Questions raised about proposed school suspension laws

"The Labor opposition has raised concerns about how violent or radicalised students will be monitored after their removal from schools under proposed changes to suspension policies.

The changes, which will be introduced to Parliament this week, will allow for students who "pose a threat to safety" to be "prohibited from attending school until the risk to health and safety posed by that student can be assessed", Education Minister Rob Stokes says.

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said proposed changes to the Education Act are "a sensible solution to dealing with modern day problems".
The new laws will apply to students who have committed violent or other serious crimes, including cyberbullying, supported terrorism or are deemed a potential risk to students or staff, "even if that conduct occurred outside school grounds or school hours".

"The main aim of the changes is to close gaps in existing legislation that mean there are limited powers to remove students that pose a threat," according to the statement.

However, Labor's education spokesman Jihad Dib said he has "a number of questions" about the legislation, including who will be responsible for monitoring the students while they are removed from school.

"You don't want antisocial kids in school but who's actually keeping an eye on the kids?" Mr Dib asked.

"I'd want to know what the police have to say about it. A more cynical reading of it could be an inference that they're looking to expel kids without expelling them."

Mr Dib said extending the government's voluntary School Communities Working Together program, which aims to equip families and school communities to address early instances of antisocial behaviour, could better support students.

"That identifies and quickly supports students experiencing antisocial behaviour, it would stop kids from getting to that point," Mr Dib said.

Mr Dib said he will be seeking more information on the government's Education Amendment (School Safety) Bill.

"It's a sensible solution to dealing with modern day problems that were not anticipated when the Education Act was drafted almost 30 years ago," Mr Stokes said of the proposed legislation.

"The measures in this bill are being put in place to uphold the public's expectation that schools remain safe, secure and collegial environments for students and staff.

"These are common sense changes to the Education Act that bring us into line with other jurisdictions."

The bill was drafted following consultation with Family and Community Services and the Advocate for Children and Young People, according to Mr Stokes' statement.

"There will also be provisions under the legislation to develop risk management strategies that will enable a student to attend school," according to the statement.

The minister's office did not respond to questions about how long students will be removed from school or the process for determining which students meet the criteria for suspension under the new laws."