Safe and Accepting Schools - Progressive discipline, suspensions, expulsions
What is the Safe and Accepting Schools policy?
The Peel board's Safe and Accepting Schools policy is based on the provincial Education Act and the Ontario Code of Conduct. It sets clear standards of behaviour for students, staff, parents, volunteers and any other individuals involved in public education. Each school also develops its own code of conduct that is based on provincial legislation and Peel board policies. Follow this link to review the Peel District School Board's Safe and Accepting Schools policy.
Progressive discipline is an approach that makes use of a continuum of interventions, supports and consequences, building upon strategies that promote positive behaviours. The range of interventions, supports, and consequences used will be clear and developmentally appropriate, and will include learning opportunities for students in order to reinforce positive behaviours and help students succeed. For students with special education and/or disability related needs, interventions, supports and consequences will be consistent with the expectations in the student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and/or their demonstrated abilities.
Students who behave inappropriately will face a range of progressive discipline interventions and consequences that may include, but are not limited to: oral reminders, contact with parents, withdrawal of privileges, referral to counselling, suspension and/or expulsion. All factors that may have affected the student's behaviour will be considered before progressive discipline is applied.
A Parent's Guide to the Suspension and Expulsion Process
As a parent, your child's safety and well-being are important to you. At the Peel District School Board, we understand and share that priority. We are committed to providing safe, inclusive and accepting environments that support learning and working for all. To help students achieve to the best of their ability, we all work together to ensure that students feel safe, nurtured, welcomed, respected and included.
For learning to be successful, schools must be free of negative factors such as bullying, discrimination, intimidation, hateful words and actions, and physical violence in any form. The Peel board supports the teaching and promotion of positive behaviour through the application of preventative programs and measures as well as a number of progressive discipline strategies, including suspension and expulsion where necessary, as consequences for inappropriate behaviour.
What is a suspension?
All suspensions range between one and 20 school days. Suspensions between six and 20 school days are referred to as long-term suspensions. During a suspension, students are not permitted to ride the bus to school, enter the school building or come onto school property for any reason for the duration of the suspension. In addition, the student may not attend any school-related activities, functions or events, even if he was expected to participate in these activities.
What activities may lead to a suspension?
Only principals have the authority to suspend students. A principal will consider whether to suspend a student if they believe the student has engaged in any of the following activities while at school, at a school-related activity, or in any other circumstances where the activity has a negative impact on the school climate:
What do principals take into account when considering a suspension?
- uttering a threat to inflict serious bodily harm on another person
- possessing alcohol, illegal, controlled and/or restricted drugs
- being under the influence of alcohol, illegal, controlled and/or restricted drugs
- swearing at a teacher or at another person in a position of authority
- committing an act of vandalism that causes extensive damage to school property at the student's school or to property located on the premises of the student's school
- bullying, including cyber-bullying
- any act considered by the principal to be detrimental to the moral tone of the school
- any act considered by the principal to be detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of members of the school community
- any act considered by the principal to be contrary to Peel board or school codes of conduct
In some situations, students involved in the same inappropriate activity may receive different consequences. For example, one student may not get suspended and another student might be suspended as a result of the same behaviour, or one student's suspension might be longer than another student's suspension.
Principals work through a careful and thorough process when deciding whether to suspend a student and for how long. When addressing inappropriate behaviour, principals must consider the particular student and circumstances of the incident, the nature and severity of the behaviour, its impact on the school climate, and many other factors. The principal must consider mitigating factors, which are defined by the Ministry of Education as:
- whether the student has the ability to control their behaviour
- whether the student has the ability to understand the foreseeable consequences of their behaviour
- whether the student's continuing presence in the school creates an unacceptable risk to the safety of any other individual at the school
Other factors that must be considered include:
- the student's academic, discipline and personal history
- whether other progressive discipline has been attempted with the student, and if so, the progressive discipline approach(es) that has/have been attempted and any success or failure
- whether the infraction for which the student might be disciplined was related to any harassment of the student because of their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ability or any other attribute
- the impact of the discipline on the student's prospects for further education
- the student's age
- in the case of a student for whom an Individual Education Plan (IEP) has been developed:
- whether the behaviour was a manifestation of a disability identified in the student's IEP
- whether appropriate individualized accommodation has been provided
- whether a suspension is likely to result in aggravating or worsening the student's behaviour or conduct or whether a suspension is likely to result in a greater likelihood of further inappropriate conduct
How do parent(s)/guardian(s) find out about a suspension?
When students are suspended, the principal will make every reasonable effort to let their parents know within 24 hours. This will be followed by a letter notifying them about the suspension. The letter will include important information, such as:Can suspensions be appealed?
Yes. All suspensions can be appealed to the school board. If an expulsion is not being considered, the suspension can be appealed within 10 school days of the beginning of the suspension. Your child will remain suspended until the appeal is resolved.
In order to appeal a suspension, parent(s)/guardian(s) must submit a written request to the school's superintendent of education. A student who is no longer under parental control may submit an appeal on their own behalf. The appeal will be heard or determined within 15 school days of receiving your notice of intention to appeal, unless the parties have agreed to an extension.What happens once I submit the request to appeal?
Once a request for an appeal is received, the superintendent of education will:
Who sits on the Discipline Committee?
- in the case of a student for whom an Individual Education Plan (IEP) has been
- inform the principal and the superintendent of leadership development and school support
- let you know that a review of the suspension will take place prior to the appeal
- contact you to discuss the incident and the suspension appeal
- review the suspension, including the reason, duration and any mitigating or other factors
- consult, if necessary, with the principal and superintendent of leadership development and school support about changing or expunging the suspension
- request a meeting with you and the principal to discuss the suspension and to try to reach a settlement
- arrange a date for an appeal before the Discipline Committee if a settlement is not reached, and provide you with the review decision
The Discipline Committee is a formal committee of the board which consists of trustees who are authorized to act on behalf of the Peel board in disciplinary matters involving suspension appeals and expulsion hearings.I would like to move ahead with the appeal. What can I expect to happen next?
When a suspension remains in place after the review process and you wish to continue the appeal, the superintendent of education will:
Who can be party to the appeal?
- prepare a written report for the board that will contain at least the following components:
- a report of the incident and the principal's rationale for suspending the student
- a copy of the original suspension letter
- a copy of the letter requesting the suspension appeal
- a copy of any correspondence related to the superintendent of education's review of the suspension
- inform you of the date of the suspension appeal, and provide you with a guide to the appeal process and copies of the documentation that will be provided to the Discipline Committee
- ask the superintendent of leadership development and school support to place the appeal on the agenda for an upcoming meeting of the Discipline Committee
The parties in an appeal to the Discipline Committee include the principal, and the adult student or the student's parent(s)/guardian(s), if they appealed the decision.
You and/or your child may be represented by legal counsel at the suspension appeal. If you wish to be represented by a lawyer, you must include that in your letter indicating your intention to appeal.
A student who is not a party to the appeal has the right to be present at the appeal and to make a statement on their own behalf.What can I expect at the suspension appeal?
Suspension appeals will be heard orally, in-camera, by the Discipline Committee.
- The person appealing will begin by making an oral statement and/or providing written submissions regarding the reason for the appeal and the desired result. The committee may allow a person with daily care authority, e.g. a grandparent, to make submissions on behalf of the student.
- The student will be asked to make a statement on their own behalf.
- The superintendent of education and the principal will make oral statements on behalf of the administration, including a response to any issues raised in the appellant's submissions.
- The person appealing may make further submissions addressing issues raised in the administration's presentation that were not previously addressed by the appellant.
- The Discipline Committee may ask any party or the student questions of clarification.
Legal counsel for the board may be present at the appeal if the appellant is represented by legal counsel or an agent.
An appeal may proceed in the absence of any party if proper notice regarding the appeal's location, date and time was given.What could the Discipline Committee decide at the appeal?
The Discipline Committee will consider, based on the written and oral submissions of both parties, whether the decision to suspend was reasonable under the circumstances, and will either:
- confirm the suspension and its duration
- confirm the suspension, but shorten its duration and amend the record
- withdraw the suspension and order that the record be expunged, or
- make another decision the committee considers appropriate
The Discipline Committee's decision is final and will be communicated to the appellant in writing.What activities resulting in a suspension may also lead to an expulsion?
The principal may consider recommending to the board that a student be expelled if they believe that the student has engaged in any of the following activities while at school, at a school-related activity, or in any other circumstances where the activity has a negative impact on the school climate:
- possessing a weapon, including possessing a firearm or knife
- 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, illegal, controlled and/or restricted drugs
- committing robbery
- giving alcohol, illegal, controlled and/or restricted drugs to a minor
- bullying, if the student has previously been suspended for engaging in bullying and the student's continued presence in the school creates an unacceptable risk to the safety of another person
- an act for which the student can be suspended that is motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other similar factor
- an act considered by the principal to be significantly detrimental to the moral tone of the school and/or to the physical and mental well-being of others
- a pattern of behaviour that is so inappropriate that the student's continued presence is detrimental to the effective learning and/or working environment of others
- activities engaged in by the student on or off school property that cause the student's continuing presence in the school to create an unacceptable risk to the physical or mental well-being of others in the school or Peel board
- activities engaged in by the student on or off school property that have caused extensive damage to the property of the Peel board or to goods that are/were on board property
- any act considered by the principal to be a serious violation of the Peel board or school codes of conduct
When a student is on a suspension pending expulsion, the principal must conduct an investigation to determine whether to recommend expelling the student. The investigation will begin promptly following the suspension. Based on this investigation, the principal may decide to recommend to the board that your child be expelled.What is an expulsion?
Expulsions may apply to only the student's current school or to all Peel board schools. If a student is expelled from only their current school, they will not be permitted on school property or school buses, and will not be able to participate in any school-related activities. If the Discipline Committee issues an expulsion from all Peel board schools, the student may only attend the Fresh Start program for expelled students. Expelled students will not be permitted on any other school property, and will not be able to participate in any activities that are connected to any other schools in the Peel board.
Unlike suspensions that last for a specific period of time, expulsions don't have a time limit. A student expelled from only their school will be assigned by the board to another school and they may only return to the prior school with permission. A student expelled from all Peel board schools cannot return to school until they satisfy the objectives of a program for expelled students. Once this has been done, a letter requesting readmission should be sent to the superintendent of education. The board, through the Alternative Program Review Committee, will re-admit a student if they have successfully met the program's objectives. Once met, a re-entry plan will be created for the student's transition back to school.How will my child continue their education while on suspension/expulsion?
The board is committed to providing suspended and expelled students an opportunity to continue their education by providing an educational program and support to help students meet their learning goals.
Elementary students will be supported in continuing to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills outlined in the Ontario curriculum. Secondary students will be supported in continuing to earn credits towards their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
As has been done in the past, school work will be provided to all suspended students to help ensure program continuity. School work will be provided within a reasonable time frame depending on the length of the suspension.
Students who are suspended between six and 20 school days will be offered the board's Fresh Start program. While these students attend Fresh Start, they will continue with the work that is provided by the home school classroom teachers.
Expelled students will be offered the board's Fresh Start program for expelled student. Once a student chooses to attend a program for expelled students, Fresh Start teachers will take over the student's educational programming.
When a student makes a commitment to attend a Fresh Start program for suspended or expelled students, a Student Action Plan will be developed. If a student on a six to 20 day suspension does not participate in a Fresh Start program, some sections of the Student Action Plan will still need to be completed. For students heading towards a possible expulsion, the entire Student Plan will be completed whether or not the student attends the Fresh Start program. The plan will be reviewed with the student and/or their parent(s)/guardian(s) at a planning meeting.
Transportation to and from the Fresh Start program is a parent and student responsibility.Can expulsions be appealed?
Yes. All expulsions can be appealed to the Child and Family Services Review Board within 30 school days of receipt of the decision to expel. Should you wish to appeal, you may contact the Child and Family Services Review Board at 416-327-4673 or 1-888-728-8823. Your child will remain expelled until the appeal is resolved.About this parent guide
This guide reflects the legislated changes required by Bill 212. It has been produced by Leadership Development & School Support Services and Communications and Community Relations Support Services.Questions?
Contact your child's principal or vice-principal, or call 905-890-1010 (or 1-800-668-1146) ext. 2640. You can request a copy of the entire policy from the school or download it from the Peel board website at www.peelschools.org