Problems With School?

The following information applies to the public school system in Ontario only. Rules governing private schools are set by the individual school except for school attendance requirements which apply to all students. For more detailed information about any of the issues described below, read our education law pamphlets (right to attend, suspensions, expulsions and special education).

When can I leave school?

Unless you have a legal excuse not to attend school, you must stay in school (or an equivalent learning program approved by the Ministry of Education) until your 18th birthday.

What happens if I donít go to school when I am supposed to?

The principal may suspend you from school.

If you skip school regularly, you can be charged with truancy, and if you are found guilty, you can be fined or given probation. One term of probation usually says you must go to school. If you break probation by skipping school again, you can be sent to jail. If you are charged, you should speak to a lawyer.

Your parent or an adult you live with can be charged if they donít try to make you go to school.

How can I enrol in school?

You have the right to attend a school in the district where you live with your parents. You may not be able to attend the school of your choice if the school board has offered you a spot in another school in your district.

If you are in secondary school and the nearest school to you is in another school district that has room for you, you can attend that nearest school.

What if I do not live with my parents?

If you still live in the same school district as your parents, you can attend a school in that district. If you are a tenant, you are entitled to attend school in the district where you pay rent regardless of where your parents live. If you live with another adult who has legal custody of you, you are entitled to attend school in the district where you live with that person. If none of these apply to you and you are having trouble getting into school, you should talk to a lawyer.

What if the school refuses to admit me because of my immigration status?

It is illegal for the school board to refuse to admit any child under 18 years of age into school because the child or the childís parent or guardian is in Canada without immigration status. If this is happening to you, you should speak to a lawyer. Your local legal clinic may be able to assist you.

What are my rights if I have been suspended from school?

You or your parents must be told promptly that you have been suspended, the length of the suspension, the reason, and how to appeal. If the principal is only suspending you and not considering an expulsion then you can appeal the suspension.  You must give notice that you want to appeal within 10 days of the start of the suspension.  Unless you agree otherwise the appeal must be heard within 15 days of the board receiving your notice of appeal. You will still have to serve the suspension until the appeal is heard. If you win your appeal, you can ask the school board to remove or change the record of the suspension in your file and you can immediately return to school

The principal can only suspend you for up to twenty days. You can also be suspended from attending one or more classes, or from attending one or more school-related activities. If you are suspended for 5 or more days, a suspended students program must be made available to you.  If the principal is considering expelling you then you may be suspended pending an expulsion for up to 20 days, you cannot appeal the suspension during this period.

The principal must consider mitigating circumstances before deciding to suspend or recommend expulsion

For more detailed information read our pamphlet on suspensions.

I have been told that I am being kicked out of school, what are my rights?

The principal can exclude you from a school if he or she believes that you have a serious contagious disease, or that your presence at the school would be detrimental to the other students. You can appeal this decision to the school board. If you are excluded by a principal from a school, you can still attend another school within the board.

Being expelled or getting an expulsion means that you wonít be allowed to go to your school.  A principal cannot expel you but can recommend that the school board expel you at an expulsion hearing. You must receive notice of the date of the hearing and information about the hearing.  The expulsion hearing must be held within 20 days of the beginning of your suspension, unless you agree to have it heard later.  At the hearing the school board trustees (at least three) decide if you should be expelled or not and the type of expulsion. There are two types of expulsions: one from your school only, in which case you will be assigned to another school; the other expulsion is from all schools in your school board and you will be assigned to a program for expelled students.  When you have successfully completed the program you can return to a school.  

All expulsions can be appealed to the Child and Family Services Review Board.

Being expelled from school is very serious and can make it difficult for you to succeed in school or even graduate with your peers. If you might be expelled, you should take it very seriously and find out what your rights are. For more detailed information read our pamphlet on expulsions.