Education Law
Stephen R. Biss, B.A., LL.B.

See also The Bill 160 Education Quality Improvement Act Discussion

A student who faces suspension should immediately obtain legal advice respecting the possibility of an immediate suspension appeal hearing. Rules for the conduct of a suspension appeal hearing vary from Board to board across Ontario. In general, the hearing must be conducted in accordance with the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. You or your counsel should demand full disclosure of the Board's case before commencement of the hearing.

The rules for expulsion hearings also vary from Board to Board. You should obtain legal advice well in advance of the hearing date. It is important that you know the case against you prior to the expulsion hearing. Your lawyer will meet in advance with the Board Administration and their lawyer to determine their full position. If you are eventually expelled it is important to have laid the groundwork before the expulsion for later readmission.

A student who is summoned by the Principal or Vice-Principal or police to answer questions concerning a disciplinary matter should realize that whatever the student says to such a person in authority may be used against the student in a suspension appeal or expulsion hearing. A student should consider asking a parent for help. A parent or a student may wish to obtain legal advice before answering any questions. It is of course the duty of the Principal or Vice-Principal to maintain discipline at the school, however, young persons are often at a disadvantage when they are interviewed by an adult. Comments the student makes may be misconstrued and used against the student.

Students or parents facing a truancy charge should also obtain legal advice.


Suspension Appeal
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        Excerpts  from  the Education Act, Revised  Statutes  of  Ontario

        1990, c. E.2, as amended by S.O. 1993, c. 11        

Section 23       

     23.--(1) A principal may suspend a pupil because of persistent truancy, persistent opposition to authority, habitual neglect of duty, the wilful destruction of school property, the use of profane or improper language, or conduct injurious to the moral tone of the school or to the physical or mental well-being of others in the school.

     (1.1) A suspension under subsection (1) shall be for a period fixed by the principal, not exceeding twenty school days or such shorter period as may be established by the board as the maximum period for suspensions under subsection (1).

     (1.2) When a pupil is suspended under subsection (1), the principal shall,


notify forthwith in writing the pupil, the pupil's parent or guardian, the pupil's teachers, the board, the appropriate school attendance counsellor and the appropriate supervisory officer of the suspension and the reasons for the suspension; and


notify forthwith in writing the pupil and the pupil's parent or guardian of the right of appeal under subsection (2).  

     (2) The parent or guardian of a pupil who has been suspended or the pupil, where the pupil is an adult, may, within seven days of the commencement of the suspension, appeal to the board against the suspension and the board, after hearing the appeal or where no appeal is made, may remove, confirm or modify the suspension and, where the board considers it appropriate, may order that any record of the suspension be expunged.

     (2.1) An appeal under subsection (2) does not stay the suspension and, if the suspension expires before the appeal is determined, the board shall determine whether the suspension should be confirmed or whether the record of the suspension should be removed or modified.

     (2.2) If the pupil is suspended for the maximum period allowed under subsection (1.1) or is suspended more than once during a school year, the board shall ensure that a guidance counsellor or other appropriate resource person employed by the board,


reviews the circumstances of the suspension or suspensions, as the case may be; and


where appropriate, informs the pupil and, if the pupil is not an adult, the pupil's parent or guardian, of services that are available from the board or elsewhere in the community to assist the pupil.  

     (3) A board may expel a pupil from its schools on the ground that the pupil's conduct is so refractory that the pupil's presence is injurious to other pupils or persons, if,


the principal and the appropriate supervisory officer so recommend;


the pupil and the pupil's parent or guardian have been notified in writing of,


the recommendation of the principal and the supervisory officer, and


the right of the pupil where the pupil is an adult and otherwise of the pupil's parent or guardian to make representations at a hearing to be conducted by the board;


the teacher or teachers of the pupil have been notified; and


such hearing has been conducted.

     (4) The parties to a hearing under this section shall be the parent or guardian of the pupil or the pupil, where the pupil is an adult, the principal of the school that the pupil attends and, in the case of an expulsion, the appropriate supervisory officer.

     (5) A board may at its discretion readmit to school a pupil who has been expelled.

     (6) The board, by resolution, may direct that the powers and duties of the board under subsections (2) to (5) shall be exercised and performed by a committee of at least three members of the board named in the resolution or designated from time to time in accordance with the resolution.  

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Section 30

     30.--(1) A parent or guardian of a child of compulsory school age who neglects or refuses to cause the child to attend school is, unless the child is legally excused from attendance, guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $200.  

     (2) The court may, in addition to or instead of imposing a fine, require a person convicted of an offence under subsection (1) to submit to the Minister of Finance a personal bond, in a form prescribed by the court, in the penal sum of $200 with one or more sureties as required, conditioned that the person shall cause the child to attend school as required by this Part, and upon breach of the condition the bond is forfeit to the Crown.

     (5) A child who is required by law to attend school and who refuses to attend or who is habitually absent from school is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to the penalties under Part VI of the Provincial Offences Act and subsection 266(2) of this Act applies in any proceeding under this section.

 (6) Proceedings in respect of offences under subsection (5) shall be proceeded with only in accordance with such subsection.

     (7) Where, in a proceeding under this section, it appears to the court that the child may have been excused from attendance at school under subsection 21 (2), the court may refer the matter to the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor who shall direct that an inquiry shall be made as provided in subsection 24 (2) which subsection shall apply with necessary modifications except that the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor shall, in lieu of making an order, submit a report to the court.

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Section 31 

     31.--(1) Prosecutions under section 30 shall be instituted by the school attendance counsellor concerned.

     (2) In prosecutions under section 30, a certificate as to the attendance or non-attendance at school of any child, signed or purporting to be signed by the principal of the school, is proof in the absence of evidence to the contrary of the facts stated therein without any proof of the signature or appointment of the principal.

     (3) Where a person is charged under section 30 in respect of a child who is alleged to be of compulsory school age and the child appears to the court to be of compulsory school age, the child shall, for the purposes of such prosecution, be deemed to be of compulsory school age unless the contrary is proved.

     (4) An order made under subsection 24 (2) shall be admitted in evidence in a prosecution only where the prosecution is in respect of the school year for which the order was made.


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