Principals to act on student behaviour outside of school

PRINCIPALS could be entrusted with the power to expel students who dabble in crime, even if it is committed outside school hours and off school grounds.

Proposed law reforms will also give principals greater power over how they discipline poorly-behaving students and widen the grounds for suspension and exclusion.

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek introduced the Education Amendment Bill 2013 in Parliament on Tuesday.

Responding to concerns from principals that current suspension grounds were not wide enough to address bad behaviour in line with community expectation, the bill allows principals to act on student behaviour outside of school.

Students could be suspended if their conduct has, or is likely to, adversely affect other students, school management or if the student's attendance poses an "unacceptable risk" to student or staff safety.

The reforms allow principals to suspend a student if he or she is charged with an offence and it is in the best interests of the school community to keep them out of school while the charge is pending.

Principals can exclude the student if he or she has been convicted and it is not in other student and staff interests to have them enrolled.

Schools will still need to provide suspended students with education plans and comply with departmental policy and procedure.

Rules only allowing after-school and lunchtime detention will change to make way for Saturday detentions.

Mr Langbroek said the greater flexibility for discipline was not about giving principals an easy way out through more detentions or exclusions.

"In fact, I'm expecting that the flexibility in options will actually see a reduction in exclusions because principals will have more scope for finding alternatives appropriate to the individual situation," he said.

"With more power for principals comes higher expectations for how they manage issues within their community."

Suspension periods will also be expanded.