Over the last several months, Legal Aid Ontario has been talking to people in the community about issues related to its Racialized Communities Strategy. Through it all, we have heard one concern raised again and again by community members, community agencies and staff at community legal clinics: more needs to be done to support children in conflict with the education system.
The available data supports this concern:
The Toronto District School Board released data in 2013 for the 2006/7 school year, which revealed that Black students make up only 12% of high school students, but account for more than 31% of suspensions.
In a 2003 Ontario Human Rights Commission report, most of those interviewed identified discrimination as the main reason why racial minority and disabled students are more often disciplined.
Here is some information to help you understand what your school can suspend or expel you for and what you can do if it happens to you.
What can I be suspended or expelled for?
Your school can suspend or expel you for doing any of the following on school property, while doing a school-related activity, or if your actions will hurt the school.
|Reasons for suspension||Reasons for expulsion|
What are my rights?
At both suspension and expulsion hearings before a committee of at least three school board trustees, you have a right to:
- have a lawyer represent you,
- call witnesses and present your side of the story,
- cross-examine witnesses, and
- explain if there are other things that the board needs to consider.
School board trustees will then decide to:
What is Legal Aid Ontario doing to help?
Legal Aid Ontario is providing funding to two projects that will be run by three organizations to help Black students facing suspension or expulsion hearings. We will also continue to work with communities to find other ways to help break the ‘school-to-prison-pipeline’ cycle.