Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide a summary and general overview only. It is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, legal advice. You should seek legal advice from a barrister or solicitor working in the area of unfair suspensions and expulsions before acting or relying on any of its content.

Has my son or daughter been unfairly suspended or expelled from school?

The right of a school or college – whether public or private – to suspend or expel a student is not absolute. School discipline must comply with principles of procedural fairness (also known as natural justice or due process). The Department of Education’s policies, as well as the law more generally, state that procedural fairness has two elements:

Procedural fairness is a basic right of all when dealing with authorities. Procedural fairness refers to what are sometimes described as the 'hearing rule' and the right to an 'unbiased decision'.

The 'hearing rule' includes the right of the person against whom an allegation has been made to:

  • know the allegations related to a specific matter and any other information which will be taken into account in considering the matter

  • know the process by which the matter will be considered

  • respond to the allegations

  • know how to seek a review of the decision made in response to the allegations.

The ‘right to an unbiased decision’ includes the right to

  • impartiality in an investigation and decision-making

  • an absence of bias by a decision-maker.

From time to time, schools or colleges move far too swiftly to measures such as suspension or expulsion, and it is important to understand your rights and obligations as a parent in this regard.

By Sebastian De Brennan, Barrister,

© 2017 Sebastian De Brennan. Barrister at Law