What is Expulsion?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2019
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Expulsion is a disciplinary tool which is used by some academic institutions. It involves banning a student from the school for a set period of time which depends on the severity of the offense; expulsion usually lasts at least one term, and it is sometimes permanent. Rules about expulsion vary around the world, but as a general rule, students may only be expelled for serious violations of a school's honor code or student policies. Many nations require schools to provide these policies to students to ensure that students are aware of what is expected of them.

Some common grounds for expulsion include: cheating, stealing, drug use, racial threats, severe harassment, bringing a weapon to school, violence towards other students, and repeated misbehavior. Generally, students must be warned before they can be expelled, with each school having a complicated process for expulsions, to ensure that the process is carried out fairly and to protect the rights of both students and the school. An expulsion will go on a student's permanent record, and in some countries, schools have the right to refuse students who have been repeatedly expelled.


For an offense like bringing a weapon to school, a student may be immediately suspended, meaning that he or she will be asked to stay out of school for a few days while the student's case is evaluated. If the school believes that the case is grounds for expulsion, the student will be notified of an expulsion hearing, at which the student and his or her representatives meet with the school to discuss the issue. In some cases, a neutral third party oversees the hearing to make sure that the expulsion is justified.

In the instance of something like harassment and threats, a student will typically be warned at the first incident, and he or she may be written up. Many schools also ask students to meet with counselors after such incidents to discuss why the incident happened and to prevent it from happening again. After a second offense, the student may be suspended or placed on academic probation, with a warning that additional offenses may result in expulsion.

There is some controversy about expulsion as a punishment technique. Some people feel that problem students would be better served by intensive meetings and an effort on the part of the school and its staff to address the problems that the student is having. Other people argue that not all school districts have the resources to care for problem students fairly and humanely, and that expulsion may provide an incentive to find a school which is a better fit for the student. Unfortunately, however, students who are expelled multiple times may find themselves unable to enroll anywhere, and expulsion curtails their educational opportunities as a result.


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