Special Education in Ontario (Draft Version, 2017)

PART B: Standards for School Boards' Special Education Plans

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Regulation 306, made under the authority of the Education Act, requires every school board to maintain a special education plan. As set out in the standards in this part of the guide, the special education plan shall be made available to the ministry for review and be publicly accessible. In Part B, the main text of the original policy document entitled Standards for School Boards' Special Education Plans (2000) has been reproduced in full. That is, the standards remain unchanged. Three of the appendices from the original document are also placed in Part B; the rest of the appendices are placed at the end of the parts in the present document to which they are now most closely related. Some terminology has been updated as necessary. Cross references to information in other parts of the present document have been added where needed.

Introduction

On January 27, 2000, the Minister of Education announced the government's plans for improving the quality of special education programs and services in Ontario and for ensuring greater accountability in the area of special education. This document describes the new province-wide standards that school boards must meet when developing their special education plans. These standards support the government's goal of ensuring that exceptional students in Ontario receive the best-quality education possible. System-wide implementation of these standards will make school boards more accountable to students, parents, and taxpayers.

School boards must comply with the requirements for special education plans set out in Regulation 306 under the Education Act, entitled “Special Education Programs and Services”, and in this policy document. These requirements for standards build on requirements for school boards' special education plans previously set out in memoranda from the ministry.

In accordance with Regulation 306, each school board is required, every two years, to prepare and approve a report on the special education programs and special education services provided by the board, and to submit it to the ministry. Each board is required to maintain a special education plan, to review it annually, to amend it from time to time to meet the current needs of its exceptional students, and to submit any amendment(s) to the Minister for review.

One of the purposes of a school board's special education plan is to inform the Ministry of Education and the public about special education programs and services that are provided by the board in accordance with legislation and ministry policy on special education.

Beginning in 2001, the Ministry of Education will review each school board's special education plan to determine whether it complies with the standards mentioned above. The aim of the review is to ensure that certain standards are maintained across the province in the development and provision of special education programs and services. Where the ministry determines that a board's plan does not comply with the standards, the ministry will require the board to amend its plan. Amending the plan will include responding to identified omissions. Boards will make the necessary changes and submit the amendments to the ministry the following year.

Regulation 306 permits the Minister, at any time, to require a board to amend its special education plan in a manner that the Minister considers necessary so as to ensure that the board provides special education programs and services to meet the current needs of the exceptional students of the board.

The Board's Consultation Process

Purpose of the Standard
To provide details of the board's consultation process to the ministry and to the public

Requirements of the Standard
In developing and modifying their special education plan, boards must take into consideration issues and feedback from members of the community such as parents, members of school councils, community organizations, and students. This public consultation, which takes place with the assistance of the board's Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC), must be maintained on a continuous basis throughout the year.

The board's special education plan must describe the consultation process and must include the following materials:

  • a statement of how, in accordance with Regulation 464/97 made under the Education Act, the board ensures that its SEAC is involved in the annual review of the board's special education plan
  • a description of any majority or minority reports concerning the board's approved plan that have been received from members of the board's SEAC
  • the board's response to these reports
  • a statement of how members of the community, particularly parents of children who are receiving special education programs and services, are informed of the timelines and methods for providing input into the board's special education plan
  • a summary of feedback received as a result of consultation with members of the community

The special education plan must also provide information on the results of any internal or external reviews of existing special education programs and services within the board that have taken place in the previous or current school year. A list of internal and external reviews of the board's special education programs and services that are planned for the following year must also be included.

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review each school board's special education plan to ensure that these materials are included and that the consultation process meets the ministry's requirements. The ministry will review the SEAC's reports and summary of parent feedback to determine whether concerns have been raised about possible inconsistencies between the board's plan and priorities and legislation and ministry policy and whether the board's response adequately addresses these concerns.

Special Education Programs and Services

The Board's General Model for Special Education

Purpose of the Standard
To provide the ministry and the public with information on the board's philosophy and service-delivery model for the provision of special education programs and services

Requirements of the Standard
The school board's special education plan must outline in detail the board's general philosophy and service-delivery model for the provision of special education programs and services. The board's special education plan must be designed to comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Education Act and regulations made under the act, and any other relevant legislation. The board must include a statement in the plan confirming that the plan has been designed in accordance with this requirement.

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review each school board's special education plan to ensure that the above information is included.

Roles and Responsibilities

Purpose of the Standard
To provide the public with information on roles and responsibilities in the area of special education

Requirements of the Standard
The board's special education plan must provide information on the roles and responsibilities of the following in the area of special education in Ontario (for a summary of roles and responsibilities, see the Roles and Responsibilities in Special Education section in Part A1 of this guide):

  • the Ministry of Education
  • the school boards
  • the board's SEAC
  • principals and teachers of the board
  • parents or guardians
  • students

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that the roles and responsibilities given in the board's plan are consistent with ministry policy.

Early Identification Procedures and Intervention Strategies

Purpose of the Standard
To provide details of the board's early identification procedures and intervention strategies to the ministry and to the public

Requirements of the Standard
As stated in Policy/Program Memorandum No.11, “Early Identification of Children's Learning Needs”, boards must have in place “procedures to identify each child's level of development, learning abilities, and needs”, and they must “ensure that educational programs are designed to accommodate these needs and to facilitate each child's growth and development”. The board's special education plan must explain these procedures for school staff and for parents and other members of the public. The plan must also include the statement that “these procedures are a part of a continuous assessment and program planning process which should be initiated when a child is first enrolled in school or no later than the beginning of a program of studies immediately following Kindergarten and should continue throughout a child's school life” (Policy/Program Memorandum No. 11).

The school board's special education plan must contain a description of the following:

  • the guiding principles or philosophy used by the board for early identification of children's learning needs
  • the teacher's role in early identification
  • the parent's role in early identification
  • policies and procedures on screening, assessment, referral, identification, and program planning for students who may be in need of special education programs and services
  • procedures for providing parents with notice that their child is having difficulty
  • procedures used within the board for referring a student for an assessment (e.g., an assessment by an in-school team or by professional resource staff) should learning problems be identified that might result in the student's being referred eventually to an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) (these procedures include notifying parents and involving them in the process)
  • procedures for providing parents with notice that their child is being considered for referral to an IPRC
  • procedures for providing parents with notice that their child is being considered for a special education program and related services if the child is not referred to an IPRC
  • the types of assessment tools/strategies used to gather appropriate information on students in order to assist in the development of appropriate educational programs
  • the types of early intervention strategies that are used to support students prior to referral to an IRPC

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that all of the above information is included and that the board's early identification procedures and intervention strategies are relevant and appropriate.

The Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC) Process and Appeals

Purpose of the Standard
To provide details of the board's IPRC process to the ministry and to the public

Requirements of the Standard
A board's special education plan must include a description of the board's IPRC process, as well as the number of IPRC referrals, reviews, and appeals conducted within the board in the previous school year.

The plan will also include a copy of the board's guide for parents. At a minimum, the parents' guide to special education must contain the information set out in the sample guide that is included in Appendix D-1 in Part D of this guide. The guide gives parents information on the procedures involved in identifying a student as exceptional and determining the student's placement, as well as information on appealing the decision of the IPRC if the parents do not agree with the decision.

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that the plan includes the above information.

Educational and Other Assessments

Purpose of the Standard
To provide details of the board's assessment policies and procedures to the ministry and to make parents aware of the types of assessment tools used by the school board, the ways in which assessments are obtained by IPRCs, and the ways in which assessments are used

Requirements of the Standard
A board's special education plan must provide information on the types of assessment tools used within the board, including educational assessments for students who are in need of special education programs and services.

For each type of assessment tool described, the school board's special education plan must include the following information:

  • the qualifications of categories of staff who conduct the assessment and/or provide diagnoses; that is, staff who are governed by the Education Act; the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1993; the Health Care Consent Act, 1996; or other legislation, as appropriate (the board must specify which legislation applies)
  • average waiting times for assessments to be conducted and the criteria for managing waiting lists if they exist
  • an acknowledgement that requirements for obtaining parental consent are met prior to conducting the assessment
  • an explanation of how results of an assessment are communicated to parents
  • a description of protocols for sharing information with staff and outside agencies
  • an explanation of how the privacy of information is protected

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that the above information has been provided and that the content is consistent with ministry policy.

Specialized Health Support Services in School Settings

Purpose of the Standard
To provide details of the board's specialized health support services to the ministry and to the public

Requirements of the Standard
A board's special education plan must describe the provision of specialized health support services for students who require them in school settings. The plan must outline specific information about each type of specialized health support service provided by Community Care Access Centres (CCACs),2 school board staff, or other service providers. The board must provide this information using the form supplied in Appendix B-1.

For each type of specialized health support service described, the plan must describe the following:

  • the agency or the position of the person who performs the service (e.g., CCAC, board staff, parent, student)
  • eligibility criteria for students to receive the service
  • position of the person who determines whether a student is eligible to receive the service and what the level of support will be
  • criteria for determining when the service is no longer required
  • review or appeal procedures (if any) available for parents who dispute the provision of these services, including any time limits on requesting reviews or appeals

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that the above information is provided and that the content is consistent with ministry policy.

Categories and Definitions of Exceptionalities

Purpose of the Standard
To make information on the categories and definitions of exceptionalities available to the public, including parents and community associations

Requirements of the Standard
A board's special education plan must list the ministry's categories and definitions of exceptionalities (see the Categories of Exceptionalities section in Part A of this guide), and must describe the ways in which the board's IPRC applies them in making decisions on identification and placement.

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that the information provided is consistent with the ministry's categories and definitions of exceptionalities, and that these are the terms used by the IPRC in its statement of decision.

Special Education Placements Provided by the Board

Purpose of the Standard
To provide the ministry and the public with details of the range of place­ments provided by the board, and to inform the public that placement of a student in a regular class is the first option considered by an IPRC

Requirements of the Standard
The board's special education plan must:

  • describe the ways in which the board's SEAC is involved in providing advice on determining the range of placements offered;
  • acknowledge that placement of a student in a regular class is the first option considered by an IPRC;
  • outline ways in which a student can be integrated into the regular classroom when the placement meets the student's needs and is in accordance with the parents' preferences;
  • outline specific information about each type of placement provided at the elementary and secondary levels;
  • list for each category of exceptionality the range of placement options available, along with the criteria for admission, the admission process, and the criteria for determining the level of support provided in each placement, including the board's criteria for assigning intensive support for students who are in need of a great deal of assistance;
  • state the maximum class size for each type of special education class;
  • list the criteria used for determining the need to change a student's placement;
  • describe the alternatives that are provided when the needs of a student cannot be met within the board's range of placements and the ways in which the options are communicated to parents.

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that the above information is provided and that the content is consistent with ministry policy and the appropriate legislation, including Regulation 181/98.

Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

Purpose of the Standard
To inform the ministry and the public about the ways in which the board is complying with ministry requirements for implementing IEPs

Requirements of the Standard
The school board's special education plan must describe the following:

  • the board's plan for implementing the ministry's standards for IEPs (see Part E of this guide for more information on the IEP)
  • any processes for dispute resolution where parents and board staff disagree on significant aspects of the IEP
  • the board's results of the ministry's review for the previous year, along with the board's plans for a response to these results (when available)

The school board must include a copy of its IEP form (see Appendix E-2 in Part E of this guide for a sample IEP template) in the plan.

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that all of the above information is included and that the board's procedures are consistent with ministry policy on the IEP.

Provincial and Demonstration Schools in Ontario

Purpose of the Standard
To provide the public with information about the Provincial and Demonstration Schools that are operated for students who are Deaf, blind, or deafblind, or who have severe learning disabilities, which may include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Requirements of the Standard
The school board's special education plan must include the following:

  • information on programs and services offered by Provincial and Demonstration Schools that is provided by the ministry in the Provincial Schools and Demonstration Schools section in Part F of this guide
  • current statistics, by program, on the number of students who are qualified to be resident students in the board who are currently attending Provincial and Demonstration Schools
  • information about how transportation is provided for students to and from the Provincial or Demonstration School, including transportation of an assistant, if necessary

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that it includes the information listed above.

Special Education Staff

Purpose of the Standard
To provide specific details on board staff to the ministry and to the public

Requirements of the Standard
The school board's special education plan must include information on the types of staff who provide special education programs and services. The board must complete and include the form in Appendix B-2, outlining the range of programs and services offered and the qualifications required for the categories of staff listed on the form.

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that it includes the information noted above and that staff providing the programs and services have the appropriate qualifications.

Staff Development

Purpose of the Standard
To provide details of the board's professional development plans for special education staff to the ministry and to the public

Requirements of the Standard
The board must outline its plans for the professional development of its special education personnel. The special education plan must describe the following:

  • the overall goal of the special education staff development plan
  • ways in which staff provide input for the plan
  • ways in which the school board's SEAC is consulted about staff development
  • methods of determining priorities in the area of staff development
  • courses, in-service training, and other types of professional development activities offered by the board
  • ways in which staff are trained with regard to the legislation and ministry policy on special education, with particular attention to training for new teachers
  • details of the board's budget allocation dedicated to the staff development plan in the area of special education
  • any cost-sharing arrangements with other ministries or agencies for staff development
  • ways in which school board staff are made aware of the board's special education plan and of professional development opportunities

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that it includes the information listed above, that it reflects the implementation of any new legislation or ministry policy, and that it reflects the results of consultation described above.

Equipment

Purpose of the Standard
To inform the ministry, board staff members and other professionals, and parents about the provision of individualized equipment for some students with special needs

Requirements of the Standard
The school board's plan must describe how the board determines whether a student requires individualized equipment, such as assistive technology, and how the board allocates its budget for equipment, including the criteria used for purchasing individualized equipment.

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that it includes the information noted above.

Accessibility of School Buildings

Purpose of the Standard
To provide the ministry with further details of the board's multi-year plan, which was previously submitted to the ministry, for improving accessibility for students with physical and sensory disabilities, and to provide the public with this information

Requirements of the Standard
The school board's special education plan must include the following:

  • a summary of the board's multi-year capital expenditure plan for improving accessibility to its school buildings, grounds, and administration offices, including resources dedicated to providing barrier-free access in the coming school years
  • a statement outlining how members of the public can obtain a copy of the complete plan from the board
  • a summary of the board's progress in implementing the capital expenditure plan

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that it includes the information listed above and that it shows that progress is being made in improving physical accessibility in schools.

Transportation

Purpose of the Standard
To provide details of the board's transportation policies to the ministry and to the public

Requirements of the Standard
The board's special education plan must describe the types of students with special needs who are eligible to receive transportation and the ways in which these students can access the transportation. The types of students are as follows:

  • students in special education programs, including students who are in regular classrooms
  • students in educational programs in care and/or treatment, custody, and correctional facilities
  • students attending Provincial and Demonstration Schools
  • students who require transportation in order to attend summer school programs

The special education plan must also describe the following:

  • the process for deciding whether a student with special needs will be transported with other children or whether it is in the best interests of the student to be transported separately
  • the safety criteria that are used by the board in the tendering and the selection of transportation providers for exceptional students (e.g., drivers must have first-aid training; wheelchairs must be secured during transit; a criminal record check must be done on drivers)

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that it includes the information listed above and that the content complies with ministry policy and the legislation.

The Board's Special Education Advisory Committee

Purpose of the Standard
To provide details of the operation of the board's SEAC to the ministry and to give members of the public information to which they are entitled

Requirements of the Standard
The board's special education plan must provide the following information concerning its SEAC:

  • names and affiliation of members
  • meeting times and locations
  • a contact address, telephone number, and/or e-mail address for each member
  • procedures for selecting members
  • where applicable, a note that a board has membership to represent the interests of First Nations, M├ętis, and Inuit students

The plan must provide a description of ways in which the board's SEAC fulfilled its roles and responsibilities during the school year in which the plan was developed. This description should include information on the documentation that has been provided to the SEAC to enable it to fulfil its responsibilities. The roles and responsibilities of the SEAC are as follows:

  • making recommendations to the board with respect to any matter affecting the establishment, development, and delivery of special education programs and services for exceptional students within the board
  • participating in the board's annual review of its special education plan
  • participating in the development of the board's annual budget for special education
  • reviewing the financial statements of the board as they relate to special education

The plan must also include a description of ways in which parents and other members of the public can make their views known to the SEAC.

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that it includes the information listed above and that it is consistent with Regulation 464/97.

Coordination of Services with Other Ministries or Agencies

Purpose of the Standard
To provide the ministry and the public with details of the board's strategies to ensure a smooth transition for students with special needs who are entering or leaving a school

Requirements of the Standard
The special education plan must provide specific details about advance special education planning that is done for students with special needs who are arriving from other programs, such as the following:

  • preschool nursery programs
  • preschool programs for students who are Deaf
  • preschool speech and language programs
  • intensive early intervention programs for children with autism
  • care and/or treatment, custody, and correctional facilities
  • programs offered by other boards of education

The special education plan must indicate whether it is the board's policy or practice to accept assessments accompanying the students from these programs or whether it is the board's policy or practice to reassess all incoming students. If reassessment is the policy or practice, the plan must state the estimated waiting time for completing an assessment.

The special education plan must also provide details about the way in which information is shared for students leaving the board to attend programs offered by other school boards or by care and/or treatment, custody, and correctional facilities.

In the special education plan, the board must identify the position of the person responsible for ensuring the successful admission or transfer of students from one program to another.

Compliance with the Standard
The ministry will review the school board's special education plan to ensure that it includes the information listed above and that the content is consistent with the legislation and with ministry policy.

Submission and Availability of School Board Plans

Each board is required to make its special education plan available to the public at the same time that it submits the plan to the ministry. The board must inform the public in a variety of ways about how to access the plan. If the board maintains a website, the board is required to include information on ways in which members of the public may access the plan, and is encouraged to make the plan available on the website.

Two copies of the special education plan approved by the school board, and any amendments, must be forwarded to the local district office of the Ministry of Education.3 The complete plan must be submitted along with the following documents:

  • a letter from the director of the school board4 that confirms that the school board's special education plan is being submitted in compliance with the requirements of Regulation 306 and with the standards outlined here
  • a copy of the board's motion of approval of the plan, including the date of approval
  • a copy of any related motions or recommendations from the board's SEAC

Appendix B-1: Specialized Health Support Services

Specialized Health Support Service Agency or position of
person who performs the service
Eligibility
criteria for students to receive the service
Position of person who determines eligibility to receive the service and the level of support Criteria for determining when the
service is no longer required
Procedures for resolving disputes about eligibility and level of support (if available)

Nursing

Occupational therapy

Physiotherapy

Nutrition

Speech and language therapy

Speech correction and remediation

Administering of prescribed medications

Catheterization

Suctioning

Lifting and positioning

Assistance with mobility

Feeding

Toiletting

Other

Appendix B–2: Special Education Staff

Elementary Panel

Special Education Staff FTEs Staff Qualifications

1. Teachers of exceptional students

1.1 Teachers for resource-withdrawal programs

1.2 Teachers for self-contained classes

2. Other special education teachers

2.1 Itinerant teachers

2.2 Teacher diagnosticians

2.3 Coordinators

2.4 Consultants

3. Educational assistants in special education

3.1 Educational assistants

4. Other professional resource staff

4.1 Psychologists

4.2 Psychometrists

4.3 Psychiatrists

4.4 Speech-language pathologists

4.5 Audiologists

4.6 Occupational therapists

4.7 Physiotherapists

4.8 Social workers

4.9 Subtotal

5. Paraprofessional resource staff

5.1 Orientation and mobility personnel

5.2 Oral interpreters (for Deaf students)

5.3 Sign interpreters (for Deaf students)

5.4 Transcribers (for blind students)

5.5 Interveners (for deafblind students)

5.6 Auditory-verbal therapists

5.7 Subtotal

Secondary Panel

Special Education Staff FTEs Staff Qualifications

1. Teachers of exceptional students

1.1 Teachers for resource-withdrawal programs

1.2 Teachers for self-contained classes

2. Other special education teachers

2.1 Itinerant teachers

2.2 Teacher diagnosticians

2.3 Coordinators

2.4 Consultants

3. Educational assistants in special education

3.1 Educational assistants

4. Other professional resource staff

4.1 Psychologists

4.2 Psychometrists

4.3 Psychiatrists

4.4 Speech-language pathologists

4.5 Audiologists

4.6 Occupational therapists

4.7 Physiotherapists

4.8 Social workers

4.9 Subtotal

5. Paraprofessional resource staff

5.1 Orientation and mobility personnel

5.2 Oral interpreters (for Deaf students)

5.3 Sign interpreters (for Deaf students)

5.4 Transcribers (for blind students)

5.5 Interveners (for deafblind students)

5.6 Auditory-verbal therapists

5.7 Subtotal


Appendix B-3: Ministry of Education Regional Offices

Barrie Regional Office, Ministry of Education
20 Bell Farm Road, Unit 9, Barrie, ON L4M 6E4
Tel: 705–725–7627; 1–800–471–0713

London Regional Office, Ministry of Education
217 York Street, Suite 207, London, ON N6A 5P9
Tel: 519–667–1440; 1–800–265–4221

Ottawa Regional Office, Ministry of Education
1580 Merivale Road, Suite 504, Nepean, ON K2G 4B5
Tel: 613–225–9210; 1–800–267–1067

Sudbury/North Bay Regional Office, Ministry of Education
199 Larch Street, Suite 1103, Sudbury, ON P3E 5P9
Tel: 705–474–7210; 1–800–461–9570

Thunder Bay Regional Office, Ministry of Education
615 South James Street, 1st Floor, Thunder Bay, ON P7E 6P6
Tel: 807–474–2980; 1–800–465–5020 (only available for area code 807)

Toronto and Area Regional Office, Ministry of Education
Sun Life Financial Building, 3300 Bloor Street West,
16th Floor, Suite 3610, Etobicoke, ON M8X 2X3
Tel: 416–212–0954; 1–800–268–5755


1. The position of early childhood educator (ECE) is included in Part A of this guide but is not listed here. ECEs were not on staff in schools at the time of writing of the Standards document, in 2000. Boards should include ECEs in their special education plans.
2. In December 2016, Ontario passed the Patients First Act, which will help patients and their families obtain better access to a more local and integrated health care system, improving the patient experience and delivering higher-quality care. As part of the Patients First Act, all services that were previously offered by Community Care Access Centres have been transferred to Local Health Integration Networks. Community Care Access Centres are no longer operational.
3. For a list of the Ministry of Education Regional Offices, see Appendix B-3.
4. In the case of school authorities, this letter would be provided by the secretary of the school authority.

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