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School Suspension Support Wellington Team Launched

School Suspension Support Wellington Team Launched

The Wellington Community Justice Project is excited to announce the launch of its new Suspension Support Wellington team today, charged with supporting suspended school children and their families.

The launch follows the success of last year’s pilot program which received glowing reviews from clients. With a bigger programme in place, the team is looking forward to helping more suspended children get a fairer deal, particularly in light of recent media attention given to so-called 'kiwi suspensions' and other concerns raised by groups such as YouthLaw.

“The proper suspension process is designed with the best outcomes in mind for both families and schools,” says Giancarlo Salizzo, co-leader of the Project’s Advocacy team. “Unfortunately, that process isn’t always followed and it is children and their families who can end up suffering as a result.”

The free service provides parents with legal information and advocacy to guide them through the complex disciplinary process. It is managed in partnership with Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley, which provides training and quality assurance. Families make initial contact with the advocacy team through Community Law’s nationwide Parents Legal Information Line (PLINFO) service on 0800 499 488.

“Parents want to help their kids, but that can be hard to do when they don’t understand the process,” says Mr Salizzo. “We make sure that parents know what is going on, that children’s rights are respected and that hearings are conducted properly.”

“Eventually we want to work with schools that will refer parents directly to us whenever a child is suspended. This would be a great way for them to meet their legal obligations and to ensure that the process goes smoothly and fairly for everyone involved.

“Our team is very well-trained in the relevant education law and well-placed to make parents feel a lot more comfortable in hearings, and ensure that the process is manageable for schools.

“It is very exciting to be launching this project and getting to work on behalf of suspended children and their families,” Mr Salizzo concludes.

The Wellington Community Justice Project is run by law students at Victoria University of Wellington with the aim of improving access to legal services in the wider community.


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