The Education Act

The provisions governing special education in Ontario were introduced into the Education Act by the Education Amendment Act, 1980, more commonly known as Bill 82. Since that time, some of the original provisions contained in Bill 82 were removed or amended to reflect language and program evolution, based on research, changing practices and policy environments. However, Bill 82 stands as a landmark in special education in Ontario, and its principal provisions remain in the Education Act. These include:

  • the responsibility of school boards to provide (or to agree with another board to provide) in accordance with the regulations, special education programs and special education services for their exceptional pupils (paragraph 7 of subsection 170(1));
  • a special education program is defined as an educational program that is based on and modified by the results of a continuous assessment and evaluation of the pupil and that includes a plan (now referred to as an Individual Education Plan) containing specific objectives and an outline of the educational services that meets the needs of the exceptional pupil (subsection 1(1));
  • the responsibility of the Minister (Subsection 8(3)):
    • to require school boards to implement procedures for the early and ongoing identification of the learning abilities and needs of students;
    • to define exceptionalities of pupils and to prescribe classes, groups or categories of exceptional pupils and to require the use of these definitions by school boards;
    • to provide an appeal process for parents concerning special education identification and/or placement decisions;
    • to ensure that special education programs and services are provided without payment of fees by school boards to their exceptional pupils in accordance with the Education Act and the regulations;
  • the establishment of Ontario Special Education Tribunal(s) to hear appeals brought by parents and to make final and binding decisions concerning the identification or placement of an exceptional pupil.