Tauranga Boy's College acted unlawfully in expelling and excluding international students caught smoking marijuana outside of schools grounds and time, the High Court has ruled.

Justice Rebecca Ellis yesterday released her decision refusing the school's application for a judicial review of the decision made by the International Education Appeal Authority.

The three pupils excluded from Tauranga Boys' College for smoking marijuana did so outside of school grounds and time.

This means the school has no power to suspend under education law but the school argues the trio - German exchange pupils - were kicked out of class because they breached a contract with the college.


The issue began in March 2014, when five boys used the drug one of them had acquired.

Three were excluded from class, something the International Education Appeal Authority criticised.

Justice Ellis said there was no error in the International Education Appeal Authority's findings and said the college "acted unlawfully in expelling [student] L and excluding [student] E on the grounds of gross misconduct".

The contracts between the school and the boys' parents could not "override the Act or give Tauranga Boys' College the right to terminate (and effectively to expel and exclude) on grounds that were inconsistent with the act", she wrote in her decision.

She conceded that the authority did breach natural justice by failing to give the school the chance to respond to its findings before releasing its decision but said there was no merit in any of the other grounds of review.