Students: various

What disciplinary or behaviour management ability does the school have in relation to students outside of school hours?

While the scope of school jurisdiction has not been tested in the New Zealand courts it is clear that the core role of any school is education and that a school’s relationship with a child or young person relates to their role as a student rather than as a community member.

Generally students are not considered to be within the jurisdiction of the board or principal outside of school time and off the school site.

There are specific cases, such as a school run event, where it is clear that the school will have the ability to discipline students or manage their behaviour outside of the normal school day or off the school site.

Deciding if an outside incident or issue is a school issue

Asking yourself how an incident or issue is connected to the student’s role as a student, rather than as a young person in the community, may help you decide that an incident or issue is a school issue. There may also be cases where you decide that an issue or incident is best left to others in the community to deal with.

In other cases an incident in the community may have a flow on effect into the school. You can of course investigate issues such as bragging or bullying which do occur in the school and tackle these even if elements of a situation occurred well outside the school’s jurisdiction (e.g. an incident at a party in the weekend).

However asserting general jurisdiction over your students at all times or acting simply because the school’s reputation may be harmed by a student’s actions in the community are not safe approaches to take.

If an outside incident or issue is not clear cut, or is a community matter

If a situation is not immediately clear cut, or you have any concerns that others may not see a situation in the way you do, it is always wise to seek more specific information or advice from the NZSTA help desk. The helpdesk can help you to sort out your facts and help you form your reasons for your position on a matter.

Many issues which occur in the wider community may be best left to the community to manage and, if necessary, the Police to deal with.

On occasion you may come under community pressure to parent or police students’ private lives. In such cases explaining the role of the school within the community to community members may help clarify any mistaken assumptions.

Your school can of course be involved in promoting positive behaviours and work with others, such as a local council or the Police, on community initiatives. This does not mean the school must take charge over or assert jurisdiction over their students.

It is also important that any situation is investigated with due care which should be proportionate to the seriousness of the situation and the seriousness of the action the school may take against a student.

Updated: October 2011

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