Mahony Educational Advocacy

Educational Advocacy

Regarding the IPRC request letter any any other letter you share with schools…
Care should be given to be positive in your interactions with your child’s school and the school board as well as other service providers.  This is particularly true with email and social media.  It is normal to experience considerable frustration and anxiety when trying to obtain appropriate support for your child.  It is not helpful , however, to allow your frustration to seep into your interactions with staff.  Keep written correspondence as neutral and positive as you can.  It is helpful to get a friend or family member to edit material before you send it.  
Effective Practices –  Start and use a  School Log/Contemporaneous record.  

As with any interaction with the school related to yourchild’s needs, consider recording the key events related to the school and your child on paper. Use a bound note book.  Print or hand write, write objective statements.  Use statements that are positive and display a patient, positive but focussed attitude on your part. Date the entry.

Sample Entry (to be written or printed)

October 15.  Spoke to Ms. Patel. I asked for an IPRC.  Ms.  Patal suggested that an IPRC was not needed at this time. I replied that the school was offering needed support for Emily and I wished to have an IPRC to formalize Emily’s status. I said I would send a note to the principal. 
What the Regulation say…
The ability for a parent/ guardian to request am IPRC is found in Regulation  181/98, Subsection 14.1 (link)

14. (1) The principal of the school at which a pupil is enrolled,

(a) may on written notice to a parent of the pupil; and

(b) shall at the written request of a parent of the pupil,

refer the pupil to a committee established by the board, for a decision as to whether the pupil should be identified as an exceptional pupil and, if so, what the placement of the pupil should be. O. Reg. 181/98, s. 14 (1).

 This right is also found in most School Board Guide to Special Education programs and Services as mandated by the Ministry of Education. This guide will be likely located somewhere on your Board’s website and is generally found when using Google and searching Parents Guide to Special Education Programs and Services along with your Boards name.  

The Toronto District School Board is the largest Board in the province and has a wonderful website.  This right to request an IPRC is found a s follows on the  TDSB Guide.

“How is an IPRC meeting requested?The principal of your child’s school: May, with written notice to you, refer your child to an IPRC when the principal and the child’s teacher orteachers believe that your child may benefit from a special education programMust request an IPRC meeting for your child, upon receiving your written request.”Within 15 days of receiving your request, or giving you notice, the principal must provide you with a copy of this guide and a written statement of approximately when the IPRC will meet.

TDSB Guide. 

The ministry document special education in Ontario – kindergarten to grade 12 – 2017 also includes this parental bright on page D38

If you can’t your Board’s website, or if the Guide does not include this ability, the right still exists. Interestingly, psalm school board parent guide to special education do not seem to include this material.

It would be rare that a child like Emily would be denied access to a school and/or at least some level of programs and services. However, schools could conceivably respond in a variety of less productive ways including:
 Providing for no support.
 Providing a limited support.
 Allowing for unsafe situations to occur.
 Denying entry/registration until some future meeting.
 Denying entry into the school 
We will explore strategies based on regulations and law to encourage schools to comply with their obligations later on.

 Two weeks later.


Emily’s mother, though pleased with the support and engagement from the school asks Ms. Patel, the Resource Teacher, if they could identify Emily through through a Individual Placement  and Review  Committee. (IPRC).

 Possible Responses

 The School promptly begins to schedule and I PRC.
 The special education teacher/principal/other staff respond with some combination of the following…
 They do not IPRC children until grade ?
 They do not IPRC children unless they are to be moved into a special ed class/get educational assistant support/etc…
 They can provide the child with appropriate support without having an IPRC.

 To Identify Or Not Identify…   This article explores the identification question in the ASD context.  Spoiler alert.   There is no question.

 Let’s’ assume that the school was in someway reticent to schedule an IPRC.

The principal, Ms. Smith, responded by arranging to speak to the mother that morning. She immediately spoke to the school’s special education resource teacher as well as the classroom teacher to talk to them about Emily and her needs. The school also allocated an educational assistant for part of the day to provide support.

 Comment: The principal and the school acted appropriately by taking immediate action to provide initial programs and services and to collaborate with the parent.

 Relevant legislation and legal principles.

30. 9. (1) In accordance with requirements under the Education Act, no pupil is to be denied an education program pending a meeting or decision under this Regulation. O. Reg. 181/98, s. 9 (1).

 The concreteness of the visual impairment makes it obvious and  self evident  that Emily should be in school.  It is also always clear that a child with a visual impairment should and could be identified with an exceptionality. The above regulation states that programming and services must not wait until the child is identified.

 The Education Act states that all children have a right to be school.

33. (1) A person has the right, without payment of a fee, to attend a school in a school section, separate school zone or secondary school district, as the case may be, in which the person is qualified to be a resident pupil.  1997, c. 31, s. 13.

Ontarios human rights regimen would also come into play if the school in any way either denied or limited access to school or denied or limited appropriate accommodations for Emily to have meaningful access to education.

Under the Code, education providers in both the publicly funded system and in private schools have a legal duty to accommodate students with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship. Ontario Human Rights Commission – Elementary and Secondary Education

In Emily’s case if you were a dispute her right to be registered in school. However, children with other needs help at times encounter difficulties registering their children. We will explore this possibility in the next post.

The case of Emily

 Emily Green is six years old and is of  grade one age .

 She has moved from another province.

 She is visually impaired. She blindness is profound.

 Emily has a medical diagnosis of profound vison impairment.

 There is no concern about or evidence of any other limitation or condition.

 There are no behavioural or safety issues.

 Emily has no system in place to allow her to access the curriculum. The other children can look at pictures and learn to read and print and draw but Emily cannot.

 In September her mother, Ms. Green, walked into the neighbourhood community school on the first day to register her daughter.  She also asked to meet immediately with the principal to talk about her daughter.

Let’s explore the rights and responsibilities of both parents and schools with regard to Emily. In that her visual impairment is fairly straightforward, The way forward, entrenched in legislation and law will seem intuitively obvious and born of commonsense.


The need to understand fundamental special education regulations is an essential component of solid advocacy.

In 2007, the Ontario Ministry of Education released the resource document Shared Solutions – A Guide to Preventing and Resolving Conflicts Regarding Programs and Services for Students With Special Education Needs

Shared Solutions points to a remedy to the power imbalance felt by parents..


“Conflicts may also arise if parents and/or educators are not fully informed about

ministry regulations and policy documents with respect to regular and special

education. As well, it is important for all parties – educators, other professionals,

students, and parents – to be aware of their roles and responsibilities in

the planning, implementation, and monitoring of special education programs

and services.”  Shared Solutions, p.14

Shared Solutions also points toward a key plank of the special education platform in the second paragraph of its Overview of Special Education. (Page 6)

“The children and youth who require special education programs and services are a diverse group. Some students with special education needs are formally identified by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC);”


The center piece of Special Education in Ontario Schools is the Individual Placement and Review Process.  When the special education regimen in Ontario was created, the legislature  made the IPRC the pivotal process where the parental common law rights of procedural fairness were found.


Therefore, our initial work here will be to understand the IPRC thoroughly. Doing that, however, we will look at many concepts that are intertwined and flow through the IPRC.


As we progress through a series of scenarios I will identify what I believe are pivotal, important aspects of the process as well as areas and concepts that often can, although mandated in legislation and cited in tribunal decisions, be less than familiar to some educators.

I beginning to plan to hold a series of Advocacy workshops across Ontario. I’m imagining an intensive workshop that really focusses on practical take away skills.

I would appreciate any thoughts regarding topic areas to cover, venues, locations, towns to cover, people I should talk too, etc…

I’m also looking for any comments if my workshops have been helpful to you.

I am looking to Sept 2019 to begin.

Ed Mahony

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