Exclusion & Expulsion Policy - OLSS Belmullet

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Exclusion & Expulsion Policy


Suspension & Exclusion Policy


Through its Code of Behaviour Our Lady’s Secondary School aims to create a calm, ordered and work-oriented atmosphere in a caring and supportive environment based on respect for self and respect for others.

For the purposes of this policy:

 Suspension is considered to be the withdrawal of permission from a pupil to attend school for a specified period of time while,
 Expulsion is considered to be the permanent exclusion of a student from this school.


This Policy applies to all of our pupils:

 During the school day
 While on school related activities


Our rationale for this policy is as follows:

1. To satisfy the legislative requirements associated with:
 Sections 15(2)(d) and 28(1) of the Education Act, 1998.
 Sections 23 and 24 of the education (Welfare) Act, 2000.
 Section 7(2)(d) Equal Status Act.
2. To provide a transparent framework for the fair application of the sanctions of suspension and expulsion.


This policy document will be subject to a bi-annual review by the students, parents/guardians and the Board of Management.


Our objectives are to:

 Set out clearly how to deal with a suspension or an expulsion without impugning the rights of an individual pupil
 Promote good behaviour and to show disapproval of unacceptable behaviour
 Afford all of our pupils a safe environment
 Encourage an environment in which all pupils can learn.

Suspension Principles:

In certain cases of unacceptable behaviour it will be in the best interests of the school community and/or the pupil involved to remove the pupil from the school for a period of time.  Under the Articles of Management for Secondary Schools the Principal has the authority to suspend a pupil from attending school for a period up to and including 3 days.  Suspensions beyond 3 days are the responsibility of the Board of Management.  The Principal/Board of Management will exercise this authority in a fair and non-discriminatory manner having regard to their responsibility to the whole school community and to the principles of natural justice.

The primary purpose of suspension is one of corrective support rather than punishing pupils for misbehaviour.  It is the intention of the school that suspension allows pupils the time, under the supervision of their parent/guardians to reflect on their unacceptable behaviour; accept responsibility for the behaviour that led to the suspension and to change their future behaviour to meet the expectations of the school.

In general there are two sets of circumstances under which suspension will be imposed:

1. Serious breaches of the Code of Behaviour that indicate that the pupil should be removed from the school.  In cases where health and safety could be a risk it may be necessary to suspend a student with immediate effect pending an investigation and the following of due procedures.
2. Repeated less serious beaches of the Code of behaviour that have not been specified by disciplinary measures short of suspension.  In such cases formal written warning detailing the unacceptable behaviour will have been submitted to parents/guardians along with an explanation of what is required of the pupil.

Policy Content:

1. The authority to suspend is vested in the Principal or in the absence of the Principal the Acting Principal. Subject to the right of the parents/guardians (or a pupil who is 18 years or more) to appeal to the Board of Management.
2. The period of suspension shall be proportionate to the breaches of the School Code of Behaviour.

Suspension Procedure:

In event that the Principal exercises his authority to suspend a pupil for a fixed duration, the following procedure will be used:

1. The pupil will be informed of the precise grounds that gave rise to a potential suspension and will be given an opportunity to respond before a suspension decision is formalised.
2. The parents/guardians of the pupil will be informed in writing of the situation and asked to come to the school for a meeting.
3. In cases where the suspension is to take effect immediately, such as in the interests of health and safety, parents/guardians will be informed by telephone with written follow-up.
4. Pupils will not be sent home during a school day unless collected by a parent/guardian or some other suitable arrangement is made.  All suspension decisions will include a formal letter of notification that will include at least:

 Notice of the suspension
 Effective date of the suspension
 Duration of the suspension
 Reasons for the suspension.

Where appropriate, this letter may also include some or all of the following:

 Expectations of the pupil while on suspension.
 Reference to the importance of parental assistance in resolving the matter causing suspension.
 A statement that the pupil is under the care and responsibility of parents/guardians while suspended.
 A statement that the Education Welfare board has been informed of the suspension.
 Information of the appeal rights and procedures regarding the suspension.
 Requirements to be met for the pupil’s return to school i.e. to report to the office.

Suspension Removal:

As the principles of natural justice demand that there should be available a right of appeal to a higher authority, a pupil or his parents/guardians may appeal the Principals’ decision to suspend to the Board of Management. However, the school may insist that the pupil remain at home while the appeal proceeds.  In the event that an appeal is successful, the suspension will be lifted and if the suspension has already been served, it will be expunged from the pupil’s record.

An appeal of a suspension decision may also be made under Section 29 of the Education Act where a student has been suspended for 20 days or more.  Information regarding this right of appeal will be provided with formal notification of the suspension, if applicable.

Beyond success in such appeals, a suspension may be rescinded in the following circumstances:

 New circumstances come to light after the suspension has been applied that would have mitigated the sanction had they been known beforehand.
 Other mitigating factors consistent with the application of the principles of the natural justice.

Appeal to the Board of Management:

1. A parent/guardian has 7 days in which to lodge an appeal.  If the pupil appealing suspension is 18 years or older he or she may appeal in their own right.
2. The grounds for the appeal must be made in writing.
3. The appeal will be considered at the next Board meeting, part of which the parents/guardians can attend at a specific time subject to giving two days notice of their intention to attend the meeting.
4. At the Board meeting, the Principal will outline the reasons for their recommendation.
5. The parents’ appeal is then heard by written submission and/or orally.
6. The Principal may take no further part in the discussion other than to clarify matters raised in the parents/guardians’ appeal. The Principal and parents (if present) leave.
7. The Board makes its decision and communicates it to the parent/guardian.

Suspension Completion:

Upon completion of a suspension, the following procedures may apply for the formal reintroduction of the pupil into the school:

 Parents may be requested to attend with the pupil upon his/her return to school.
 A written or verbal apology may be required for the pupil for his misbehaviour.
 The pupil may be required to enter into a contract of good behaviour or other conditions that may be specified before returning to school.

Exclusion Principles:

Exclusion is the ultimate sanction imposed by the school on a pupil and as such, will only be exercised by the Board of Management in relation to cases of extreme indiscipline.  In cases where the Principal judges that a pupil’s actions are such that exclusion should be considered, the Principal will refer the matter to the Board of Management.  Given the severity of the potential sanction, the school, in accordance with the principles of natural justice, will investigate extreme indiscipline cases thoroughly in advance of any hearing that could result in exclusion.

In general, there are two sets of circumstances in which exclusion may be considered to be appropriate by the school:

1. Cases where the in-discipline of a pupil is so pervasive that teaching and learning becomes extremely difficult.  Such cases include but are not limited to:

 The pupil being so disruptive that he is seriously preventing other pupils from learning.
 The pupil being uncontrollable and not amenable to any form of school discipline or authority.
 Parents/guardians being unable or refusing to exercise their responsibility for the pupil.
 The pupil being a danger to himself or to others.
 When guarantees of reasonable behaviour following repeated suspensions are not forthcoming or not being met.
 The pupil’s conduct acting as a source of serious bad example and having an adverse influence on other pupils in the school.

2. First offences of a very serious nature.  Such cases include but are not limited to:

 Serious assault
 Trafficking in drugs
 Arriving in school under the influence of alcohol or drugs
 Serious burglary or theft
 Causing major damage to school property
 Gross insubordination to the Principal or other staff members
 Brandishing of an offence weapon.

In the interest of ensuring a fair and even-handed system for the imposition of exclusion, the Board of Management will, among other things, take account of the following factors in determining an exclusion:

1. The age and state of health of the pupil.
2. The pupil’s previous record of behaviour at the school.
3. Any mitigating circumstances unique to the pupil that might reasonably be taken into account in connection with the behaviour leading the suspension.
4. The degree to which parents, peer, or other pressure might have contributed to the behaviour.
5. The severity of the behaviour, its frequency and the likelihood of recurrence.
6. The extent to which the behaviour impaired or will impair the normal functioning of the pupil and others in the school community.
7. The degree to which the behaviour was a breach of the code of Behaviour.
8. Whether the incident leading to the suspension was a result of the pupil acting alone or as part of a group.
9. The degree to which the pupil recognises and accepts that his behaviour was unacceptable and is prepared to exhibit genuine contrition.

Exclusion Procedure:

Except in exceptional circumstances, exclusion will only be resorted to after the Principal has:

 Ensured that all discipline options under the Code of Behaviour have been applied and documented.
 Ensured that all appropriate support personnel, both internal and external have been involved.
 Ensured all other procedures, referrals, supports have been exhausted.
 Ensured that discussion has occurred with the pupil and parents/guardians regarding specific misbehaviour that the school considers unacceptable and that may lead to permanent exclusion.
 Provided formal verbal and written warnings at appropriate times dealing with such behaviours and provided clear expectations of what was required of the pupil in the future.
 Recorded all action taken and copied all correspondence.
 Informed the parents/guardians of the intention to recommend exclusion to the Board of Management.
 Invited the parents/guardians to the Board of Management hearing.
 Invited the parents/guardians to make a written submission in advance of the Board meeting.
 Provided in advance the parents/guardians with a full, written description of the allegations against the pupil and the case being made to the Board, together with copies of all documentation, statements and other materials supporting the case.  Made a formal recommendation to the Board with full supporting documentation following these actions by the Principal, exclusion will still only occur after the Board of Management has:
• Heard the Principal’s case against the pupil, which should be made in the presence of the parents/guardians
• Heard the response of the parents/guardians
• Examined all the documentation
• Considered the pupil’s record in the school
• Ensured that the Principal is not present for the Boards’ decision on the matter
• Discussed the case in detail
• Considered all the commitments made in the Code of Behaviour
• Made a final decision to exclude
• Communicated the decision to exclude to the parents/guardians formally by registered letter
• Informed the Education Welfare Officer under Section 24 (1) of the Education Welfare Act, 2000.

The formal letter of notification will include:

 Notice of the exclusion
 Effective date of the exclusion
 Reasons for the exclusion
 A statements that the Education Welfare Board has been informed of the exclusion
 A statement that the pupil is under the care and responsibility of the parents/guardians for the period of 20 days required by the Education Welfare Officer to examine alternative provisions for the education of the pupil
 Information and documentation on Appeal rights.

Exclusion Appeals:

Parents/guardians have the right to appeal a decision of the Board of Management to exclude a student to the minister for Education or to an authority delegated for such appeals by the Minister under Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998.

Permanent exclusion may be appealed by a parent/guardian, by a student (over 18 years of age), or by the National Education Welfare Board.  Any such appeal must be lodged within 42 calendar days of the decision of the Board of Management.

Sanctioned by Board & CEIST 10-04-2008

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