Special Education in Ontario

The Education Act requires that school boards provide special education programs and services for their exceptional pupils. The Education Act defines an exceptional pupil as “a pupil whose behavioural, communicational, intellectual, physical or multiple exceptionalities are such that he or she is considered to need placement in a special education program”.


Exceptional pupils are identified through a meeting of a school board Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC). The IPRC decides whether a student should be identified as exceptional, what the student’s exceptionalities are, and the appropriate placement for the student. The IRPC reviews the identification and placement once a year.


Parents can submit a written request to the principal of their child’s school to arrange an IPRC meeting. The principal can also refer the student to an IPRC meeting, with written notice to the parent. The principal must notify the parent of when the IPRC will meet. Parents and students 16 years of age or older may participate in the meeting and be present when the committee’s identification and placement decision is made.


If the parent does not agree with either the identification or placement decision made by the IPRC, he or she may:



  • within 30 days of receipt of the decision, file a notice of appeal with the secretary of the board; or
  • within 15 days of receipt of the decision, request that the IPRC hold a second meeting to discuss their concerns. If the parent does not agree with the decision after the second meeting, he or she may file a notice of appeal within 15 days of receipt of this decision.



If the parent does not consent to the IPRC decision and does not appeal it, the board will instruct the principal to implement the IPRC decision.


An appeal of the IPRC decision is heard by a special education appeal board. The appeal board will receive the material reviewed by the IPRC and may interview any persons who may be able to contribute information about the appeal. The parents, and students who are 16 years or older, are allowed to participate in the appeal. Within 3 days of meeting, the appeal board must make its recommendations. It may agree with the IPRC’s decision or make its own decision about the student’s identification and placement.


The parent may accept the decision of the school board, or may appeal to a Special Education Tribunal. The parent may request a hearing by writing to the secretary of the Special Education Tribunal.