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Apr 07, 2017

Education Law Blog

Today's blog piece is about expulsion. Here are some fun facts:

  • In the school year of 2013-2014, 452 students were expelled in Ontario.
  • Of the 452 students, 53 were female students, and 399 were male students.
  • 93% of the expelled students were secondary students.
  • 30% of the expelled students were students with special education needs.

What do these numbers tell? A male secondary school student with special education needs is more likely to be suspended than students in other categories. While the proportion of the expelled students being special education needs students does not seem terribly high, it is worth noting that "students with special education needs" are defined as students who are identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) and have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in place. Students who have an IPRC in place are often students with a severe disability. Many special-need students have IEP only and would therefore qualify as "students with special education needs."

In other words, the actual proportion of expelled students being special-needs students might be a lot higher than 30%. These students need every ounce of education to succeed in life, and being expelled is simply bad news for them.

The activities that can lead to an expulsion are listed under the Education Act s. 310(1). These are situations where a principal must suspend a student, for:

  • Possessing a weapon, including possessing a firearm
  • Using a weapon to cause or to threaten bodily harm to another person
  • Committing physical assault on another person that causes bodily harm requiring treatment by a medical practitioner
  • Committing sexual assault
  • Trafficking in weapons or illegal drugs
  • Committing robbery
  • Giving alcohol to a minor
  • Bullying if the student has previously been suspended for engaging in bullying, and the student's continuing presence in the school creates an unacceptable risk to the safety of another person.
  • Hate crimes

A mandatory suspension would typically last for 20 school days. During these 20 school days, a principal shall commence an investigation to decide whether to recommend an expulsion to the school board. A principal has no jurisdiction to expel a student. Only a school board may expel a student after an expulsion hearing.

If a student is expelled, he or she may be expelled from the school, or from all schools in the school board. When a student is expelled from his or her school, that student may transfer to another school of the school board, or to another school under a different school board. If a student is expelled from the entire school board, he or she would have to attend a school under a different school board.

For students expelled from the school board, a support program should be available, and the principal shall develop a Student Action Plan, where it identifies the academic program that an expelled student must complete before transferring to another school under a different school board.

Being suspended for 20 school days pending an expulsion is certainly stressful. If you would like to find out how you could appeal an expulsion, my next blog piece talks about the appeal process.

If you are facing an expulsion and would like to receive legal advice, please contact Kingston Community Legal Clinic for free legal services.


This column, written by Sandra Hsia, Staff Lawyer with the Kingston Community Legal Clinic (KCLC), provides general legal information only about current laws. If you need legal advice you should contact a lawyer. If you are living on a low income you may be eligible for free legal help. Contact your local community legal clinic if you need help with income programs, workers’ or tenants’ rights, consumer problems, or human rights. Call Kingston Community Legal Clinic at 613-541-0777. If you have a criminal, family or immigration law problem, contact Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or visit www.legalaid.on.ca.

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