Filing a Notice of Appeal

A parent who disagrees with the decision stemming from the original or the follow-up meeting of the IPRC may file an appeal with a special education appeal board (SEAB). The parent may appeal:

  • the decision that the student is, or is not, exceptional; and/or
  • the placement decision, when a student is identified as exceptional.

The notice of appeal must be sent to the secretary of the board and must:

  • indicate the decision with which the parent disagrees; and
  • include a statement that sets out the nature of the disagreement.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsections 26 (1) and (4))

If a parent's notice of appeal is incorrectly written or does not accurately describe the area of disagreement, the appeal will not be ignored. In most cases, it is sufficient for parents to indicate their reasons for disagreeing.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsection 26(5))

Appeal Timeline

The request for an appeal must be filed with the secretary of the board within the following time limits:

  • within thirty days of receiving the IPRC's statement of decision; or
  • within fifteen days of receiving the IPRC's statement of decision arising out of a follow–up meeting with the IPRC.

The same timelines apply to appeals of decisions arising from an IPRC review.

When a parent files a notice of appeal, the IPRC placement being appealed is not implemented, pending the results of the appeal. However, there is nothing to prevent the parents and the school board from agreeing to the terms of a temporary placement pending the results of the appeal.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsections 26 (2) and (3))

The School Board Response to Receiving a Notice of Appeal

After receiving the request for an appeal, the school board sets the appeal process in motion. It is suggested that the board assign one or more staff who are not involved in the appeal to handle the arrangements for setting up the SEAB.

Selection of Appeal Board Members

Within fifteen days of the school board's receiving the notice of appeal:

  • the school board selects one person to be a member of the SEAB; and
  • the parent selects one person to be a member of the SEAB.

Though parents will often request that a local association recommend one of its members as their selection for the appeal board, they are not limited to this choice. Where the parents are unfamiliar with the local associations operating within the jurisdiction of the school board, the school board should be prepared to provide the parents with a list of Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) members and/or a list of local associations eligible for membership on SEAC.

Within fifteen days of the selections of the parent and school board representatives, these two appeal board members will select a chair. It may be helpful for a school board, in advance of any requests for an SEAB, to compile a list of people who they believe are suitable and willing to act as chair. The list may include people from other boards, retired educators, or SEAC members from other boards. A prepared list, with résumés, may help the two members select the chair.

If the appeal board members cannot agree on a chair, the manager of the district office of the Ministry of Education may be asked to select the chair.

No appeal board member should have had any prior involvement with the matter under appeal, nor should the member be an employee or member of the school board or an employee of the Ministry of Education.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsections 27 (1), (4), and (5))

Before the Meeting of the Appeal Board

The school board contact person should, as soon as possible after receiving the request for the appeal, contact the parties (i.e., the parents and the school board) to identify when they will be available for the SEAB meeting and whom they have selected as their respective appeal board members.

In addition, the contact person should:

  • inform all parties to the appeal how he or she may be contacted. Questions or concerns about the process should be directed to the contact person rather than to the appeal board members;
  • make preparations for the meeting, including finding a facility in which to hold the meeting. The meeting should be held in a neutral location, preferably reasonably close to the parents' home, such as a school that is not involved in the matter, a government office, or a hotel;
  • inform both the parents and the school board that any information regarding the student's needs and strengths that was brought up at the IPRC meeting(s) may be submitted to the appeal board for consideration. Although the regulation does not indicate when this information should be sent to the appeal board members, it should be submitted sufficiently in advance of the meeting to permit the members of the SEAB and the other party to read it carefully;
  • ensure that the parents and the student (if 16 years of age or older) are aware of their right to have a representative present at the meeting.

The chair of the SEAB:

  • must send a notice to the parents, the student (if 16 years of age or older), the school board, and presenters within a reasonable period of time (at least ten days before the meeting) to inform them of the date, time, and location of the appeal board meeting. These details should have been worked out in consultation with the parents, the school board, and the SEAB members. The chair has an obligation to make sure the meeting takes place at a convenient time and place. Although appeal board meetings tend to be scheduled for a single day, there may be circumstances in which everyone agrees that more time is necessary;
  • should request that the parents and school board each submit a list of the persons they wish to invite to the meeting, with an estimate of how much time these people will likely need to make their presentations to the appeal board. If time permits, both lists should be distributed to all parties in advance of the meeting. If the lists are extensive or if the appeal board members believe that certain persons are missing and should be invited, then the chair may convene a conference call with the parties to attempt to resolve any difficulties. Flexibility in scheduling may be needed to accommodate the schedules of the persons invited to provide information to the appeal board.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsections 28 (1) and (2))

If the SEAB members intend to request material that has not already been submitted by either the school board or the parents, then a request to this effect should be made in writing by the school board contact person and provided to both parties.

The chair of the IPRC who made the original decision will provide the appeal board with documents from the IPRC proceedings, including the statement of decision and any reports, assessments, or other items considered by the IPRC.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsection 27(6))

The chair of the SEAB, in consultation with the other parties, will arrange for a meeting to take place at a convenient time and place, but no later than thirty days after he or she has been selected, unless the parents and the school board both provide written consent to a later date.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsections 28 (1), (2), and (3))

The Appeal Board Meeting

The school board will:

  • provide the appeal board with secretarial and administrative services for activities such as making telephone calls, sending correspondence, photocopying and distributing material, and preparing copies of the appeal board's recommendations;
  • in accordance with board policy with respect to board members, pay the travelling and other expenses of the members of the SEAB while they are engaged in their duties.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsection 27(7))

In addition to the appeal board members, other people are entitled to be present at the appeal board meeting:

  • The parents and a student who is 16 years of age or older are entitled to be present for, and to participate in, all discussions.
  • The parents and student are permitted to have representatives present to speak on their behalf or otherwise support them. If the parents and/or the school board representative wish to have additional persons with them to assist with note taking, they should raise this matter with the chair of the appeal board either at or in advance of the meeting.
  • Any person who, in the opinion of the appeal board chair, may be able to contribute information with respect to the matters under appeal may be invited to attend.
  • The parents and the school board may, with the agreement of the appeal board, invite other persons to the meeting to speak about various matters relevant to the appeal.
  • If a special education program and/or service has been purchased from another school board, the representative of the board offering the service may attend.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsection 5(3))

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsections 28 (4) and (5))

The appeal board chair may prepare an agenda for the meeting that provides an overview of the scheduled proceedings. If possible, this agenda should be sent to the parties in advance of the meeting.

Sample Agenda for an SEAB Meeting

  1. A call to order
  2. An introductory statement by the chair of the appeal board, including:
    • introduction of the appeal board members
    • introduction of the participants
    • a statement of the purpose of the meeting
    • a description of the procedures to be followed (e.g., order of presentations)
  3. The presentations, including:
    • an opening statement by the parent
    • an opening statement by the school board
    • presentation of information by persons invited by the parent
    • presentation of information by persons invited by the school board
    • presentation of written information, if any, by parent and school board
    • a summary by the parent
    • a summary by the school board
  4. A closing statement by the appeal board chair. This statement should provide information about:
    • the decision date
    • the powers of the appeal board
    • the role of the school board following the decision

The SEAB meeting must be conducted in an informal manner. The goal of the meeting is to provide the appeal board members with the information they require in order to make their recommendations.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsection 28(2))

After the Appeal Board Meeting

The SEAB must make its recommendations to the school board within three days of the end of the meeting. The appeal board may:

  • agree with the IPRC and recommend that the IPRC's decisions be implemented; or
  • disagree with the IPRC and make a recommendation to the school board regarding the student's identification or placement or both.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, subsection 28(6))

The regulation requires that the appeal board report its recommendations in writing, including the reasons for its recommendations. This written statement must be sent to:

  • the parent;
  • the student, if 16 years of age or older;
  • the chair of the IPRC whose decision is being appealed;
  • the principal of the school;
  • the director of the school board; and
  • the representative of the purchasing board, if appropriate.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, section 29)

The appeal board may report its decision in whatever written form it finds appropriate. The following elements might be included:

  • personal information for the purpose of identification (e.g., the student's name and age, the parent's name and address, the name and address of the school);
  • the date, time, and place of the appeal board meeting;
  • the purpose of the meeting and the issue(s) with which it was concerned;
  • the names of the parties, their representatives (if any), and any presenters whom they invited to the SEAB meeting;
  • a summary of the facts of the case;
  • a summary of the positions of the parties;
  • a list of the factors that played a role in the formulation of the recommendations, and, if possible, the weight given to each of these factors;
  • the recommendation of the appeal board on the issue before it.

Although it is not required by the regulation, it is effective practice for the person designated as the school board contact to prepare an official file that includes:

  • the written communications between the appeal board and the parties;
  • the information submitted to the appeal board, including documents, assessments, videos, or other material (unless the parent requests that some of these be returned);
  • the appeal board recommendations;
  • the school board decision (see “After the Appeal Board Decision” below).

This record should be preserved for future reference, and for forwarding to a tribunal if required.

Note: Any records in the custody or under the control of the school board are subject to the privacy and access requirements of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

After the Appeal Board Decision

Within thirty days of receiving the SEAB's written statement, the school board must:

  • consider the appeal board's recommendations;
  • decide what action it will take with respect to the student;
  • send a written statement of decision to everyone who received the written recommendations from the appeal board and include an explanation of the parent's right to appeal to the Special Education Tribunal (SET).

In deciding what action to take, the school board is not limited to the actions recommended by the appeal board.

If the parent is not satisfied with the school board decision, he or she has a further right to appeal to the Special Education Tribunal.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, section 30)

The school board decision will be implemented when:

  • the parent consents in writing;
  • there is no appeal to the SET within thirty days of the parent's receiving notice of the decision; or
  • the appeal to the SET has been dismissed or abandoned.

Nothing prevents the school board and the parent from coming to an agreement that differs from the original school board decision. If so, the school board must give notice of the new decision to the same people to whom it sent the original statement of decision.

(See Ontario Regulation 181/98, section 31)

Summary of the IPRC Appeal Timeline

Notice of AppealAction
within 15 days of notice being received by the secretary of boardschool board and parent each select one member of appeal board
within 15 days of the selections being madethe two members select a chair
within 30 days of selection of chairappeal board meets (unless parent and board consent in writing to a later date)
within 3 days following the meetingappeal board recommendations sent to relevant parties
within 30 days of receipt of recommendationsschool board considers recommendations and sends statement of decision to relevant parties
Board's DecisionAction
within 30 days of receipt
parent appeals to Special Education Tribunal
after 30 days and without an appeal by parentsboard implements its decision

Summary of the Identification, Placement, and Review Process

IPRC Process and ProceduresParents and StudentsSchool Principals
Principal refers student to IPRC, either at the request of parent or on own initiativeThe parent:
  • may request, in writing to principal, that student be referred to IPRC
  • may request communication in Braille, large-print, or audio format
The principal:
  • ensures parental request is honoured
  • provides communication in alternative format, if requested
  • ensures all timelines are met
Within 15 days of making the referral, principal notifies parent that student has been referred to IPRCThe parent receives:
  • written notification of referral
  • estimate of when IPRC is likely to meet
  • parents' guide to special education in appropriate format
The principal:
  • sends parent required information and parents' guide
Once an IPRC has been requested, the committee:
  • obtains an educational assessment
  • obtains a health and/or psychological assessment, if needed
  • may consider interviewing the student
  • must consider any information about the student submitted to it by the parent and, if the student is  16 years of age or older, the student
  • Parent may be requested to give permission for a health and/or psychological assessment in accordance with the Health Care Consent Act, 1996
  • Parent may be requested to give permission for an interview if the child is under 16 years of age. Parent is entitled to be present for interview
The principal should:
  • ensure completion of educational assessment
  • obtain consent for health and/or psychological assessment, if needed
  • At least 10 days in advance of IPRC meeting, IPRC chair must notify parent and student (if 16 or older), in writing, of the date of IPRC
  • As soon as possible after IPRC chair receives information about student, the chair must send this information to parent and student (if 16 or older)
Parent and student (if 16 or older) are entitled to receive all information provided to members of IPRCThe principal:
  • should inform parent and student (if 16 or older) of student's entitlement to participate
The IPRC meets and:
  • may consider assessment reports, e.g., educational, health, speech and language, psychological
  • may consider the results of an interview with the student
  • may discuss and make recommendations (not decisions) for special education program and services
  • may include these recommendations in the decision
  • The parent and student (if 16 or older) are entitled to have a representative present who may speak on their behalf
  • Parent or student(if 16 or older) may request a discussion about special education programs and services and be present for and participate in discussion
The principal should:
  • understand role of the parent representative and, where appropriate, clarify role for parent, student, and representative
  • explain role of IPRC to parent, student, and their representative(s) prior to IPRC meeting
  • decides whether to identify a student as exceptional or not
  • applies, for exceptional students, category and definition of identified exceptionalities in accordance with ministry list of categories and definitions of exceptionality
  • describes strengths and needs of student
  • decides placement of student (must decide upon placement in regular class if satisfied that such a placement meets student's needs and is consistent with parental preferences). If the IPRC decides on placement in special education class, IPRC must set out the reasons for this recommendation in its decision
  • sends written notice of decision to parent, student (if 16 or older), principal, director of education
The parent and student (if 16 or older) receive written statement of decision from IPRC chairThe principal:
  • receives written statement of decision from IPRC chair
  • understands the elements of the statement of decision
  • appreciates difference between recommendations and decisions made by IPRC
  • may begin work on IEP
  • may review decision with parent and student (if 16 or older)
If parent requests follow-up meeting, second IPRC meeting to be convened as soon as possibleThe parent may, within 15 days of receiving statement of decision, request a second meeting with IPRC to discuss the decision further; or, within 30 days of receiving statement of decision, file a notice of appeal with boardThe principal arranges for follow-up meeting with IPRC as soon as possible, on request
Following the second meeting of IPRC, IPRC may:
  • uphold its original decision and notify all relevant parties of this decision, or
  • change its original decision and notify all relevant parties of this decision and reasons for the revised decision
The parent who does not agree with the upheld or revised decisions of follow-up meeting may request to have matter referred to an SEAB within 15 days of receipt of statement of decision of second meeting of IPRCThe principal ensures parent and student understand upheld or revised IPRC decision
The school board will implement IPRC decision as soon as possible and notify school principal of the decision
  • When parent receives IPRC final decision in writing, he/she should provide written consent for the placement or file a notice of appeal with the school board
  • If parent neither consents nor appeals, the school board may implement the IPRC decision
The principal ensures parent and student understand process for appealing
The student is placed in accordance with IPRC decision if:
  • parent consents, or
  • parent has not consented but has not begun an appeal before end of appeal period
If parent does not consent to placement and does not appeal, parent is notified in writing that student has been placedThe principal ensures that parent and student understand their rights
Within 30 school days of start of placement, an IEP must be developed for student and provided to parent and student (if 16 or older)The parent and student (if 16 or older) will be consulted on content of IEPThe principal ensures that parent and student (if 16 or older) are consulted on development of IEP and that IEP is completed and a copy is given to parent and student (if 16 or older)
For students aged 14 or over, IEP must include transition plan for postsecondary activities (except for gifted students)The parent and student (if 16 or over) will be consulted on content of transition planThe principal ensures that IEP includes transition plan for students with special education needs, where appropriate
At least once every school year, IPRC is reconvened to review student's identification and/or placement
  • Parent may request a review 3 months after placement has begun. A review cannot be requested more than once every three months
  • Parent may agree in writing to dispense with annual review
The principal:
  • may initiate IPRC review with notice to parent
  • if review is held, it follows procedure similar to that of initial IPRC meeting