Whānau and schools
Can I be banned from school grounds?
Yes. There are two kinds of trespass notices:
- warnings to leave
- warnings to stay off.
Both kinds can be given either verbally or in writing. They don’t have to follow a set form or use a set form of words.
The school principal a board member, or any staff member can ask you to leave. Other people (another parent, for example) don’t have the legal authority to do this.
Being warned to leave
If you’ve been warned to leave you must leave the school grounds immediately. If you refuse, this is a criminal offence. However, once you leave, you’re free to return later, unless you’ve also been given a warning to stay off.
Being warned to stay off
A warning to stay off bans you from returning to the school for two years. If you do come back within that time, it’s a criminal offence.
Russell v Police (1981) 1 NZCPR 349.
- If the school intends to ‘warn you to stay off’, rather than just wanting you to leave school grounds, they should be clear that this is what they mean.
- If they simply say “you have to leave”, this probably isn’t clear enough to ban you from going into the school for two years.
- It’s best if they tell you in writing, but they could also say something like: “You must leave and you are not welcome back.”
What are the legal consequences for breaking the trespass laws?
You can be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for up to three months if you’re convicted in court of:
- staying on the school grounds after being warned to leave, or
- coming back to the school within two years after being warned to stay off.
You won’t be convicted if you needed to be on the school grounds because there was an emergency, or you or someone else needed protection.