

You cannot be stood down by teachers, deputy principals or deans.

The principal can send you home right after making the decision, but the stand-down only officially starts from the next school day.

2. Informing parents

The principal must immediately inform one of your parents of the stand-down, its length and the reasons for it. They must also provide them with information on stand-downs and suspensions.

A stand-down can last up to 5 days. However, you can only be stood down for a maximum of 5 days in any school term and 10 days in a school year.

3. Stand-down meeting

It is not compulsory for the principal to call a meeting. However, if your parents ask for a meeting, the principal has to arrange one as soon as possible. They can discuss what led to the stand-down, what steps can be taken to address the behaviour, and expectations for when you return to school. Your parents can give the principal reasons why the stand-down should be lifted or shortened.

4. Return to school

At the end of the period, the stand-down is over and you can return to your school.

Before the stand-down expires, the principal can shorten the stand-down and allow you to return to school.

What is a “stand-down”?

Education Act 1989, ss 14, 18(1)
Education (Stand-Down, Suspension, Exclusion, and Expulsion) Rules 1999, rule 9

A stand-down is when you’re formally removed from school by the principal for a short period. It can be for up to 10 days, but it’s usually only one to three days. Stand-downs are intended to give you, your parents and the school time to look at what’s happened and work out how to stop it happening again. Sometimes there’ll be a stand-down meeting for you and your parents to discuss this with the principal.

The principal must immediately tell your parents about the stand-down, the reasons for it, and how long the stand-down is for. You and your parents must also be given information sheets on stand-downs.

Only the principal or acting principal can stand you down. Deputy principals, deans and other teachers can’t do it.

On what grounds can I be stood down from school?

Education Act 1989, s 14(1)

You can only be stood down for:

  • gross misconduct that’s harmful or dangerous to other students, or
  • continual disobedience that’s harmful or dangerous to other students, or
  • behaviour that’s likely to cause serious harm to you or to other students if you’re not stood down.

These are the same grounds as for suspensions, but stand-downs are generally given for less serious types of misbehaviour – most often for continual disobedience, or for assaulting other students, or for abusing teachers. Stand-downs usually happen in secondary schools.

How long can I be stood down for?

Education Act 1989, s 14(2)

Stand-downs are usually for one to three days, but you can be stood down for a maximum of five days in a single school term or a maximum of 10 days in a school year.

You can be stood down more than once, so long as the total days stood down aren’t more than five days in a term or 10 days in a year.

The day you’re stood down, and any non-school days, aren’t counted.

Before the stand-down comes to an end, the principal can decide, for any reason, to shorten it and allow you to return to school.

If I’m stood down, will I be sent home immediately?

The principal can send you home for the rest of the day as soon as they make the stand-down decision, or they can decide that you’ll remain at school until the end of that school day, in which case you have to be supervised. When deciding whether to send you home immediately, the Ministry of Education has advised that principals should consider your age and your parents’ situation.

Stand-down meetings

Education (Stand-Down, Suspension, Exclusion, and Expulsion) Rules 1999, rules 11, 12

If you’re stood down, the principal can call a stand-down meeting. The purpose is to discuss and share information about what led to the problem and what can be done to address your behaviour at school. The principal may also want to discuss what the school will expect of you when you’re back at school.

You or your parents can also ask for a stand-down meeting, and the principal must then arrange one as soon as practicable. At the meeting, you and your parents can provide reasons why you think the stand-down should be lifted or shortened. The principal can decide to cancel the stand-down if they decide it wasn’t in fact justified.

Can I go to school during a stand-down if necessary?

Education Act 1989, s 14(3)

Yes. You or your parents can ask for you to be allowed to attend school for a time for particular reasons – for example, to sit exams, fulfil a course requirement, or have guidance and counselling. If the principal thinks the request is reasonable they must agree to it.

Once the principal agrees to this, you have to go to school at the relevant times, or else you’ll be considered truant.

There may be other situations when you could be allowed on school grounds. Talk to the principal about this – they have to agree to any reasonable request.

What are my rights while I’m stood down?

Education Act 1989, s 17A(1)

You stay on the school roll while you’re stood down, and the principal must make sure you get guidance and counselling.