No parents want to learn that their child is suspended or expelled from either a private or a public school. In this episode of Real Estate 101: The Home Buying & Selling Show, Host and Producer Joe Terceira and Family Lawyer John Schuman continue their discussion about education law and explain what options parents have if their child gets suspended or expelled.
Can You Do Anything if Your Child is Suspended or Expelled From School?
Yes, but it depends on whether your child is in a public or private school. If your child is in a public school, you can do a number of things to reverse the school’s decision regarding your child. Public schools typically have a lot of rules and regulations regarding dealing with this.
However, if the child is suspended or expelled from a private school, it all depends on the contract you signed with that school, especially the “Code of Conduct” that is included into the contract.
What Does it Take for a Child to Get Suspended or Expelled From School?
Every child in Ontario has the right to attend a publicly funded education institution. This means if the child is suspended or expelled from the public school, that right is taken away and that can’t be done without a very serious reason. For suspension this includes bullying, having drugs or alcohol in school, threatening someone with bodily harm and so on. On the other hand, expulsion is reserved for a very serious crime such as sexual assaults, hate crimes or repeated bullying and only the board of trustees (so not even the principal) has the right to expel a child from school.
These things need to be committed on school property or during a school-related activity. A child can’t get suspended or expelled for something done outside school. Furthermore, there are several mitigating factors that need to be taken into account, such as the child’s age (can they be fully aware that their action was wrong), any special needs the child has, can this be the result of the student being harassed and more.
What Options do Parents Have?
Even then, parents can appeal to the school board and ask that their child does not get suspended or expelled from school. As for expulsion itself, the parent should always speak to the lawyer before they agree to an expulsion.
Basically, a board hearing is similar to a court trial. A group of trustees will sit as judges, with the principal and their lawyer one one side and the parents of the expelled child (with their lawyer) on the other. Both sides can then present their case, call witnesses, based on which the board will make a decision – whether to expelled a student or not.
The board can decide to expel a student from that school or from the entire board. They can also only suspend the student for a certain number of days, which then goes in the student’s OSR record (Ontario School Record). Finally, the board can decide that no punishment is necessary.
If the student gets expelled from school, they can no longer attend a “normal” school. However, boards are required to run special programs for expelled students. These are usually schools with programs designed specifically for expelled students.
The parents can, if they don’t agree with the board’s decision, appeal to the Child and Family Services Review Board. This is a tribunal of experts in education and other children’s issues assembled by the Ontario government to hear appeals regarding school boards and Children’s Aid Societies.
Can the Principal Still Expel a Student, Outside the Board’s Decision?
For a behaviour problem, there is nothing the principal can do to get the student expelled from school. The only way to get the student out of their home school is if the child has any special needs that the school can’t accommodate. This requires asking the school board to move that student, which involves doing an IPRC, an identification and placement process that identifies if a student has special needs the home school can’t provide.
Some principals also try to exclude students. This is basically a trespass notice that prevents students from coming back to school, but does not expel them. However, you cannot exclude a student from a school he is attending. If he tries to do that, seek a lawyer as this is illegal to do under the Educatuon Act Regulations.
Watch this episode to learn more about what to do if your child is suspended or expelled.
For more information on education law contact:
Website: Devry Smith Frank LLP
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