Suspensions

Getting back on track: dealing with suspensions

Suspensions

Getting back on track: dealing with suspensions 

What leads to a suspension?

A suspension means students are removed from school for a specific amount of time.
Students involved in an incident contrary to the school board’s Code of Conduct can be suspended if the incident took place:
  • At school
  • At a school related activity 
  • Off school property, and will have a negative impact on the school climate (i.e. harassing another student on social media)
A principal may consider suspending a student if they:
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Threaten to hurt another student
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Swear at a teacher or principal, or any other individual in a position of authority
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Engage in any prohibited activity listed under Ontario’s Education Act or the school board’s code of conduct
A principal must suspend a student and consider expelling them if they:
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Have a weapon
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Use a weapon to threaten or hurt somebody else
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Physically hurt another person where the person requires medical attention
^
Engage in any prohibited activity listed under Ontario’s Education Act or the school board’s Code of Conduct

Mitigating circumstances

Principals do not always have to suspend.
They must take into account whether the student:
  • Was unable to control their behaviour;
  • Was unable to see the forseeable consequences of their behaviour (what was likely to happen); or,
  • Being at school does not create 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); or,
  • Whether they have been identified as an exceptional student or have a disability.

What can parents do?

Within 10 days of suspension, write to the supervisory officer to appeal. If you have received a “suspension pending an expulsion” notice, you cannot appeal the suspension until after the principal has decided whether or not to recommend an expulsion.

Criminal Acts

If the suspension involves a criminal act, the principal may also have to notify the police. Keep in mind:
  • Whatever a student says about the incident may be passed on to the police
  • They do not need to answer any questions the police may ask; and,
  • They have the legal right to have a parent or other adult present when being questioned

What next

During a 1 – 5 school day suspension:
Not Required:
  • Planning meeting with the school
  • Student Action Plan: Academic
  • Student Action Plan: Support
  • Re-Entry meeting
During a 6 – 10 school day suspension:
Required:
  • Planning meeting with the school
  • Student Action Plan: Academic
  • Re-Entry meeting
Not Required:
  • Student Action Plan: Support
During a 10 – 20 school day suspension:
Required:
  • Planning meeting with the school
  • Student Action Plan: Academic
  • Student Action Plan: Support
  • Re-Entry meeting
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Fast Facts

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Suspensions last anywhere from 1 to 20 school days
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Principals must take mitigating factors into account
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Suspensions must be communicated as soon as possible with verbal and written notice
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You can appeal suspensions you think are unfair

Resources and Contacts

School Advocacy Hamilton
schooladvocacy.ca
Information/tip sheets for parents
peopleforeducation.ca
People for Education’s Parent Support Line
1 (888) 534-0100
Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
htro.ca
(416) 326-1312 or 1 (800) 598-0322
Pro Bono Law Ontario
ontarioprobonoontario.org/education_law
1 (855) 255-7256
Justice for Children and Youth
jfcy.org
Empowerment Squared
empowermentsquared.org/help
(905) 393-5370
Black Legal Action Centre
blacklegalactioncentre.ca
1 (877) 736-9406

Advocacy

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Be informed

Read more about the rules for suspensions; ask more questions

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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 

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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.
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