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.
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.
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.
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.