Student disputes and appeals
Last updated: December 21, 2022
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Ideally, conflicts or concerns are resolved directly with the board staff involved.
If the problem has not been resolved after speaking with the person most directly involved, consider speaking with the school principal.
Next, consider speaking to staff in the school district office.
Many board of education appeal policies require that people try to resolve concerns informally before making an appeal to a board of education.
The School Act provides for two levels of appeal for students or their parents:
Boards of education
If the informal dispute resolution process has not resolved the issue, you may want to make a formal appeal to the board of education in your school district. Under the School Act (Section 11(3)), all boards are required to have appeal bylaws and processes.
Appeal guidelines (PDF) are now available to assist boards in revising their appeal bylaws and processes to promote accessibility, fairness, and ease of use.
Superintendent of Appeals
You cannot make an appeal to a Superintendent of Appeals until you have completed an appeal to your board of education.
If an appeal to the board of education does not resolve your concerns, you may appeal to a superintendent of appeal, as long as the matter falls within the scope of the Appeals Regulation and relates to:
- Expulsion from an educational program
- Suspension from an educational program
- Suspension from an educational program where no other educational program is made available
- Distributed learning required as part of a disciplinary matter
- A decision not to provide a student with an Individual Education Plan (IEP)
- Consultation about placement of a student with special needs and the provision of an IEP
- Bullying behaviours, including intimidation, harassment or threats of violence by a student against another student
- Exclusion due to a medical condition that endangers others
If the matter is not within the scope of the Appeal Regulation the superintendent of appeal has no jurisdiction.
An appeal to a superintendent of appeal may be started only after a section 11 appeal to a board of education has been heard and a decision made.
The superintendent of appeal will review your Notice of Appeal and make a decision.
Under legislation, the superintendent of appeal may make the following decisions:
- Summarily dismiss all or part of the appeal
For example, where the matter is out of the superintendent of appeal's jurisdiction
- Refer the matter for mediation
Mediation is when an impartial, neutral third party informally helps disputing parties in voluntarily reaching their own mutually acceptable settlement of the issues in dispute
- Refer the matter for adjudication
Adjudication is a form of dispute resolution in which the parties to the dispute submit evidence and make arguments to a neutral third party who has the power to deliver a binding decision, generally based on objective standards
Under s. 11.4 of the School Act, an adjudicator may take the following actions:
Confirm, vary or revoke the decision under appeal
Refer the matter back to the board for reconsideration, with or without directions; or
Dismiss all or part of the appeal
The superintendent of appeal may also temporarily suspend a board of education's decision that is under appeal, until the appeal process is complete.
Please share what outcome you would like to see if your appeal is referred to mediation or adjudication when you fill out the Notice of Appeal form.
Under s. 11.6 of the School Act, the superintendent of appeal's decision is final and binding.