The Public Education System
- Know your rights! You have the right to be meaningfully consulted on your child’s education. Your child also has a right to the accommodations necessary so that they can reach their own personal potential. Read and understand the Hewko and Moore decisions.
- Each school district has written policies and procedures on how to deal with problems and challenging decisions.
- Although policies may have different names, when you disagree with a decision in regards to your child’s education the procedure is to move up to the next level of authority in your school district. You must appeal to each person who is responsible for your child’s education in this order before you move to the next level:
District Administration – who is responsible for special needs supports for your child?
Ministry of Education – Appeal to Superintendent of Achievment
Always be professional and communicate clearly
- Clearly state what you are requesting. Then, why it is important. Give examples of how it can be achieved (how it’s done at home, or how other students elsewhere do it). Use Hewko language (instructional control, meaningful consultation).
- Pick your battles. Determine when you need to get involved. There will be lots of issues – some small and some large – and educators need to understand that when you do approach them with an issue it is important and needs to be dealt with in a timely manner. Also always remember to reinforce good behaviour – are school staff doing something good?
- Always be prepared for meetings. Practice ahead of time. Stay on message. Write the request out, read it, practice it, check it (make sure you know exactly what you are asking, who you are asking and why you are asking for it).
- Emotional? Bring a trusted person with you to meetings. Get someone to review your correspondence to make sure you are not inflammatory and that you are clear in your message.
Keep EVERYTHING in writing
- Take meeting minutes if IEP’s, teacher meetings, meetings with principal or resource teacher
- Email the minutes within a week of the meeting
- Make a written account of conversations and email them to interested parties asking for clarification
- Here are some legal tips about CREATING A PAPER TRAIL
Use a deadline for all requests
- “I request that we have a meeting set up for next week, if I do not hear back with a response by Friday November 29th I will consider that a denial of this request.”
- Be willing to escalate in a timely manner if your child’s needs are not being met
- All school boards must have appeal procedures to help resolve disputes. The ministry expects that the appeal procedures will be based on principles of administrative fairness, which include the right of students and parents/guardians: to be heard by the school board; to be consulted in decisions affecting them; and to an impartial school board decision based on relevant information.
- In addition, the School Act provides for an appeal to the Ministry Superintendent of Achievement in certain circumstances.
- All districts should have their appeals procedure published on their website.
¨NOTE – School Boards MUST obey the law and operate in the spirit of Hewko
Be prepared to take the next step! Many parents do access quality education and appropriate support for their children in school and usually with a large amount of advocacy and quite often a lawyer! Remember that the Hewko and Moore parents spent thousands of hours – years of their lives – achieving legal precedent – parents need to be prepared to use it!