Secure your academic success: handling expulsions


Getting back on track: dealing with suspensions

What leads to an expulsion?

Expulsions last 4 weeks or longer, and will disrupt a student’s education. Expulsions will also be recorded in a student’s Ontario Student Record and may affect the student’s relationships with teachers.

The principal must consider an expulsion if a student:

Has a weapon, including a firearm
Physically hurt another person so that person requires medical attention
Has previously been suspended for bullying and presents an unacceptable risk to the safety of another person by being at school
Engages in any prohibited activity listed under Ontario’s Education Act or the school board’s code of conduct

A student may be expelled even if the incident took place:

At school
At a school related activity or off school property and will have a negative impact on the school climate

Types of expulsions

School only

The student is not allowed to go to their school or participate in any of their school’s related activities. The principal will suspend the student first, then investigate, and make a decision on whether or not the student should be expelled. A recommendation to expel means that there will be a hearing before the school board of trustees to make a final decision.

All schools in the school board

The student is not allowed to attend any school or school related activities in any school in the student’s school board. The student will be assigned to a program for expelled students. Once the student has successfully completed the program, they are free to return to school. A student is free to apply to another school board if they have been expelled from all schools in their school board, however, the new school board will know about the expulsion.

Expelled students program

An Expelled Students Program is designed to help students make academic progress and help with any behavioural problems that may have led to expulsion. This could include anger-management, dispute resolution, or other non-academic programs. Before returning to school, a student must show that their behaviour has improved.

Mitigating Circumstances

Principals do not always have to expel. They must take into account whether the student:

  • Was unable to control their behaviour

  • Was unable to understand the forseeable consequences of their behaviour (what was likely to happen)

  • Being at school creates an unacceptable risk to the safety of any other person at school

They should also consider:

  • History at the school (including whether the student has had other problems with teachers or other students)

  • Whether they have been identified as an exceptional student or have a disability

Expulsion hearing & what to expect

Schools must provide you with a copy of their procedures and information on their process. At the hearing, the principal and board of trustees may have a lawyer. The principal will present evidence to the trustees on why a student should be expelled. During this process, you have rights, including:

  • Having a lawyer with you;

  • Being able to present the student’s side of the story;

  • The ability to call witnesses;

  • Was unable to understand the forseeable consequences of their behaviour (what was likely to happen), or,

  • To cross-examine or question the witnesses, and,

  • Explain the student’s disabilities and how the school board should accommodate them


Fast Facts

Families receive a written notice of possible expulsion, including why the student is suspended from school and for how long
Students are able to enroll in programs to ensure they keep up with their school work
The principal must make a reasonable attempt to speak with the student, their guardians, and witnesses
The school may want to enter into minutes of settlement - these may limit a student’s ability to make future claims against the board. Talk to a lawyer to see how this may affect you
If more than 20 school days pass by without a hearing or an agreement to extend the deadline, a student may return to school

Resources and Contacts

School Advocacy Hamilton

Information/tip sheets for parents

People for Education’s Parent Support Line
1 (888) 534-0100

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
(416) 326-1312 or 1 (800) 598-0322

Pro Bono Law Ontario
1 (855) 255-7256

Justice for Children and Youth

Empowerment Squared
(905) 393-5370

Black Legal Action Centre
1 (877) 736-9406


Be informed

Read more about the rules for expulsions; ask more questions

You are the only advocate

You are your child’s biggest advocate, and legally, likely, the only person who can make decisions on their behalf 

You are part of a team

Parents should not feel pressured by school staff to make a decision 

The Hamilton Education Law Program was funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario. This webpage gives general information about education in the Ontario public school system. Please speak to a lawyer or legal worker about specific questions. All information presented here is current as of October 2020.