School Board Update
Ontario Legislation Extends Time Limit for Student Expulsions
Date: April 17, 2020
Bill 189, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act, 2020 received Royal Assent on April 14, 2020. Among other things, Bill 189 amends the Education Act (Act) to extend the time limit to expel a student where such an extension is recommended by a principal, and granted by the Director of Education.
In the ordinary course, pursuant to section 311.3(8) of the Act, where a student has been suspended and a recommendation to expel the student has been made by a principal, a decision to expel must be made by the school board within 20 school days of the student’s suspension. Practically, this means that expulsion hearings before a school board must occur within 20 school days of a student’s suspension.
However, given the closure of schools as a result of COVID-19, school boards have expressed concern about their ability to hold expulsion hearings within the statutory timeframe. Bill 189 addresses these concerns with respect to students who were serving a suspension on the day that schools were closed by government order, and where there was a recommendation to expel the student, but an expulsion hearing and board decision had not yet occurred.
In these circumstances, the Director of Education may, upon the recommendation of a principal, provide that the normal 20 school day time limit to expel the student does not apply. Rather, where the normal 20 school day time limit does not apply, a school board must nonetheless make a decision whether to expel the student within 20 school days of the expiry of the closure order, unless the parties to the expulsion hearing agree on a later deadline.
School boards should therefore expect that it will be necessary to hold all pending expulsion hearings within 20 school days of the reopening of schools following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further, while school boards must continue to comply with their ongoing statutory obligation to promptly conduct an investigation following a suspension, we also recommend that school boards conduct a careful review of their own policies and procedures to ensure compliance with any internal time limits and to amend the policies and procedures as appropriate.
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