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Children with Special Needs

All students are entitled to receive the same benefit of an education. That means that school programs must be delivered in a way that is conducive to each student learning in a way that allows the student to fulfill his or her potential.  Where a child has special needs, be they physical disabilities, developmental delays, mental health concerns or learning disabilities, receiving an education in the same way as other students, may not allow that child to get the same benefit from the school education and experience. Schools identify these students as “exceptional pupils” and develop programs that give the child with special needs, the same opportunity to learn as much, and succeed in school, like all the other students.  These special programs are called “accommodations” and schools are required to provide accommodations to the point of “undue hardship.”  

If a parent disagrees with the way that programming is provided to a student with identified special needs, it is up to the parent to gather the evidence, usually professional assessments, to show what the school is doing is wrong.

There is an appeal process for parents to appeal what the school identifies as the special need, and to appeal the placement, which is what type of classroom the student is in. 

The Ontario Special Education Tribunals (OSETs)

The two Ontario Special Education Tribunals (OSETs) hear appeals by parents and guardians who are not satisfied with the school board’s identification or placement of a child with exceptional learning needs.

The OSET- English hears appeals from decisions made by English Public and Catholic School Boards. The OSET - French hears appeals from decisions made by French Public and Catholic School Boards.

The OSETs hear appeals only after parents have completed all possible appeals at the school board level under the Education Act.

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There is no match between an experienced counsel and the one who has just started practice. Be careful, appeal matters are serious and maybe the only option for a legal remedy.

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