CAP’s Education Law Program is Pro Bono Law Ontario’s free legal service for low and moderate-income families whose children face challenges to their rights at school. Lawyers help students and their parents understand their legal rights and negotiate solutions when they feel unable to resolve conflicts with school administrators and officials.
Common problems include:
- Unfair and unlawful suspensions, expulsions, exclusions or transfers;
- Inability to access accommodation for special needs/disabilities;
- Being denied the right to attend school;
- Bullying, harassment and school safety issues.
People rarely think of these as legal problems. However, eash issue is rooted in Education and Human Rights Law and administered according to precise legal rules and procedures. Although school administrators are required to uphold the law, their decisions sometimes reflect ignorance or avoidance of correct legal procedure, and even small violations in any of these areas can have a significant impact on a child’s education.
CAP lawyers can help in three ways:
- By consulting with students and families on their legal rights;
- By intervening on behalf of students with school administrators (by letter, phone or in person);
- By representing students at tribunals or hearings.
I have school concerns. How do I know if it’s time to get legal help?
1. Has your child been sent home, suspended or expelled, with no written letter from the school?
2. Has your child been kept from attending, or enrolling in, school?
3. Does your child get repeatedly suspended?
4. Is your child being denied special education services?
5. Has your child been denied an IPRC meeting?
6. Has your child’s IEP been changed without your consent?
7. Is your school ignoring complaints about harassment or bullying?
When you feel shut out by your child’s school and unsure about your rights and obligations under education law…it may be time to get legal help.
Applying For Help
If you think the Education Law Program could help you, please call and speak with PBLO’s Coordinator to discuss your case and program eligibility before applying.
If you are ready to apply to the program, simply complete the CAP application form. You will find it at the link provided below. Fill in all parts of the application form. Instructions are included on the form. You will receive a response within two to three days of submitting the application form.
If you are eligible to participate in the program, we will immediately begin to search for a lawyer to speak with you. The time to locate an available lawyer varies, depending upon the type of case and our current caseload.
Pro Bono Law Ontario acknowledges the financial support of The Law Foundation of Ontario.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will it cost me anything to see a lawyer?
Our lawyers work for free, however, you may need to pay any charges such as photocopying or filing fees, known as disbursements.
Who is eligible for assistance from the Education Law Program?
The program assists students and their families who would otherwise be unable to afford a lawyer. Each family is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Your case must have legal merit and you must meet our financial eligibility criteria.
When should I call the Education Law Program?
Call us as soon as you think you might need advice or to help you understand your rights.
What can a lawyer do for my child?
It varies by case. At the first meeting, your lawyer will discuss with you the extent of their involvement in your case.
I do not need legal representation, but want to discuss my child’s legal rights. Can a lawyer just give me advice?
Yes. All our lawyers start by discussing your concerns and giving you advice. In many cases, this is all that is needed.
We live outside of Toronto. Can you still help my child?
The Education Law Program is a province-wide program. We will try to find a lawyer in your community. However, if there is no lawyer in your community, we will look for a lawyer elsewhere who is willing to provide remote assistance.
It’s not always obvious, but many school problems are legal problems. Lawyers are effective because:
- They are trained in education law and legal strategy.
- They have no personal relationship with the student/family and can be an impartial advocate.
- School boards have lawyers representing them, so when a student has a lawyer, it levels the playing field.
- A lawyer’s involvement commands attention; problems are often solved more readily once the lawyer gets involved.
- A lawyer can help parents or guardians learn to be effective advocates for their kids.