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Can I appeal a suspension?

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Can I appeal a suspension?
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Justice for Children and Youth
Ontario Ministry of Education

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Can I appeal a suspension?
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Reviewed: 
December 15, 2020
Answer

A suspension means that you are not allowed to attend school or any school-related activities. Only your principal can suspend you. The maximum suspension is 20 school days.

Students from kindergarten to grade 3 cannot be suspended.

Your parent can appeal to cancel or shorten the suspension. Older students can appeal without their parents. You can appeal a suspension and handle all education matters on your own if:

  • you are at least 18 years old, or
  • you are 16 or 17 years old and have withdrawn from parental control. Withdrawing from parental control usually means you have left your parents' home and they do not control what you do anymore.

Principal must give written notice

If you are suspended, the principal must give you and your parent a written notice right away. The notice will explain:

  • the reason for suspension
  • the length of the suspension
  • how to appeal

The notice may also give you information about a program for suspended students that you must attend. Programs for suspended students usually happen at a different school building in your school board. Only students who have been suspended for more than 5 days need to attend this program.

If you do not get written notice right away, you should ask the principal for it.

Deadline to appeal

You must submit an appeal within 10 school days of when the suspension began. You don't need to use any special forms. You can just write a letter or email to the supervisory officer of the school board saying you want to appeal. The notice from the principal will include the supervisory officer's name and contact information.

You and the principal will be the parties at the hearing. You can represent yourself or have a lawyer.

Some of the school board's trustees will be in charge of the hearing. They will decide whether your suspension should be cancelled, shortened, or remain the same.

Get legal help

A lawyer can represent you at an appeal hearing. For help finding a lawyer experienced in education law, call Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY) at 1-866-999-5329. JFCY lawyers usually do not attend suspension appeals, but they can help you find a lawyer who can attend with you.

More serious behaviour

The principal may conduct an investigation during your suspension if your behaviour was serious. The investigation will help them decide whether they think you should be expelled. You cannot appeal your suspension until the investigation is over.

If the principal thinks that you should be expelled, then you will have an expulsion hearing. Read more about expulsion hearings here.

Even if the principal does not think you should be expelled, they may still think you should be suspended. You can appeal the suspension by writing to the supervisory officer. If you want to appeal after the principal conducts an investigation, you must appeal within 5 school days of when the principal tells you about the outcome of the investigation.

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