To be followed by authorities and board when an appeal is made.
Whenever the legal rights of a student may be affected by officials exercising legal decision-making authority, there is an expectation that the decision will be made in accordance with the principles of "procedural fairness" and "natural justice". These principles encompass the following elements:
- If a decision-maker (e.g., a principal or authority) is intending to consider a matter which may affect a person’s rights, that person should be informed of the matter.
- The person should be given a reasonable opportunity to make oral or written submissions to the decision-maker on the matter being considered.
- The person is entitled to know and answer the case against them, that is to say, be informed of and be given the opportunity to respond to all information submitted which might influence a decision, prior to the decision being made.
- The person should be told the reasons for the decision.
- The decision-maker should act in a manner which is unbiased, fair and open-minded.
Student and Parent Appeal Guidelines
- Students need to be treated with respect and dignity and to know what is expected of them. The school authority/board and the school will enact codes of conduct and rules that are clear and well communicated.
- In accordance with school policy, a student who is accused of breaching a rule should be notified of that of which he/she is accused, with the essential facts of what he/she is alleged to have done. In more serious cases, notification should also be given to a student’s parents.
- An accused student should be given an opportunity to tell his/her side of the story. The right to be heard is a fundamental element of procedural fairness. Where the stakes are minor, this can be satisfied by the principal or teacher asking the student to explain her/his actions. More serious matters require more formal investigation and documentation.
- The student and parent will be informed of any appeal or review procedure in accordance with school policy.
- There should be an assurance of no retribution for pursuing an appeal or review. Pathways Academy’s school authorities and board will ensure no bias occurs when an appeal is made by following these guidelines:
- Don’t prejudge the evidence of the circumstances of the student’s case or give the appearance (e.g. in public statements) of having done so, even if you have strong convictions on such matters.
- When selecting persons to hear a case or an appeal of a decision, avoid those who have a close out-of-school relationship, family ties, or an adversarial relationship with the student or student’s family, or a staff member who is closely involved in the incident.
- If a person (e.g. principal, staff member, or committee member) has made a previous decision, or has been a member of a committee that has made a previous decision, that now is under appeal, such a person should only participate in the appeal for the purpose of providing testimony. Such a person should not participate in decision-making at appeal levels.
- An appeal-hearing committee should not hear or receive evidence that will not be shared with the other party in the dispute. The committee will not receive evidence or representation from administrators or staff in the absence of the person appealing.
How to Make an Appeal
A minor infraction may be appropriately dealt with by an informal meeting between the principal or teacher and the student.
A decision respecting the possible suspension or expulsion of a student would be dealt with by the school authority/board. In this case the student would be given:
- reasonable notice of the proposed suspension or expulsion which clearly sets out the grounds being relied on; this gives the student and his/her parents an opportunity to prepare a response;
- a hearing at which the student has an opportunity to present reasons why the proposed action should not be taken. Oral and/or written submissions will usually be appropriate with respect to expulsions or lengthy suspensions;
- the opportunity for the student to present witnesses;
- a fair and unbiased decision based upon the evidence presented;
- a timely decision with written reasons.
If Fair Process is not Followed
If the principal and/or the board is unable to resolve the appeal fairly, the Office of the Ombudsperson may become involved to provide oversight.