On January 27, 2000, the Minister of Education announced the government's plans for improving the quality of special education programs and services in Ontario and for ensuring greater accountability in the area of special education. This document describes the new province-wide standards that school boards must meet when developing their special education plans. These standards support the government's goal of ensuring that exceptional students in Ontario receive the best-quality education possible. System-wide implementation of these standards will make school boards more accountable to students, parents, and taxpayers.

School boards must comply with the requirements for special education plans set out in Regulation 306 under the Education Act, entitled “Special Education Programs and Services”, and in this policy document. These requirements for standards build on requirements for school boards' special education plans previously set out in memoranda from the ministry.

In accordance with Regulation 306, each school board is required, every two years, to prepare and approve a report on the special education programs and special education services provided by the board, and to submit it to the ministry. Each board is required to maintain a special education plan, to review it annually, to amend it from time to time to meet the current needs of its exceptional students, and to submit any amendment(s) to the Minister for review.

One of the purposes of a school board's special education plan is to inform the Ministry of Education and the public about special education programs and services that are provided by the board in accordance with legislation and ministry policy on special education.

Beginning in 2001, the Ministry of Education will review each school board's special education plan to determine whether it complies with the standards mentioned above. The aim of the review is to ensure that certain standards are maintained across the province in the development and provision of special education programs and services. Where the ministry determines that a board's plan does not comply with the standards, the ministry will require the board to amend its plan. Amending the plan will include responding to identified omissions. Boards will make the necessary changes and submit the amendments to the ministry the following year.

Regulation 306 permits the Minister, at any time, to require a board to amend its special education plan in a manner that the Minister considers necessary so as to ensure that the board provides special education programs and services to meet the current needs of the exceptional students of the board.