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When Schools Can Make Rules

When schools can make rules

In every school, there are certain rules that schools require students to obey, e.g. wearing the correct uniform, respecting teachers, not fighting with other students to name a few broad categories.

This section will talk about the rules that public schools can make.

 

Can schools make rules?

Yes. Schools have the power under laws to make rules to help the principal and the board run the school smoothly. They can make rules about most things as long as:

  • It’s within their power to do so (called jurisdiction); AND
  • There is no law saying that they can’t do that (e.g. making a rule that says your teachers can hit you as a punishment at school would not be allowed because another law says it’s illegal to do that).

When does a school have powers to make rules about what I do?

Schools generally have powers to make rules about school matters only; however, there are no clear definitions in the Education Act telling us when something is a personal matter vs a school matter. The line is now even more blurred with the increased use of technology. Some of the indicators of it being a school matter are if it happens:

  • on school grounds
  • within school hours
  • on a school trip/camp
  • while you are representing the school
  • in school uniform
  • during a school day
  • if they can see what you are doing from school
  • involves a number of students at the school

The more of those situations you have, the more likely the school will say it is reasonable for them to discipline you if they think you have acted inappropriately.

When might the school not have power to make rules or discipline you for something?

The school might not have the power to make rules or discipline you when you’re away from school and nothing you’re doing is linked in any way to school or to anyone at school.  The more distant the activity is from school and the less linked to the school the activity is, the more likely the school shouldn’t be able to discipline you for it.

If you’re online, there is a possibility that what you do in your own time can become an issue at school (like cyberbullying), the law is not certain as to whether your school may be able to discipline you and it’ll depend on the circumstances.

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