What to do if your child is expelled

Reader's Digest Editors 30 January 2019

More and more children are being suspended or expelled from their schools than ever before—but what can you do if you feel your child has been unjustly expelled? Here's your action plan. 

Find out the facts

Most schools cannot expel a student immediately without first notifying the student's parents and providing them with an opportunity to respond. Here's what you can do:

  • Make an appointment with the head teacher if you feel your child was severely disciplined. 
  • Find out why such action was taken and whether they received any less severe disciplinary punishments before this.


Attend any hearing

The length of expulsion differs. If the punishment is for more than a few days, a disciplinary committee must hold a hearing. The panel will review the charges and determine if the penalty is appropriate. You and your child should go to this hearing. The student should be given the chance to respond to the charges, and you may also be given a chance to speak on their behalf. 

If it is evident that your child feels remorse about what they did, or if it is clear that the punishment is inappropriate given the level of the offence, the hearing panel may reduce the punishment from expulsion to a less severe one, such as limiting or prohibiting participation in extra-curricular activities. 


Appealing your case

You have a right to appeal this decision to the full school board if you are dissatisfied with the results of the hearing. You must request the appeal hearing within a specific time period, usually 30 days. 

Although school-board hearings are less formal than a court proceeding, it may be possible to involve a lawyer or spokesperson at your hearing. In cases where there is a language barrier, a translator may be provided. 

In most cases, the school board will not review the evidence at the appeal hearing. It will consider only whether the student was treated fairly in the earlier proceedings and if the school followed proper procedure in ordering the expulsion. 

In most cases, unless there has been an obvious failure in the original disciplinary hearing, the school board is likely to uphold the decision. However, an appeal may be successful for several reasons:

  • If the student and parents weren't informed of the discipline policies
  • If the expulsion was based on actions unrelated to school activity
  • If the parents weren't given adequate notice of the hearing

If the school board finds in favour of the student, it has several options. It may overrule the expulsion, remand the matter to the committee that ordered the expulsion for reconsideration or reduce the penalty based on its own findings. 


When can your child be expelled?

Because expulsion is such a serious matter, most schools set out specific grounds for expulsion in their school rules. Although these vary from school to school, a child may be expelled if they do any of the following:

  • Deliberately causes or attempts to cause physical injury to another student, a teacher or other school personnel
  • Brings a dangerous object onto school property
  • Possesses, uses, sells or attempts to sell controlled substances or drug paraphernalia on school property
  • Engages in habitual profanity, obscenity or another disruptive behaviour in defiance of the authority of school personnel
  • Commits or attempts to commit a robbery or engages in extortion 
  • Steals or tries to steal school property
  • Possesses alcoholic beverages or is under the influence of alcohol on school property
  • Causes or tries to cause serious damage to school property or the property of other students
  • Engages in sexual harassment of other students or school personnel