Education Alerts

Our Education Law Alerts are intended to provide school board administrators and human resources officials with information about significant cases and other developments in the education law field.

The articles listed below are intended to provide readers with general information. They should not be regarded or relied upon as legal advice or opinion.

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Ontario Superior Court grants interlocutory injunction to CÉPEO in response to OFSAA New By-Laws

October 2, 2015

On August 27, 2015, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted an interlocutory injunction under the minority language education rights provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) suspending application of the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations’ (OFSAA) new By-Laws to the francophone minority in Eastern Ontario and to maintain the status quo until the dispute between the parties is heard on its merits. The motion for the interlocutory injunction was successfully argued by Emond Harnden’s own Paul Marshall and Sophie Gagnier on behalf of the Plaintiffs, the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (CÉPEO)…

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SCC rules on French language education at school in Vancouver – children not provided education guaranteed by the Charter

May 5, 2015

On April 24, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada reinstated a lower court declaration stating that parents of children attending a French language school in Vancouver were not being provided with educational facilities equivalent to majority language schools, as guaranteed by section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter). Section 23 imposes a constitutional duty on the provinces and territories to provide minority language education to children of s. 23 rights holders where numbers warrant. The Supreme Court has previously explained in Mahe v. Alberta, [1990], that section 23 guarantees a “sliding scale” of minority language…

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IPC issues caution to school boards implementing video surveillance at schools

April 13, 2015

In a March 11, 2015 decision, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (“IPC”) upheld a privacy complaint against the Halton Catholic District School Board (the “Board”) regarding the use of video surveillance at a secondary school in Oakville. The complaint was brought under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“MFIPPA”) by a parent whose child attended the school. The complaint expressed concern with the use of video surveillance and that there was a lack of consultation in its implementation. The IPC commenced an investigation and found that although the Board had enacted…

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Arbitrator rules after-school academic support program not the exclusive work of teachers

June 28, 2012

A recent arbitration decision examined the right of a school board to deliver an after-school academic support program staffed, not by teachers, but instead by Educational Assistants (“EAs”). In Re Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board and OECTA (December 2011), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (the “Association”) grieved the Board’s hiring of EAs for the program on the basis that the duties of the EAs constituted teaching duties and therefore fell within bargaining unit work. The arbitrator dismissed the grievance and ruled that the program was not part of the Board’s instructional program and that the EAs were not performing…

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Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario dismisses special needs student’s discrimination claim

June 9, 2011

The Ontario Education Act (the “Act”) recognizes that students with special needs will not receive equal educational services unless appropriate accommodations are made. The Act requires school boards to accommodate such students by providing special education programs that aim at identifying, and placing, the students with special needs. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario recently considered whether the Ottawa Catholic School Board (the “School Board”) discriminated against a student by failing to appropriately accommodate her special needs. In E.P. v. Ottawa Catholic School Board (April 2011) the Tribunal dismissed the application on the basis that the School Board implemented appropriate…

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Ontario’s top court rules employees have privacy interests in content on work computers

April 14, 2011

  On March 22, 2011 the Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision in R. v. Cole. It held that the police breached a high-school teacher’s Charter rights when they searched his work laptop computer without a warrant. The appellate court ruled that the employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the work computer and that employers cannot give police access to workplace computers without a warrant. Richard Cole was charged with possession of child pornography, and unauthorized use of a computer, under the Criminal Code. The charges arose after a school computer technician remotely accessed…

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Human Rights Tribunal rules that it is not an avenue to appeal decisions by Special Education Tribunal

August 17, 2010

Recently, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario considered an application brought under the Human Rights Code (the “Code”) alleging that the Toronto District School Board (the “TDSB”) discriminated against a high school student by failing to provide a special education program that met the student’s disability-related needs. In Schafer v. Toronto District School Board (February, 2010) the Tribunal dismissed the student’s application noting that the Tribunal is not a proper avenue to appeal decisions by the Special Education Tribunal. The Tribunal further held that there was no evidence that the accommodations provided by the TDSB were significantly inappropriate or inadequate….

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Bill 157: Reporting and responding to serious incidents in schools

August 1, 2009

On June 1, 2009, the Ontario government passed Bill 157, the Education Amendment Act (Keeping Our Kids Safe at School) 2009 which amends Part XIII (Behaviour, Discipline and Safety) of the Education Act. The Bill 157 provisions are scheduled to come into force on February 1, 2010. The Legislature’s stated objective is to address reporting gaps between teachers, principals and parents about serious student incidents that could lead to suspension or expulsion. The Bill 157 amendments will make it mandatory for school staff to report violent incidents to the school principal. School principals will be required to notify the parents…

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Schools could feel the effects of Copyright Act amendments

September 1, 2005

Bill C-60, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, received first reading in the House of Commons on June 20, 2005. While attention in the press has focused on the effects of the legislation on the recording industry and Internet service providers, the Bill could have a significant impact on schools as well. The Bill would permit educational institutions to telecommunicate (which includes telecommunicating by means of the Internet) lessons containing copyrighted materials without this being an infringement of copyright. However, the teacher giving the lesson must destroy the lesson within 30 days after the course in which the lesson…

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Consequences, not intent: B.C. Court of Appeal finds school board liable for homophobic bullying by students

August 1, 2005

The British Columbia Court of Appeal has upheld a decision of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that held a school board liable for the homophobic bullying of a high school student by his peers. A significant aspect of the decision was the determination that it was irrelevant that the complainant did not identify himself as homosexual and that his harassers may not even have believed that he was homosexual. The decision is also significant because the finding of liability against the board was made despite the fact that it had taken disciplinary action against the harassers and had promulgated a…

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