School Boards Take Note: Recent Developments of Interest

In this Update, we discuss a recent decision of Arbitrator Nyman with respect to what constitutes a collective agreement and which re-affirms the longstanding principle that the interpretation of a collective agreement is first to be based on the plain and ordinary meaning of the written words. We also discuss a topical case with respect to a grievor’s obligation to produce arguably relevant medical documentation in the context of a grievance arbitration – notwithstanding the contractual restrictions that may exist.

IPC Publishes Guidance for School Boards on Their Obligations Under MFIPPA

The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) has published A Guide to Privacy and Access to Information in Ontario Schools (Guide). The Guide provides a succinct overview of a school board’s responsibilities under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA or Act). The Act obliges school boards to protect individual privacy and maintain the freedom of information for records in their custody or control. The Guide provides particularized examples from IPC decisions concerning school boards.

Health and Safety Disclosure Obligations: What You Need to Know

What information is a school board required to provide to its joint health and safety committee (JHSC)? Following Arbitrator Parmar’s decision earlier this year in Toronto Catholic District School Board v. Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (Grievance re Health and Safety) (Award), many unions are demanding that school boards provide additional student-related information to the JHSC. Learn more about the decision – and what your organization should consider before complying with these requests – in this School Board Update.

That’s a Wrap – Final School Board Update of 2018

In this School Board Update, we review two recent decisions which will be of interest to school boards. The first is an arbitration decision which considers the Ontario teacher performance assessment (TPA) process in a case where the termination of a teacher’s employment was upheld. The second is a decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario which concluded that a school board was not in violation of the Human Rights Code when it did not provide Applied Behavioural Analysis / Intensive Behavioural Intervention to a young student.

Welcome Back to School!

With this edition of our School Board Update, we’d like to welcome you back to a new school year. In this Update, we discuss a recent policy of the Ontario Human Rights Commission with respect to accessing education for students with disabilities, which notes that while advances have been made in this area, there is still much work to be done.

Recent Legislative Initiatives of Interest to School Boards

Recent legislative changes in Ontario will have a significant impact on school boards. First, school boards will now be required to adopt a code of conduct that applies to trustees. Second, as of January 1, 2018, entitlement to benefits for chronic mental stress is compensable under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997

Arbitrator Confirms that a Teacher on Voluntary Unpaid Leave is Not Entitled to Sick Leave Until She Makes a Bona Fide Return to Work

In a decision dated February 20, 2018, Arbitrator William Kaplan dismissed a grievance brought by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) concerning a teacher’s entitlement to sick leave when, following a voluntary unpaid non-statutory leave of absence, she is unable to return to work due to an intervening illness or injury.

Human Rights Tribunal Dismisses Special Education Human Rights Application, No Prima Facie Case of Discrimination Found

In a recent decision, U.M. v. York Region District School Board, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (Tribunal) dismissed an application brought against the Respondent school board which alleged that it had discriminated against two students (U.M and M.M.) in the delivery of educational services. This decision confirms that in special education situations, a school board is obliged to act in the interests of the students with respect to educational decisions; while it should communicate with parents, those educational decisions are not generally subject to parental control. Learn more in this School Board Update.

Court of Appeal Reiterates that a Sincerely Held Belief is Insufficient to Found a Violation of the Charter

In an important decision which weighs competing rights, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal on the basis that the appellant had failed to provide any evidence that the inclusion of what he referred to as “false teachings” in the school curriculum interfered with or violated his or his children’s religious freedom. Learn more in this School Board Update.

Arbitrator Declares that DECEs Need Not be Scheduled “Side By Side” with FDK Teachers

In an arbitration award released on October 13, 2017, Arbitrator Russell Goodfellow dismissed a grievance brought by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) concerning the scheduling of breaks accorded to Designated Early Childhood Educators (DECEs) under the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) support staff collective agreements applicable to them. Arbitrator Goodfellow declined to follow the controversial path taken by Arbitrator George Surdykowski in a 2014 decision involving the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (Surdykowski Award) and has established a very useful precedent for school boards to employ. In this School Board Update, we review this important award.