THE number of students expelled from Riverina schools has skyrocketed from two to 20 in two years, new NSW Education Department data has revealed.
The jump in expulsions coincided with an increase in those students suspended from Albury schools and the district that runs from Mulwala to Jingellic.
There were 149 Riverina students suspended in 2012 for more than four days, an increase on 138 in 2011 and 133 in 2010.
The data did not reveal the number of expulsions in Albury and district.
The results also reveal most students were being suspended for physical violence and persistent misbehaviour.
EDITORIAL: High expulsion rate not the full picture
Public Schools NSW director for Albury, Peter Smith, said the figures were not a reflection of worse behaviour but of schools taking steps to provide greater safety.
“It’s a small number when you think about how many students there are,” Mr Smith said.
Although students had been expelled, Mr Smith said it did not mean they were excluded from the system.
“Just because they are expelled from one school doesn’t mean we wipe our hands of them,” he said.
“The department works with students and families to find a suitable alternative.
“If they are expelled from one school, they might be able to go to another school, a behavioural school or TAFE.
“We have a responsibility to find an education avenue for each student.”
One Border parent yesterday said he did not believe the rise in suspensions and expulsions reflected problems in public schools.
“I think you get truancy and people misbehaving in all schools,” Philip Evans said.
Pam McMillan said she supported suspension and expulsion as punishment.
“There should be more of it,” she said.
“I’m not surprised there are more kids being suspended when you see the way they sometimes react to situations and how agitated they can get.”
Ms McMillan said students were given too many chances.
Joanne Moir said she was confident suspension kept her children and others students safe.
“There needs to be discipline for action,” she said.
“I think in-school suspension is a better idea because it’s less like a holiday.”
Mr Smith said suspensions were not an easy way out for students.
“They are given work to do, which their teachers follow-up,” he said.
“It’s done that way so teachers have time to put measures in place to better accommodate them.
“It’s better to take action to assist students to modify behaviour than do nothing.”