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Expulsions are last resort

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 09:00 02/08/2014

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More could be done for the troublemakers turfed out of Manawatu schools, according to parents and students.

But principals say punitive actions, which follow other restorative steps, are often the last resort used to deal with rebelling students.

The more severe consequences are to ensure students are not a danger to themselves and others, they say.

The percentage of students sent out of school for misbehaving in Manawatu-Whanganui last year was in the top three in the country, whether for disobedience, drugs or alcohol offences or assaults, Ministry of Education statistics issued this week reveal.

A former Freyberg High School student, who was expelled this year for smoking marijuana on a school bus, had grievances with how the school "followed all the wrong processes for dealing with problems", citing discrepancies and "double standards" at the school. He is calling for more help for struggling students.

"It was a lot of hassle for me and my parents trying to get me into another school and trying to say I'm a worthy student who deserves a second chance, which I am." This year a number of Freyberg's senior leaders were caught drinking on school grounds, out of school time, and were stood down, principal Peter Brooks confirmed. Every student's case was looked at in context and was judged by a disciplinary committee on its merits, but Brooks said the school worked hard to ensure a "fair and just" process involving parents and pupils was followed.

Palmerston North Boys' High School has excluded two students, both aged under 16, for continual disobedience, and suspended five this year.

"The public sometimes have this impression that we just want to kick students out and wash our hands of them, but that's not the case at all," rector David Bovey said. "We want to help these kids have the best educational experience they can."

The school had a disciplinary case taken to the High Court at Wellington this year after a mother challenged her son's expulsion for smoking marijuana during school hours - he was dressed in uniform, but not on school grounds.

Police caught the boy, then 16, smoking marijuana with a group of other students in December.

He was suspended and subsequently expelled by the board of trustees' disciplinary committee. A judge dismissed an application for a judicial review, saying he was satisfied with the board's decision and ordered the mother to pay part of the school's $25,220 legal bill.

The mother had suggested her son be subjected to random drug-testing instead of being suspended.

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DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS

Stand-down: Student removed from school for five days per term, or total of 10 days per year.

Suspension: The removal of a student until the board decides to lift the suspension, extend it, or terminate enrolment.

Exclusion: For a student, aged under 16, enrolment is terminated, with the requirement that the student enrols elsewhere.

Expulsion: For a student, aged 16 or over, enrolment is terminated and the student may or may not enrol at another school. 

- Manawatu Standard

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