SUSPENSION AND EXPULSION POLICY
As required by section 23 (2) of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 there are procedures for suspension and expulsion. All the rules regarding suspension and expulsion are subject to the legal requirements and the various Education Acts.
The procedures are based on the following principles:
1) Right to a fair hearing.
2) Right to be heard.
3) Impartiality in decision making and by the decision maker.
4) If necessary Legal Advice can be sought or the Gardai (e.g. Juvenile Liaison Officer) can be asked for advice especially where allegations of criminal behaviour are made about a about a student.
5) Written records to be kept at all stages and to be open to viewing by relevant people in the school. i.e. Pupil, Parents/Guardian, staff.
6) All policies to be checked by legal advisor.
The various incidents which allows for a student to be suspended are listed through the Code of Behaviour. The system set out in the Code of Behaviour and involves:
1) Written report by the Teacher to Year Head.
2) Investigation by the Year Head which may involve written report and conducting interviews. Written records are to be kept and to be available for inspection by relevant pupil/parents/guardian.
3) Written report to Deputy Principal – Discipline Committee (Deputy Principal & 3 Year Heads) can be called for advice.
4) Where the suspension is automatic (e.g. smoking/vaping) the parents will be informed by phone of the suspensions and will be given the opportunity to come in and meet with the Year Head, Deputy Principal or Principal as appropriate.
5) In other cases, involving more than one day, parents/guardian can be asked to remove their child from the school and they will be invited to meet with the Year Head and /or Deputy Principal and or Principal as appropriate. At this meeting parents & students will have the opportunity to hear the evidence and give a response to the evidence. If all parties are in agreement the issue may be resolved and the suspension will be confirmed and a letter of confirmation will follow.
6) If no agreement is reached then a written appeal can be made by the parents or the student (over18) to the Appeals sub-committee of the Board of Management who will undertake to deal with the matter as quickly as possible. In the event of a successful appeal all references to the incident will be removed from the students file.
7) The Board of Management delegate the power of suspension to the Principal in writing. The principal can delegate the power to suspend a student for up to an including three consecutive school days.
Any suspension for one-three consecutive school days is a decision for the Principal to give and implement.
Any suspension for longer than three days is for the Board of Management to give and implement.
In the event of a full Board of Management meeting not being scheduled, the chairperson can appoint a sub-committee to deal with the issues immediately and inform the Board of Management at the next meeting.
The Board of Management has the sole authority to expel a student having complied with the provisions in Section 24 of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000.
Expulsion is punishment of last resort where every effort will have been made by the school to address the misbehaviour. Grounds for an expulsion include where a student’s behaviour is a persistent cause of disruption to the learning of others or to the teaching process or constitutes a significant threat to the health and safety of staff, pupils and property.
As referred in our Code of Behaviour certain offences will incur an automatic expulsion on the basis of a single breech of the Code, once due process and fair procedures have been followed.
PROCEDURES IN RESPECT OF EXPULSION
Schools are required by law to follow fair procedures as well as procedures prescribed under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, when proposing to expel a student (see 10.3 and 10.4 for information about fair procedures). Where a preliminary assessment of facts confirms serious misbehaviour that could warrant expulsion, the procedural steps will include:
1) A detailed investigation carried out under the direction of the Principal.
2) A recommendation of the Board of Management by the Principal.
3) Consideration by the Board of Management of the Principal’s recommendation; and the holding of a hearing
4) Consultations arranged by the Educational Welfare Office
5) Confirmation of the decision to Expel
These procedures assume that the Board of Management is the decision-making body in relation to the expulsions.
It is a matter for each Board of Management to decide which of the tasks involved in these procedures steps requires separate meeting and which tasks can be accomplished together in a single meeting, consistent with giving parents due notice of the meetings and reasonable time to prepare for the Board hearing.
Step 1: A detailed investigation carried out under the Direction of the Principal
In the investigation an allegation, in line with fair procedures, the Principal should:
- Inform the student and their parents about the details of the alleged misbehaviour, how it will be investigated and that it could result in expulsion/lengthy suspension.
- Give parents and the student every opportunity to respond to the complaint of serious misbehaviour before a decision is made and before a sanction is imposed.
Parents should be informed in writing of the alleged misbehaviour and the proposed investigation in order to have a permanent record of having let them know. This also ensures that parents are very clear what their son or daughter is alleged to have done. It serves the important function of underlining to parent the seriousness with which the school views the alleged misbehaviour.
Parents and students must have every opportunity to respond to the complaint of serious misbehaviour before a decision is made about the veracity of the allegation, and before a sanction is imposed. Where expulsion may result from an investigation, a meeting with the student and their parent is essential. It provides them with an opportunity for them to give their side of the story and to ask questions about the evidence of serious misbehaviour, especially where there is a dispute about the facts. It may also be an opportunity for parents to make their case about lessoning the sanction, and of the school to explore with parents how best to address the student’s behaviour.
If a student and their parents fail to attend a meeting, the Principal should write advising of the gravity of the matter, the importance of attending a re-scheduled meeting and, failing that the duty of the school authorities to decide to make a decision to respond to inappropriate behaviour. The school should record the invitation issued to parents and their response.
Step 2: A recommendation of the Board of Management by the Principal
Where the Principal forms a view, based on the investigation of the alleged misbehaviour, that expulsion may be warranted, the principal makes a recommendation to the Board of Management to consider expulsion. The Principal should:
- Inform the parents and the student that the Board of Management is being asked to consider expulsion/lengthy suspension.
- Ensure that the parents have records of allegations against the student, the investigation; and written notice of the grounds on which the Board of Management is being asked to consider the expulsion.
- Provide the Board of Management with the same comprehensive records as given to the parents
- Notify the parents of the date of the hearing by the Board of Management and invite them to that hearing.
- Advise the parents that they can make a written and oral submission to the Board of Management.
- Ensure that parents have enough notice to allow them to prepare for the hearing.
Step 3: Consideration of the Board of Management of the Principal’s recommendation; and the holding of the hearing
It is the responsibility of the Board to review the initial investigation and satisfy itself that the investigation was properly conducted in line with fair procedures. The Board should undertake its own review of all documentation and the circumstances of the case. It should ensure that no party who has had any involvement with the circumstances of the case is part of the Board’s deliberations (or example, a member of the Board who may have made allegations about a student).
Where a Board of Management decides to consider expelling a student, it must hold a hearing. The Board meeting for the purpose of the hearing should be properly conducted in accordance with Board procedures. At the hearing, the Principal and the parents, or a student eighteen years or over, put their case to the Board in each other’s presence. Each party should be allowed to question the evidence of the other party directly. The meeting may also be an opportunity for parents to make their case for lessening the sanction. In the conduct of the hearing, the Board must take care to ensure that they are, and are seen to be, impartial as between the Principal and the student. Parents may wish to be accompanied at hearings and the Board should facilitate this, in line with good practice and Board procedures.
After both sides have been heard, the Board should ensure that the principal and the parents are not present for the Board’s deliberations.
Step 4: Board of Management deliberations and actions following the hearing
Having heard from all the parties, it is the responsibility of the Board to decide whether or not the allegation is substantiated and, if so, whether or not expulsion is appropriate sanction.
Where the Board of Management, having considered all the facts of the case, is of the opinion that the student should be expelled, the Board must notify the Educational Welfare Officer in writing of its opinion. (Education (Welfare) Act 2000, s24(1)). The Board of Management should refer to National Educational Welfare Board reporting procedures of proposed expulsions. The student cannot be expelled before the passage of twenty school days from the date which the EWO received written notification (Education (Welfare) Act 2000, s24(1)).
An appeal against the expulsion under section 29 of the Education Act 1998 will automatically succeed if it is shown that the educational Welfare Officer was not notified in accordance with section 24(1) or that twenty days did not elapse from the time of notification to the Educational Welfare officer to the implementation of the expulsion (Education (Misc Provisions) Act 2007, s4A). The Board should inform the parent in writing about its conclusions and the next steps in the process. Where expulsion is proposed, the parents should be told that the Board of Management will now inform the Educational Welfare Officer.
Step 5: Consultation arranged by the Educational Welfare Officer
Within twenty days of receipt of a notification from the Board of Management of its opinion that student should be expelled, the Educational Welfare Officer must:
- Make all reasonable efforts to hold individual consultations with the principal, the parents and the student, and anyone else who may be of assistance.
- Convene a meeting of those parties who agree to attend (Education (Welfare) Act 2000, s24).
The purpose of the consultations and the meeting is to ensure that arrangements are made for the student to continue in education. These consultations may result in an agreement about an alternative intervention that would avoid expulsion. However, where the possibility of continuing in the school is not an option, at least in the short term, the consultation should focus on alternative educational possibilities.
In the interest of the educational welfare of the student, those concerned should come together with the Educational Welfare Officer to plan for the student’s future education.
Pending this consultation about the students continued education, a Board of Management may take steps to ensure that good order is maintained and that safety of students is secured (Education (Welfare) Act 2000, s24(5)). A Board may consider it appropriate to suspend a student during this time. Suspension should only be considered where there is a likelihood that the continued presence of the student during the time will seriously disrupt the learning of others, or represent a threat to the safety of other students or staff.
Step 6: Confirmation of the decision to expel
Where the twenty- day period following notification to the Educational Welfare Officer has elapsed, and where the Board of Management remains of the view that the student should be expelled, the Board of Management should formally confirm the decision to expel (this task may be delegated to the Chairperson or the Principal). Parents and the student should be told about the right to appeal and supplied with the standard form on which to log lodge an appeal. A formal record should be made of the decision to expel the student.
A parent, or a student aged over eighteen years, may appeal a decision to expel to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science (Education Act 1998 Section 29). An appeal may also be brought by the National Educational Welfare Board on behalf of the student.
The Appeals Process
The appeals process under section 29 of the Education Act 1198 begins with the provision of mediation by the mediator nominated by the Appeals Committee (Department of Education & Science). For further details about the Appeals process, including requirements for documentation, and the steps in the process, refer to current DES guidance.
REVIEW OF USE OF EXPULSION
The Board of Management should review the use of expulsion in the school at regular intervals to ensure that its use is consistent with school policies, patterns of use are examined to identify factors that may be influencing behaviour in the school, and to ensure that expulsion is used appropriately.
KEY REQUIREMENTS: EXPULSION
Applying the Guidelines means:
Having a policy on, and procedures for, expulsion that are approved by the Board of Management, and in line with these Guidelines, and with any additional requirements set down by the patron
- Ensuring that the Policy is widely communicated
- Developing and documenting good practice in the use of expulsion
- Having fair procedures for informing parents and students about their right to appeal
- Having a system for regular review by the Board of Management of the use of expulsion in the school.