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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Privacy Considerations for School Boards in the Era of Online Learning

April 21, 2020

While many school boards in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada begin distance learning in attempt to salvage the school year, many school boards wonder how to respect their duties in relation to the privacy of their students, their employees and their families. As many school boards have turned their attention to software to dispense distance learning via live videoconferencing, it is essential to underline important privacy considerations that will ensure that the distance learning program is compliant with school boards’ obligations.   Consent School boards would be well advised to receive the written consent of the students’ parents or guardians…

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Ontario passes Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act, 2020

April 17, 2020

On April 14, 2020, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act, 2020 to continue to address challenges with respect to COVID-19. The Act amends various acts, including the Education Act, the Planning Act and the Development Charges Act, 1997. The full text of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act, 2020 can be found here.   Amendments to the Education Act Two amendments were made to the Education Act. The first amendment relates to education development charges (EDC). Section 257.58.1 of the Education Act was amended to enable school boards to continue to charge…

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Ontario Divisional Court grants exceptional pupil’s judicial review application for special damages to cover the costs of private schooling

May 11, 2017

In L.B. v. Toronto District School Board et al. (March, 2017), the Ontario Divisional Court recently considered an exceptional pupil’s judicial review application of a remedial decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (and confirmed in a reconsideration decision). In its decision, the Tribunal found that the Toronto District School Board (“School Board”) had discriminated against the Applicant, L.B., an exceptional pupil, and awarded general damages in the amount of $35,000 as monetary compensation for injury to his dignity, feelings, and self-respect. However, the Tribunal denied the Applicant’s request for special damages to cover the costs of private schooling following…

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HRTO dismisses student’s discrimination application – parents failed to cooperate in accommodation process

May 8, 2017

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario recently considered whether the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (“School Board”) accommodated the applicant’s alleged disability by offering home instruction. In Y.B. v. Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (May, 2017), the Tribunal dismissed the Application on the basis that the Applicant’s parents made no attempt to cooperate in the accommodation process or work with the School Board to find an appropriate solution for their child. Emond Harnden’s Paul Marshall and Sophie Gagnier successfully represented the School Board before the Tribunal. At the relevant time, the Applicant, Y.B., was…

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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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