Special Education Hearing Steps

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A hearing gives you the chance to present and prove your case to the Tribunal.  It is important to remember that a tribunal is not a court. The panel is there to listen to both sides and make a decision that is in the best interest of the student, and also follows the law as it is described in the Education Act, the Regulations under the Act, and the Policies established by the Ministry of Education. 

Preparing for the Hearing

Think About the Issues:

  • Think about any facts or details that might help prove that the child’s placement and/or accommodations are not right. Make a list.
  • Think about the other party’s side of the story: In what ways do you disagree? What did they leave out? How do you respond? Make a list.

Witnesses:

  • If someone else is connected to or has information about your case, then you may want to bring them as a witness
  • If you are the only person with first hand info about your side of the story, you may not need witnesses
  • Good witness(es) = know about your personal issue, have a good reputation and do not gain or lose from the outcome.
  • Unsatisfactory witness(es) = have general information only, and may have a stake in how your case turns out.
  • If you’re worried that your witness may not show up, you can ask your case coordinator to help to get a summons
  • Write down the questions you want to ask your witness(es). These questions should help the witness to talk about the things that you think are important for your case.
  • Meet with the witness(es), tell them why you have asked them to speak for you, and practice asking them your list of questions.

Gather Documents:

  • Track down any records you have that you think might support your case.
  • These records must be sent to the secretary and the board at least 10 days before the hearing.
  • You can give any record that goes to the exact issues you have raised.  Such records might be emails or doctors' reports. Remember: other documents (found on the Internet or in the newspaper) ARE NOT usually allowed as evidence.

Read other Cases:

It can be helpful to you if you read some decisions of the Ontario Special Education Tribunal in other cases.  Although each case is decided on the basis of its unique facts, you can learn much by reading the decisions.  Ontario Special Education Tribunal Decisions

7 step special education appeal flow chart

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If you want a representative to help you to prepare for or carry out your hearing, you can contact:


Justice for Children and Youth

Toronto Phone Line: 416-920-1633

Ontario Toll Free: 1-866-999-5329


The Lawyer Referral Service of the Law Society of Upper Canada

Toronto Phone Line: 416-947-3330

Toll Free: 1-800-268-8326


Legal Aid Ontario

Toronto Phone Line: 416-979-1446

Ontario Toll Free: 1-800-668-8258


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Or, if you want more information from an advocacy group, contact:

Association for Bright Children

Autism Ontario

Canadian Association of Community Living

Canadian Hearing Society (CHS)

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)

Integration Action for Inclusion in Education and Community

Easter Seals Ontario

Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO)

Ontario Association for the Deaf

Ontario Association for Community Living

Ontario Coalition for Inclusive Education

Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy

Parents for Children's Mental Health

Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario

Tourette Syndrome Association of Ontario

VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children

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