Principals to see students' criminal records

AN EDUCATION bill allowing principals to see students' criminal charges, as well as convictions, passed Queensland parliament last night with bipartisan support - despite a parliamentary committee recommending the powers be limited.

The Education and Other Legislation Amendment Bill will allow principals request students' charges, before they have been to court, and suspend or expel them if the charges are serious enough.

The charges were questioned by the Queensland Law Society, which said students could be punished before being found guilty.

The laws also mean principals can verbally request "hostile" parties to leave school grounds - before principals had to give people deemed to be dangerous a written note asking them to leave.

Education Minister John Paul Langbroek said principals could request the education department director-general request charges or convictions regarding students from the police commissioner.

"This is a measured, common-sense amendment that is intended to ensure that school principals have the facts to make the right decisions for all members of the school community," he said.

"This is an amendment that relates to serious offences and protecting the best interests of students and staff.

"Murder, attempted murder, rape and arson - these are the sorts of offences that this amendment contemplates."

Labor MP for Stafford Dr Anthony Lynham said the opposition would support the bill, but said they took the QLS concerns seriously and believed the powers should be used "sparingly indeed".

"The most appropriate way to determine if a child charged with a criminal offence is a danger to others is through the youth justice system which already exists," he said.

"That system should consider these factors when deciding whether it is appropriate for a child to be released on bail. If this system is working properly then it should be rare indeed that principals need to consider whether to suspend or exclude a student who is on charges."

- APN NEWSDESK



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