Currently, there are no AODA education standards. However, two AODA standards development committees have drafted recommendations of guidelines that AODA education standards should include. One committee has recommended guidelines for the kindergarten to grade twelve (K-12) education system. In this article, we outline a recommended dispute resolution process for students with disabilities.
The committee’s mandate from the Ontario government requires recommendations focused on the publicly-funded K-12 school system. However, students and educators with disabilities also face barriers in other school settings, including:
- Private schools
- Pre-school programs, such as early literacy programs
Therefore, all these settings should comply with the forthcoming K-12 education standards.
Dispute Resolution Process for Students with Disabilities
Students, their families, school staff, and other stakeholders must work together to arrange and implement accommodations in school. In some cases, parents and staff may disagree about the most appropriate accommodation for a student, or how to implement that accommodation. In other words, disputes may arise between students’ families and school boards. For instance, some topics where disputes may arise are:
- Working with community-based services
- Professional assessments to identify disability needs
- Creating or implementing an individual education plan (IEP)
- Decisions from an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC)
- Exclusions from school
- Transportation to and from school, or during field trips
The Committee recommends fair, fast, and clear processes to resolve disputes in many of these situations. For example, recommendations require each school board to develop and implement processes for resolving disputes related to IEPs. Similarly, the Committee recommends fair procedures for school exclusions of students with disabilities. However, multiple processes with different rules could confuse and frustrate families and staff. As a result, the Committee recommends that the Ministry of Education should create one singular dispute resolution process. Families in school boards across Ontario can use the same process to resolve disputes in more than one area of a child’s education.