Schoolyard blues could be heard in court

By Taylah Eastwell

Victorian schools may soon have the power to ban aggressive and violent parents from entering school grounds, with new laws being considered in parliament.

Minister for Education James Merlino introduced the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Protection of School Communities) Bill on Tuesday 4 May, which would effectively give school principals the power to issue School Community Safety Orders to parents, carers and other people who engage in harmful, threatening or abusive behaviour in school environments.

The new laws will also allow schools to ban parents that engage in inappropriate behaviour through social media and other channels, with schools able to impose requirements on the way parents interact with the wider school community – including by stopping them from entering school grounds.

Schools must ensure people issued with orders are still able to communicate with the school and remain informed about the child’s education.

The changes will build on existing legislation and aim to provide greater procedural fairness to parents, carers and other adult members of the school community.

Avenues for review of orders will include an internal merits review and an external review at VCAT if the parent or carer doesn’t agree with the internal outcome.

Failure to comply with a School Community Safety Order can result in a court appearance, with the Magistrates Court able to issue an order requiring compliance, a fine of up to $9,913.20 or any other order the court deems appropriate.

The Bill is said to form part of a broader strategy targeting the “small minority” of parents, carers and other members of school communities who engage in inappropriate behaviour.

Minister for Education and Monbulk MP James Merlino said “no one should be threatened or intimidated at work or at school – that’s why we’re introducing these new laws to protect staff, students and their families”.

“These vital new measures will empower our senior school leaders to take necessary actions when inappropriate behaviour is being levelled towards people in the school community,” he said.