The Education Act

The Education Act requires the Minister of Education to ensure that appropriate special education programs and services are provided for exceptional pupils in accordance with the Act and the regulations. Subsection 8(3) states:

The Minister shall ensure that all exceptional children in Ontario have available to them, in accordance with this Act and the regulations, appropriate special education programs and services without payment of fees by parents or guardians resident in Ontario, and shall provide for the parents or guardians to appeal the appropriateness of the special education placement. . . .

This section of the Act requires “school boards to implement procedures for early and ongoing identification of the learning abilities and needs” of students. It also gives the right to the Minister to review the categories and definitions of exceptionalities, which are described in the Categories of Exceptionalities section.

It is mandatory for all school boards to provide, or purchase from another board, special education programs and services for their exceptional students. Subsection 170(1) states:

Every board shall . . . provide or enter into an agreement with another board to provide in accordance with the regulations special education programs and special education services for its exceptional pupils.

Subsection 1(1) defines exceptional pupil, special education program, and special education services as follows.

An exceptional pupil is:

a pupil whose behavioural, communicational, intellectual, physical or multiple exceptionalities are such that he or she is considered to need placement in a special education program by a committee, established under subparagraph iii of paragraph 5 of subsection 11(1), of the board,

  1. of which the pupil is a resident pupil,
  2. that admits or enrols the pupil other than pursuant to an agreement with another board for the provision of education, or
  3. to which the cost of education in respect of the pupil is payable by the Minister.

A special education program for an exceptional pupil is:

an educational program that is based on and modified by the results of continuous assessment and evaluation and that includes a plan containing special objectives and an outline of educational services that meets the needs of the exceptional pupil.

Special education services are:

facilities and resources, including support personnel and equipment, necessary for developing and implementing a special education program.


The following chart lists and provides links to the regulations made under the Education Act that support special education programs and services for exceptional students.
Regulation NumberTitleDescription
181/98Identification and Placement of Exceptional Pupils

Governs the establishment and conduct of the Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC), and sets out the procedures involved in identifying a student as exceptional, deciding the student's placement, or appealing such decisions when the parent does not agree with the IPRC. (The requirements of the regulation for the IPRC are described in detail in Part D of this guide.)

Governs the establishment of the Individual Education Plan (IEP). (The requirements of the IEP are described in detail in Part E of this guide.) For more information on categories and definitions of exceptionality, see the Categories of Exceptionalities section in this part of the guide.

296Ontario Schools for the Blind and the Deaf

Relates to the operation of the Ontario Schools for the Blind and the Deaf and sets out the requirements with respect to admissions, fees, and transportation, as well as the duties of students, teachers, residence counsellors, parents, and the superintendent.

298Operation of Schools – General
  • Subsection 3(3) permits a reduction in the length of the instructional program for exceptional students to less than the required 5 hours per day.
  • Section 11 sets out the duties of principals with respect to exceptional students, in addition to those in the Act.
  • Section 19 sets out the qualifications teachers must hold to be placed in charge of or to teach in a special education program.
  • Section 26 describes the supervisory relationship between principals and professional support staff, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, where such persons are performing duties in a school.
  • Section 30 provides for special education programs for preschool children who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Section 31 sets out maximum enrolment for special education classes.
  • Section 32 sets out the use of sign language in the classroom and as a language of instruction and in communications in regards to student discipline and management of the school.
306Special Education Programs and Services

Requires each school board to maintain and regularly review a special education plan. (The requirements taken from Standards for School Boards' Special Education Plans (2000) are described in detail in Part B of this guide.)

464/97Special Education Advisory Committees

Governs the appointment to and operation of Special Education Advisory Committees (SEACs).

(The requirements of Special Education Advisory Committees are described in detail in the Advisory Committees on Special Education section in this part of the guide.)

Policy/Program Memoranda

Policy/program memoranda (PPMs) are official statements of policy issued by the Ministry of Education and directed to school boards and schools. PPMs serve a number of functions, including:

  • setting out requirements regarding the application of a regulation, a section of the Education Act, or other legislation;
  • setting out a standard that boards are expected to meet or a directive with which they must comply;
  • providing an interpretation of legislation or regulations that may significantly affect board practice.
The following chart lists and provides links to PPMs that pertain exclusively or in part to students with special education needs.
PPM NumberTitleYear
1Ontario Schools for the Blind and Deaf as Resource Centres1986
8Identification of and Program Planning for Students with Learning Disabilities2014
11Early Identification of Children's Learning Needs1982
59Psychological Testing and Assessment of Pupils1982
76CAlternative Educational Programs and Services for Deaf, Blind, and Deaf-Blind Exceptional Pupils1991
81Provision of Health Support Services in School Settings1984
89The Residential Demonstration Schools for Students with Learning Disabilities: General Information and Details of the Referral Process1990
119Developing and Implementing Equity and Inclusive Education Policies in Ontario Schools2013
138Daily Physical Activity in Elementary Schools, Grades 1–82017
140Incorporating Methods of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) into Programs for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)2007
141School Board Programs for Students on Long-Term Suspension2012
142School Board Programs for Expelled Students2012
144Bullying Prevention and Intervention2018
145Progressive Discipline and Promoting Positive Student Behaviour2018
149Protocol for Partnerships with External Agencies for Provision of Services by Regulated
Health Professionals, Regulated Social Service Professionals, and Paraprofessionals
151Professional Activity Days Devoted to Provincial Education Priorities2019
153Applications for Temporary Letters of Approval2010
155Diagnostic Assessment in Support of Student Learning2013
156Supporting Transitions for Students with Special Education Needs2013
159Collaborative Professionalism2016
160Protected Time for Daily Mathematics Instruction, Grades 1 to 82016
161Supporting Children and Students with Prevalent Medical Conditions (Anaphylaxis, Asthma, Diabetes, and/or Epilepsy) in Schools2018