4. Understand the rules related to school safety

In rare situations, a principal can stop a student from coming to their school if they are worried about other students’ safety.

There are 5 main ways a principal can stop a student from coming to their school:

  1. suspension
  2. expulsion
  3. exclusion
  4. administrative transfer
  5. health protection

Suspensions and expulsions

You are not allowed to attend school while you are suspended or expelled. You may be suspended or expelled if your behaviour creates a safety issue. You may also be suspended for other issues not related to safety.

You have the right to appeal a suspension. You also have the right to a hearing if your principal wants to expel you.


A principal can stop anyone from coming into a school if they think the person might be a risk to the physical or mental health of the students. This is called an “exclusion”.

For example, a principal might exclude a student who tells a teacher in private that he is thinking about bringing a gun to school.

You have the right to appeal an exclusion. Each school board has a different appeal process. You can ask your principal about the appeal process for an exclusion.

A principal should not use their exclusion power in a discipline situation. If the principal thinks your child has a behaviour problem, they should use the discipline powers (such as suspension or expulsion or other less serious discipline).

A principal should not use their exclusion power just because a child:

  • is difficult to teach
  • has a disability or mental health condition
  • is not getting along with other children or teachers
  • has a difficult family situation or is in the care of a children’s aid society

If you are a student who has been excluded, you can call Justice for Children and Youth at 1-866-999-5329 to get free advice from an education lawyer.

Administrative transfers

Sometimes, a school board may force a student to transfer to a different school within the same school board. This is known as an administrative transfer, school transfer, or, in some school boards, a “fresh start”.

The law about school transfers of students is complicated. Some education lawyers think that it is illegal for a student to be forced to transfer schools in certain situations. If you are being forced to transfer schools when you don’t want to, you should contact Justice for Children and Youth at 1-866-999-5329.

Health Protection

A principal can prevent a student from coming to school if the student:

  • is not properly immunized
  • is suspected to have a contagious disease, like COVID-19
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