NEW DECISION – Tribunal Declares: Parents of Disabled Children are NOT Important to Public Interest

Here is a blog post that is a must-read!!

“In a decision on a timeliness application, Parent v School District 2024 BCHRT 113, the tribunal confirms that parents can file a complaint under family status in connection with their child’s human rights discrimination case. I encourage you to read the decision in full.

They say this is not unique and cite Independent School Authority v. Parent, 2022 BCSC 570 as evidence that this has been confirmed before. The timeliness application was not rejected because the school doesn’t owe “a service” to the parents, as originally stated in a human rights complaint decision, which rejected parents being connected under family status in Habetler obo Habetler v. Sooke School District and B.C. (Ministry of Education), 2008 BCHRT 85

When you represent your child in a human rights complaint, any money received during a settlement or from a hearing decision will go directly to them. If you have any financial losses due to your child’s exclusion or emotional harm, then you have also experienced an adverse effect. So, parent(s)/guardians, you can submit a complaint just for you.  This is BIG news. It hasn’t been tested at a hearing yet, but your complaint will be considered. It’s confirmed. It’s so possible the tribunal doesn’t even consider it unique.  This absolutely needs to be done within the one year or it will not be accepted because…. And hold onto your hats, we are now moving into the shocking part of this decision.

Brace yourself.

The tribunal has declared with this decision, that parents who experience harm connected to their employment because of the discrimination their disabled child experienced at school, is not in the public interest to address this.”

To read the FULL Blog click below.

What really bothers me is that society seems to think it is ok to not have inclusive child care and education and just expect women to exit the workforce and give up their careers to be full-time caregivers and not get paid for that.

I’d like to know if a parent can file a human rights complaint under family status regardless whether their child’s situation would be deemed discrimination or not, but its discrimination to them.

  1. Do they have a protected characteristic?
    – Yes. Family Status, Sex. (Child has a disability)
  2. Did they experience an adverse effect?
    – Yes. They had to quit school / work / emotional harm (high stress, etc)
  3. Is their adverse effect connected to their protected characteristic?
    – Yes. Their child is on reduced hours, or for other reasons of their own children being discriminated against, they left their work or school.

Now all we need is a parent who is willing to test the system….

Resolution Options in Education

You have a situation at your child’s school that you realize, with all your best efforts, is not being resolved internally. You need help. You need an external organization to intervene. Who do you go to?

Not necessarily an easy question.

Some have retaliation protection built into their legislation, some do not.

Each option is connected to their own separate legislation. They are each a silo and operate independently. They are not connected. Knowing which avenue is most appropriate can save you months and even years of potential disappointment or wasted time.

Here are your options and the legislation they are attached to.

  1. Professional Conduct Unit (Teachers Regulation Branch)

The TRB is connected to the Teachers Act. If the teacher in your child’s class has violated the standards for educators you can file a complaint. The Commissioner will determine if their behaviour was enough of a marked departure to lead to a consent resolution. The TRB will not consider human rights discrimination in the way that the HRT will. They are connecting the teacher to the Teachers Act and their professional standards, not determining if their behaviour was discrimination or related to the human rights code.

Before you file a TRB complaint please read this information.

There is no retaliation protection built in to the legislation, they advise you file another complaint for the retaliation.

2. Ombudsperson BC

The Ombudsperson of BC deals with administrative fairness and is connected to the Ombudsperson Act. So if education staff are ignoring you, not explaining their decisions to you or not following their own policy, then you could file a complaint with them.

You can go on their website and see their check lists to know if the administrative or procedural unfairness that you are experiencing is something they can assist you with. They can do an early resolution if you are being ignored. Silence, unfortunately is not uncommon in education.

There is retaliation protection built into the Ombudsperson Act.

3. Human Rights Complaint

The HRT deals with the Human Rights Code. It is an administrative tribunal and this area connected with disability in education is most likely going to be tied to Section 8: Duty to Accommodate. This is a legal process connected to the Human Rights code. That’s it. They will not be applying school policy to their decision making, just the Code. Understanding the components of the duty to accommodate is key.

Here is a guide/work book to help you organize your case.

There is case law around the schools responsibility to prevent continued bullying, and not having barriers that would prevent a disabled child from accessing their education connected to a duty to accommodate. This includes a duty to inquire, a duty to consult, and a duty to co-operate in good faith. Parents then have a duty to co-operate in good faith, a duty to facilitate the decision, and need to accept accommodations that are being offered that will remove the barrier for their child to access their education. This doesn’t mean the best accommodation, just enough to remove the barrier. I highly recommend you consult a lawyer. On the HRT website they have a list on where to get help.

There is a very firm 1 year limitation.

There is retaliation protection built into the Human Rights Code.

4. Section 11 Appeal

This process connects with the School Act. As a parent you can file a section 11 appeal if you disagree with a decision that the school is making and it is significantly affecting your child and their education.

This advocacy is more open to looking at how policy and discrimination are impacting the student. Here are some guidelines.

5. Education Mediation

Education mediation is connected to the Education Mediation Act. This is an option I know very little about, and would be relying on this legislation for information just as anyone else looking at it for the first time.

If anyone has gone this route and would like to share their experience with me, I would love to hear about it. Please email me at Kim @ speakingupbc.ca

6. Advocacy groups (highly recommended)

Support is essential when advocating in education. Having someone knowledgeable with experience to guide you is very beneficial.

BCEdAccess Society & Parents Facebook group
Inclusion BC
Family Support Institute

The Underground World of Human Rights Complaints in Education

By systemic design, human rights complaints in education are underground. A hidden world, away from prying eyes and transparent investigation. This is not for privacy and confidentiality.

  1. Back in the day, with focused education-reporters, this article was written about the expense of lawyers fees for Harris and Co. Vancouver Sun – School districts and the money spent on Harris & Co. What is NOT mentioned in this article is that the money for Harris & Co. also covers human rights complaints filed by parents on behalf of their children.
  2. On the Harris & Co. website, they list the services they offer to school districts. What is explicitly missing, is that they defend human rights complaints, both by employees and by parents. The words “human rights” are missing. Search the database of the Human Rights Tribunal, you will see the cases with the names of the lawyers that link back to their law firm.
  3. On the Human Rights Tribunal website, find me where parents can get information about discrimination related to education services? Last year, I emailed them informing that information specific to education is badly needed. I received no response. No updates on the website have been made. I have had to do my own research and write blogs like this: Understanding the Duty to Accommodate, Why is documentation so important, and create a Human Rights Tribunal and an Education Law page to help other parents understand their rights. I am asking this honestly, for anyone reading this, please send me any links that you can on human rights and education in BC. I’d love to know where this information is posted. If you want to find info on human rights in BC in education the only place to look is case law. So I created my case page. (Which actually should be updated with all of my newest finds.) I swear, I need 26 hours in a day.
  4. Meanwhile in Ontario the Human Rights Tribunal has a Special Education Tribunal, and an Ombudsperson branch focused on Education. Don’t even get me started talking about the Teacher’s Regulation Branch here in BC. That’s a whole other story still in progress.
  5. The Ministry of Education doesn’t even track human rights complaints. Evidence – the state of human rights complaints in BC. No one is even paying attention to all of this. No oversight. Nothing. No monitoring. No accountability. Yup. Read that again.
  6. We already know that the obvious form of exclusion happens from BCEd’s exclusion tracker. We rarely see articles about education human rights complaints in the news. Surrey School District. Parents need to “out” their child. Data with anonymity specific to education isn’t available. Discrimination in school systems is so wide spread. It’s just been accepted as part of the daily fabric of how the education system functions and parents are left to advocate, taking up the responsibility on their own.

So this underground hidden world exists…

Interesting…

Anyone care to take a guess as to why????

I have a couple interesting theories. None that I can write out on social media.

Interesting to note:

  1. Education human rights cases tend to be very long and complex. Weeks long.
  2. The human rights tribunal is already an overwhelmed system as it is. 3-5 years is the current estimate start to end time.
  3. According to the HRT annual report only 1% of complaints make it to a hearing, and if you are unrepresented against lawyers only 20% win their cases. Without hearings happening in education, we don’t have enough case law in education around discrimination.
  4. Parents are quoted &120,000.00 in lawyers frees for a 5 day hearing for lawyer representation. If you win, the settlement offers are small fractions of your legal fees.
  5. Pro-bono lawyers, once you get a settlement offer, wont agree to take your case to a hearing. Or good luck finding one who will.
  6. There is a turn of the tide happening right now. The latest human rights hearing list, has three cases in education, all in the same month.

It is a hidden underground world.

You want a concrete example of what systemic oppression looks like…well…here it is folks!

Oh and fun fact, this system isn’t changing anytime soon.

Where is the outrage?

Oh, that’s underground too.

You see, at Harris & Co. they do explicitly list “defamation issues including defamation on social media” as part of their services.

Lucky us.