tribunal2

School Expulsion Hearings

Go to:
Witnesses
Pre-hearing Motions
At the Beginning
You Will Then Make Your Case
Important Reminders


Laying Out the Issues

Before the hearing, you will need to be prepared. Get ready to explain each issue you thought about for your pre-hearing report. Think about any facts or arguments that might help prove that something did or did not happen, or that something should have been done to prevent or avoid the circumstance that led to your child's expulsion.

Think about the other party’s side of the story: In what ways do you disagree? What did the other side leave out? How should you respond? What witnesses do you think you will need?

Getting to Know the Law

It is important that your arguments against the expulsion are based on factors listed in the Education Act (listed in the law section) and also that they make sense considering other decisions made by this appeal board.

It will be helpful for you to read these sections and think about ways you think the expulsion decision went against the Education Act rules and/or other Board decisions in other similar cases. 

Write down the names of the cases you think are similar to yours that help explain your point of view, and write down the sections of the law that you think were not correctly applied in your case.

***NOTE: Wherever the expulsion decision you want to appeal doesn’t line up with the law, make sure you raise this in your case, and as part of the questions you ask your witnesses. For example, the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a legal requirement for in-school support. Was there a kind of support outlined in the IEP that was not followed? Could the circumstance leading to expulsion have been avoided if the IEP had been followed as it was written?

Witnesses

Not everyone needs witnesses at the hearing.  You may not need witnesses if you are the only person with first-hand information about your side of the story. If someone else has experience or information that supports your side, then you should probably bring these people in as witnesses.

  • Write down questions you want to ask your witness(es). Your questions should help your witness talk about the things that you think are important for making 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.
  • Pick your witnesses carefully:
    • Make sure your witnesses will support what you are trying to prove.  (For example, before calling your child’s teacher, think about whether he or she will likely offer details that support your argument)
    • Remember that people who may be prejudiced are not usually good witnesses.
    • Remember that people who do not know about your exact situation are not usually good witnesses.
  • If you’re worried that your witness may not show up, you can ask your case coordinator to help get a summons so that they will have to appear.

Documents:

  • Any documents you are planning to use to support your case must be sent to the appeal board and the other party at least 10 days before the hearing
  • You can use any document that helps explain or support the specific issues you have raised. Examples might be emails, assessments or doctor’s reports.

Remember: documents that are not about the student’s issues or the expulsion (e.g., anything found on the Internet or in a newspaper) ARE NOT usually allowed as evidence.

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Service of Documents

When you give official documents to the appeal board, you also have to tell them how and when you gave the same official documents to the other parties. You can send documents to the other parties by mail or in person. If you are not sure where to send them, ask your case coordinator for help.

Pre-Hearing Motions

Motions are orders you would like the appeal board to make. For example, if you would like to delay the hearing, you would ask the board to approve a motion of delay, and explain why it is important. Motions may be brought in any form, but you must explain exactly what you want the appeal board to do (delay the hearing, exclude some evidence or a witness). You will need to give facts and reasons to support your request.

A hearing is held in private unless someone brings a motion asking for it to be open to the public. If you want your hearing to be open to the public, you will need to make a pre-hearing motion asking for the hearing to be open.

Pre-hearing motions must be made no later than 2 days before the hearing, or may be made at the start of the hearing (so long as you can explain why it was not done prior to the hearing).

Disclosure

The term disclosure refers to the exchange of official documents and evidence between the parties. The school board will give you copies of all the things they plan to use to make their case, and you will give them copies of anything you will use to make yours. Any evidence either side wants to use at the hearing has to be given to the parties and the appeal board no later than 10 days before the hearing. 

If you find important evidence after the deadline, you can bring it to the hearing and the appeal board members (a 3-person panel) will listen to your explanation about why it is important and why it is late. They will decide whether or not you can include it. In most cases, the new evidence will be allowed to be used after the other side has had a chance to look at it. 

What Happens at the Hearing

Who’s in the Room

  • Three appeal board members will be at the front. One of them, the presiding member, will run the hearing.
  • The other party (the school board) and maybe their representative.
  • You (and maybe your representative or support person).
  • The student whose expulsion is being appealed has the right to be present at the hearing and to make a statement on his or her behalf, whether or not the student is a party to the appeal.

***NOTE:  Your support person does not have to speak for you or give you advice. That person can be there only to provide moral comfort or physical help.

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At the Beginning

  • Before the hearing starts, the presiding member will ask any witnesses to leave the room until it is their turn to testify. This is done so that the witnesses won’t change their story after they have heard other witnesses, or be influenced by what others say.
  • The presiding member will then ask whether anyone has any questions. This is your chance to get more information about something you do not understand or to request a delay if you are not ready for the hearing. 

Motions Made in the Hearing

  • Motions allow parties to ask the presiding member to make a decision on a request. An example of a request could be that a party needs more time to prepare or that a witness or document isn’t helpful. 
  • You must give reasons for your motion. If the other parties make a motion, you have the right to comment or object.
  • The panel will consider everything that is said and say yes or no to the motion.

Exhibits

When a piece of evidence is given to the Panel to be used in the hearing, the evidence is given a number and it becomes an exhibit.  Exhibits are papers, reports, videos, or anything that you wish to use as evidence.

  • The best time to present items as evidence is when the person who knows about them speaks. If there is no witness, you should give the exhibits to the panel at the time when the exhibits can best support what you are trying to say.
  • Sometimes a presiding member of the board (the chair) will ask for all the exhibits to be submitted at the beginning of the hearing.
  • Each exhibit will be given a number by the panel. Be sure to write down these numbers and say the number of each exhibit when you talk about it. Doing this will help the panel keep things straight, and make the hearing run more smoothly.
  • Either party can object to each other’s exhibits. If you object to an exhibit you must give reasons why you do not think it will be helpful to the hearing.

The School Board will Present First

  • The school board representatives will ask their witnesses questions. The questions are supposed to provide facts and information about the situation. Pay attention to anything the witness says that you think is important or incorrect.
  • You will have a chance to ask each of the school board’s witnesses questions. You can challenge their opinion and ask them about other facts that might support your version of the events.

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You Will Then Make Your Case

  • If you do not have a representative, simply tell your story. If you have a representative, that person will ask you questions to go through your story. The appeal board panel may ask you some questions either while you are speaking or afterward. If you have other witnesses, you may ask them questions about what they know that supports your case.
  • The other parties will have a chance to ask you and each of your witnesses some questions. Answer honestly and directly. If you do not understand the question or don’t know the answer, just say so.
  • Sometimes new issues or information comes up when the other side is questioning you or your witnesses. If this happens, you can ask more questions about those new points. But, when questioning a witness for the second time, you must only ask about the new information. You cannot ask the same questions as you did before.

Using Witnesses to Help Make Your Case

  • Call the witnesses in an order that helps tell your story in a clear way.
  • When you call your witnesses, you should use open-ended questions; do not use questions that suggest what the answers might be.
  • Never comment on the answer given by a witness.
  • When questioning the other side’s witness, you can suggest an answer and then ask the witness “yes or no?”
  • If you have information that goes against what a witness is saying, ask the witness about it.
  • If both parents are there, one parent may act as a representative and ask questions. The other parent becomes a witness and may be cross-examined by the other side.
  • If you question your witness a second time, you can only ask about anything new that came up while they were being questioned by the other side. You can’t ask your witness the same questions.

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Important Reminders

  • You should never interrupt the witness while the person is speaking. Save your thoughts about what they are saying for your testimony or for your closing statement. You will be given your chance to say how you disagree.
  • You are trying to convince the panel that your version of the story is true. Stick with the facts, information and experiences that help the panel to see your side of the story.
  • It is important that your story is supported by the rules described in the Education Act and its regulations, and that it is similar or consistent with other decisions made by this appeal board.

Objections

  • If you or the other party thinks that a question should not have been asked, an objection can be made.
  • If you want to object, tell the panel; do not talk to the other side about it. Always speak to the presiding member.
  • Once an objection is made, both sides will have a chance to give reasons why a question was or was not fair. The panel will then decide.

Final Arguments

Once all the witnesses have spoken and the exhibits have been shared, the panel will ask each side to explain why, based on the information that came out of the hearing, and based on the law, a decision should be made in their favour. Prepare an outline of what you want to say during your final argument.

  • This is not the time to testify all over again.
  • Instead, go over the best evidence that supports your side of the story and review the reasons why the other side’s case is weak.
  • Focus on the places where what the school board did was not in line with the law.
  • Tell the board what you would like them to remember as they leave to make their decision.

The Decision

Once the hearing has ended, the panel meets to talk about the facts, information presented, and the law. Only panel members who heard all the evidence will take part in making the decision. The decision is based only on the evidence given at the hearing.

If You Disagree

The decision of the tribunal is final and binding. You do not have the right to appeal or to apply for a re-hearing. If you think that the hearing was unfair, or that the decision was not reasonable or correct, you can ask a court for a judicial review. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer first.

Ombudsman Ontario

The Ombudsman does not have the power to overturn decisions or change tribunal decisions, but If you believe you were treated unfairly by an administrative tribunal you can make a formal complaint with the Ombudsman. If the Ombudsman agrees, he can make recommendations to the tribuanl to address the problem, and he can also make recommendations about government legislation, policies or programs. For more information on the powers of the Ombudsman over tribunals, go to:  Ombudsman Ontario

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Tribunal Number: 

School Expulsions - More Info

Go to:
Principal's Responsibilities
Some Previous Cases


Board’s Authority

Child and Family Services is governed by the Education Act. (s. 311.7)

Grounds for Expulsion (s. 310)

Grounds for expulsion include the following activities while at school, at a school-related activity or where the activity will impact school climate:

1. Possessing a weapon, including possessing a firearm
2. Using a weapon to cause or to threaten bodily harm to another person
3. Committing physical assault on another person that causes bodily harm requiring treatment by a medical practitioner
4. Committing sexual assault
5. Trafficking weapons or illegal drugs
6. Committing robbery
7. Giving alcohol to a minor

Any other activity that, under a policy of a board, is an activity for which a principal must suspend a pupil and, therefore in accordance with this Part, conduct an investigation to determine whether to recommend to the board that the pupil be expelled.

Principal's Responsibilities

After a suspension, the principal of the school is required to conduct an investigation into whether to recommend that the pupil be expelled [s. 311.1(1)] from the present school, and/or all the schools of the particular school board. 

Factors that make suspension/expulsion more or less likely [s. 311.1(4), Reg 427/07 ss 2,3]:

  1. the pupil does not have the ability to control his or her behaviour
  2. the pupil does not have the ability to understand the foreseeable consequences of his or her behaviour
  3. the pupil’s continuing presence in the school does not create an unacceptable risk to the safety of any person
  4. the pupil’s history
  5. whether a progressive discipline approach has been used with the pupil
  6. whether the activity for which the pupil may be or is being suspended or expelled was related to any harassment of the pupil because of his or her race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation or to any other harassment
  7. how the suspension or expulsion would affect the pupil’s ongoing education
  8. the age of the pupil
  9. In the case of a pupil for whom an individual education plan has been developed,
    • whether the behaviour was a manifestation of a disability identified in the pupil’s individual education plan,
    • whether appropriate individualized accommodation has been provided, and
    • whether the suspension or expulsion is likely to result in a worsening of the pupil’s behaviour or conduct.

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Here are a few previous cases that may be similar to your situation.  

HK v Durham, 2008   

In this case the board decided that a student acting out in a way that could be anticipated based on their identified emotional problems should often not be expelled. The student should instead be given resource support and/or counselling instead.

MC v Toronto Catholic District School Board, 2011 

In this case, the appeal board said that students who have special needs but do not have an individual education plan (IEP) or behavioural plan can still have the Education Act’s mitigating factors and additional factors considered by the appeal board in their case.

RS v Dufferin-Peel SB, 2008    

The Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) said that, because a history of progressive discipline is something that can be held against a student facing expulsion (under the additional factors in the Education Act), any voluntary counselling or activities the student has done—that had no punishment attached—is not evidence of progressive discipline. The CFSRB also said that the impact on the student’s learning environment (under the Education Act’s additional factors) is flexible. This means the appeal board might let the student attend another school or summer school even if he or she has been expelled.

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< Back to The Hearing

 

Tribunal Number: 

School Expulsions Hearing Preparation

Go to:
Mitigating Factors


To obtain free legal advice as you prepare for your hearing, you can contact:

Legal Aid Ontario
Toronto Line: 416-979-1446
Toll-free: 1-800-668-8258

The Lawyer Referral Service
Toronto Line: 416-947-3330
Toll-free: 1-800-268-8326

Child Advocacy Program - Pro Bono Law Law Help Ontario

Getting ready for your Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) hearing involves a lot of preparation. Below is a checklist of information and evidence that you can prepare. It's important to prepare the evidence the best you can, as it may lead to the expulsion being overturned or reduced. Having the expulsion reduced means that the student is expelled from the school only and not from the entire school board.

You might answer the following questions and use your answers as you plan your appeal. 

  • Does your child (the student) have a diagnosed learning disability, history of social problems, ADHD, or ODD, etc.?
  • Does your child have an IEP and/or a behavioural plan? If not, has the school offered any resource support for your child?
  • Is the student’s IEP up to date? When was the last time it was reviewed by the IPRC?
  • Was the IEP being followed correctly when the event happened that led to the expulsion?
  • Was a school staff member that the student knew involved at the time when the student did what they are being expelled for?
  • Were there special resource supports and/or accommodations for the student at the time of the event? (Example: time out in the resource room) Were they being used correctly?
  • Is there any evidence you can show that any of the mitigating factors or other factors from the Education Act [shown and explained below] influenced what happened leading to the student’s expulsion?

Showing that there were mitigating factors or other factors that were important in your child’s case can make it more likely that the student will not be expelled or will only be expelled from their school and not the entire school board.

Mitigating Factors: (from the Education Act, O. Reg 472/07 s. 2.)

  1. The pupil does not have the ability to control his or her behaviour.

    Can you have a counsellor or psychologist inform the appeal board that the student cannot control his or her actions?

  2. The pupil does not have the ability to understand the foreseeable consequences of his or her behaviour.

    Can you have a counsellor or psychologist inform the appeal board that your child cannot foresee the results of his or her behaviour, or not understand those results?

  3. The pupil’s continuing presence in the school does not create an unacceptable risk to the safety of any person.

    Can you show, or have a counsellor or psychologist inform the appeal board that your child is not likely to cause an unacceptable risk to the safety of anyone at the school?

  4. Does the student have a history of behaviour issues leading up to the event that he or she was expelled for?

    If your child does not have a history of behaviour issues leading up to the event, or if the behaviour in this situation is not of the same type, the CFSRB may overturn the expulsion.

  5. Has a progressive discipline approach been used with the student? i.e., Has the student been disciplined repeatedly with consistent increases in severity leading up to this expulsion?

    If a progressive discipline approach was not used, the CFSRB may overturn the expulsion.

  6. Leading up to the event that they are expelled for was the student teased/bothered/harassed because of his or her race, culture, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or any other reason?

    If your child experienced any of the above, the CFSRB may find that the expulsion should be overturned.

  7. How old was the student at the time of the expulsion?

    If you can show that your child is at an age or grade level where an expulsion may affect his or her social well-being or self-image, the CFSRB may choose to overturn the expulsion.

  8. Will the student’s ongoing education be damaged if the student is expelled, either from the school or the entire board?

    If your child's ongoing education will be damaged as described above, the CFSRB may find that he or she should not be expelled, or that the expulsion should be from the school and not from the entire school board. 

  9. In the case of a pupil for whom an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) has been developed:
  • Was the behaviour that the student was expelled for caused by a disability that was in the student's IEP?
  • If the disability was not identified in the IEP, was the IEP up to date?
  • Was appropriate individualized accommodation provided?
  • Was the student treated properly, considering his or her IEP?
  • Will being expelled make the student’s behaviour worse?
  • Did the student have a history of progressive discipline leading up to the expulsion?
  • Does the student have a history with a psychologist or other professional at the school or elsewhere who can speak about him or her to the appeal board?

The CFSRB will consider all these issues in the hearing, and information about them may help them reach a fair decision.

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< Back to Appeal Steps          Continue to The Hearing >

Tribunal Number: 

School Expulsions Appeal Steps

Go to:
The Timeline
What Appeal Board Staff Cannot Do to Help
Settlement Facilitation Conference
 


3 Application Steps flow chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Form C:  Application to Appeal School Board Expulsion Decision

Child and Family Services Review Board 
2 Bloor Street West, 24th Floor
Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3V5

The Timeline

Your application should be sent to the address above within 30 days of getting the expulsion decision. Applications sent after 30 days will be allowed only if there are reasonable grounds for the extension.


Application Help

If you need an application form sent by mail or fax, or if you need help filling out the application, please contact the Child and Family Services Review Board (CSFRB) as follows: 

Child and Family Services Review Board
2 Bloor Street West, 24th Floor
Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3V5

Toronto Line: 416-327-4673
Toll Free: 1-888-728-8823
TTY: 416-327-9247
Fax: 416-327-4379

Your contact with the appeal board will be the case coordinator assigned to the case, not a board member.  The only times you will meet and talk to board members are at a pre-hearing conference, a settlement facilitation conference or a hearing.  These meetings are explained below. 

Understanding how appeal board staff can support your application will help you get through the steps of your appeal and increase your chance of success.  It is important for you to understand what staff can and cannot do to help you with your application.

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What Appeal Board Staff Can Do to Help

  • They can give you copies of application forms. You will organize your own application and documents.
  • They can answer questions about how the board works and deals with your appeal.  
  • They will check your application and tell you if the board needs more information.
  • They can give you basic information about pre-hearings, settlement facilitation conferences, motions and hearings.
  • They can tell you how your appeal is being managed at every step of the process.

What Appeal Board Staff Cannot Do to Help

It is important for you to understand what staff can and cannot do to help you with your application. 

  • They cannot give you legal advice about your case.  
  • They cannot recommend the name of any lawyer to represent you.  
  • They cannot tell you what words to use in your application and documents.
  • They cannot tell you what to say at a pre-hearing, settlement facilitation conference or hearing or how to make legal arguments to the board.
  • They cannot tell you if you have a good case or what the decision of the board could be. 

First Steps

  • The appeal board will assign a file number to your application and give you this number.
  • You must include the file number on any official documents that you send to the appeal board or to the other party.
  • The appeal board will tell the school board about your appeal application.
  • The appeal board will get the principal’s report recommending the expulsion.
  • The appeal board will be in touch with you in writing or by phone. 
  • The appeal board will make sure you are aware of each step in the process.

Pre-hearing Conference

  • The appeal board will set up a pre-hearing conference with you and the school board within six days of getting your application. The parties will be contacted to ask when they can meet. 
  • You, someone from the appeal board, and the other parties will talk on the phone
  • You can prepare for the pre-hearing conference by making notes ahead of time. List each issue and explain each point that helps prove your side of the story
  • The pre-hearing conference might:
    1. Lead to an agreement on what issues will be decided at the hearing.
    2. Set out facts or evidence that both sides agree on.
    3. Help to estimate how long the hearing is likely to take.
    4. Finalize the list of witnesses to be called at the hearing.
    5. Look at any other matter that may help the appeal board deal with the issues fairly and quickly.
  • After the pre-hearing conference you will get a report on what was discussed and, within 30 days, you'll be given a hearing date.

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Settlement Facilitation Conference

  • Sometimes, the appeal board will set up a settlement facilitation conference. This is the same as a mediation meeting. If everyone agrees to take part in settlement facilitation, an appeal board member will act as a facilitator or mediator to help you reach an agreement with the other parties. 
  • You do not have to try mediation, but if you do try it and it does not work, nothing that was said during the mediation can be used as evidence at the hearing.
  • If mediation works for all issues, you will not need a hearing.

Hearing

  • The appeal board will set a date for the hearing. They will try to find a date and location that works for you.
  • Once the date has been decided, you will receive a Notice of Hearing.
  • Be sure to attend the hearing. If you know you won’t be able to make it, you can ask for a different time. It's important to attend - if you just don’t show up and don’t give a good reason for it, your file may be closed.

Interpreters

If you, or any of your witnesses, need an interpreter you should tell the appeal board as soon as possible.  They will get and pay for the interpreter. 

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< Back to Overview          Continue to Hearing Preparation >

Tribunal Number: 

School Expulsions Overview

Go to:
What the Child and Family Services Review Board Does
What the Child and Family Services Review Board Can Do For You


Was your child recently expelled from school? Parents who want to appeal a school board decision to expel their child may do so through the Child and Family Services Review Board. (CFSRB). The information in this section explains how the review board holds hearings when parents want to appeal a school board decision to expel their child. It aims to help parents understand the appeal process and how to make an appeal if their child has been expelled.  It is not meant to be used as legal advice for a specific legal problem. 

You do not need a lawyer to appeal to the CFSRB, but if your situation is complicated or difficult to explain, you may want to see a lawyer before you begin your appeal.  

What the Child and Family Services Review Board Does

The CFSRB hears appeals from people who do not agree with a school board’s decision to expel a student.

The review board will decide:

  • Whether an expulsion decision was legal, i.e., did the principal and school board follow all steps listed in the Education Act
  • Whether the student was unfairly expelled
  • Whether there are other considerations that, despite the circumstances,  should have been a reason to avoid expulsion

For example: The review board will question whether the school board considered the factors raised in the Education Act, such as:

  • Any issues with how the student's individual education plan (IEP) was written or carried out
  • The student’s inability to control or foresee and understand the outcomes of his or her actions
  • The potential impact of expulsion on the student’s further education, or
  • Any of a number of other factors listed in the Education Act under “factors that make suspension/expulsion more or less likely:” [s. 311.1(4), Reg 427/07 ss 2,3]

The wording used here is not exactly how it is written in the Education Act. More detail is in the law section on this topic.  

This review board usually serves:

  • A parent or guardian of a student who is under 18 and who was recently expelled
  • A student 18 years old and over who was recently expelled
  • A student who is 16 or 17 years old, who has withdrawn from parental control, and was recently expelled

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What the Child and Family Services Review Board Can Do for You:

Going to the CFSRB can help you in four main ways:

  • If a student was unfairly expelled, it can force the school board to allow the student back into school.
  • It can give you more information about why an expulsion occurred.
  • It can offer you a chance to tell your story.
  • It can bring attention to the circumstance and situation that led to expulsion.

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 Continue to Appeal Steps >

Tribunal Number: