Student Rights

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Trespass: Being banned from school grounds

Can I be ordered off school grounds?

Trespass Act 1980, ss 3-5

Any occupier of a property, or one of their employees, can legally order a person to leave and stay off the property, and this means that the school principal, or a board member or any staff member probably has the authority to do this. Other people – another parent, for example – won’t have the legal authority to do this.

There are two kinds of trespass notices, warnings to leave and warnings to stay off. Both kinds can be given either verbally or in writing. They don’t have to follow a set form or use a set form of words.

Being warned to leave

Trespass Act 1980, s 3

If you’ve warned to leave you must leave the school grounds immediately. If you refuse, this is a criminal offence. However, once you leave, you’re free to return later, unless you’ve also been given a warning to stay off.

Being warned to stay off

Trespass Act 1980, s 4

A warning to stay off bans you from returning to the school for two years. If you do come back within that time, it’s a criminal offence.

Russell v Police (1981) 1 NZCPR 349

If the school intends to warn you to stay off rather than simply warning you to leave, they should be clear that this is what they mean. If they simply say “You have to leave”, this probably isn’t enough to ban you from returning to the school for two years. It is best if they advise you in writing, but they could also say something like: “You must leave and you are not welcome back.”

What are the penalties for breaching the trespass laws?

Trespass Act 1980, ss 3, 4, 11(2)(a)

If you’re convicted in court of staying on the school grounds after being warned to leave, or of coming back to the school within two years after being warned to stay off, you can be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to three months.

However, you won’t be convicted if it was necessary for you to be on the school grounds because there some emergency, or for your own protection or to protect someone else.