ROBERT KIRWAN, O.C.T., B.A. (Math), M.A. (Education



Parents Have a Right To Be Represented

IPRC and IEP Procedures Take On Increased Significance As A Result of Recent Human Rights Tribunal Ruling

My Responsibilities As Your Representative

The special education process can be very intimidating for parents. As you can see from the online publication I have provided for parents at the following link, there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to accessing special education services from school boards today.


The Ministry of Education places some very strict requirements on School Boards when it comes to funding. Therefore, since the provision of special education programs and services to children are so expensive, there are some rules and regulations that must be adhered to by principals when it comes to serving the children in their school. When you read the PARENT'S GUIDE TO THE that I have written as an online publication, you will learn more about most of those requirements and how they might apply in your situation.

This means that a rather large team of "experts", including your child's teachers, principal, the school special education teachers, board consultants, and at times outside professional practitioners all provide input into what they think is best for your child. This is all prepared in advance of the formal Implementation, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) meeting businesses,businessmen,businesswomen,communications,conferences,discussions,meetings,people,persons,Photographsthat you are invited to attend where you will be given some recommendations about the services that your child will be provided, if any, to meet his/her specific needs.

Let me state that IT IS A GOOD THING that there are so many professional educators examining your child's past and present progress in order to come up with what they feel is a program that will meet his/her needs. This is something that you want and the school is in the best position to produce the relevant information for your child.

However, if you try to go through this process yourself, you may find that you soon get caught up in the emotions of being a parent and ultimately leave the meeting thoroughly confused about what has happened and not absolutely certain that your child's needs have been addressed to your satisfaction. Sitting at a board room table all by yourself, or even with your spouse, while a group of three to six professionals are discussing your child's needs can be quite overwhelming. Before you know it the meeting is over and you have agreed to a program without completely understanding what you have accepted.

That is why it is never a bad idea to bring your own Independent Education Advisor along with you at the meeting to ask the right questions and to explain exactly how the recommendations will impact upon your child. The results of an IPRC meeting are legally binding and will have a financial impact on the operation of a school board. It makes sense for you to be represented at the table by your own advisor.

This is one of the services I provide through my practice. 

In order to understand the need for bringing along your own representative, look over the short article that I have inserted below about a recent ruling by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and consider the implications it has with respect to special education services for children in the future. The Human Rights Tribunal merely emphasized the importance of clearly understanding what is happening during the IPRC and IEP process. What you are agreeing to will have long-lasting implications for your child. It makes sense for you to make sure that the IPRC gets it right the first time and that your child's needs are well looked after. Keep in mind that this is not a way of becoming confrontational with the school. It is merely a matter of you, as parent, being clear in your own mind about what is being decided for your child.

IPRC and IEP Procedures Take On Increased Significance As A Result of Recent Human Rights Tribunal Ruling

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has made a recent ruling that could have significant ramifications for parents of children with special needs. The ruling also emphasizes the importance of parents having appropriate independent representation with them during IPRC meetings.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario considered an application brought under the Human Rights Code alleging that the Toronto District School Board discriminated against a high school student by failing to provide a special education program that met the student’s disability-related needs. In Schafer v. Toronto District School Board (February, 2010) the Tribunal dismissed the student’s application noting that the Tribunal is not a proper avenue to appeal decisions by the Special Education Tribunal. The Tribunal further held that there was no evidence that the accommodations provided by the TDSB were significantly inappropriate or inadequate. 


The Ontario Education Act recognizes that students with special needs will not receive equal educational services without appropriate accommodations and therefore requires school boards to accommodate such students by providing special education programs which aim at the identification and placement of students with special needs.

The statutory obligation for school boards with respect to special education is set out in the Education Act and provides that an “exceptional pupil” is a student whose “behavioural, communicational, intellectual, physical or multiple exceptionalities are such that he or she is considered to need placement in a special education program.”  

The Act thus requires that all exceptional pupils in Ontario have available to them appropriate special education programs and special education services.  Regulations under the Act provide additional details for special education programs and for the identification and placement of exceptional pupils.

Previous Tribunals have upheld that the purpose of special education programs is the accommodation of children with special needs so that they are able to receive the benefits of education that are available to others. The goal of school boards, therefore, is to find appropriate accommodations for students who have been identified as exceptional.

The Human Rights Tribunal also pointed out that the Education Act provides mechanisms for parents to participate in decisions made under special education programs, namely the IPRC process. The Education Act also provides an avenue for parents to appeal decisions made by the IPRC, including as a last stage, a hearing before the Special Education Tribunal which has been established under the Education Act.

All of these details can be found in the Online Publication at the link below:


The details of the actual case referred to above in the recent hearing is not really all that important except for the fact that there could be many other similar situations cropping up throughout the province in the not-so-distant future. This particular case involved a boy who was identified as exceptional and who was suspended a couple of times during the year. He claimed that the Board had failed to provide him with special education services that met his disability-related needs. The student also claimed that the imposition of two suspensions was discriminatory because the School Board did not take adequate account of the student’s disabilities in determining the boy's responsibility for his behaviour or the appropriate penalty.

The Tribunal stated that it did not have the jurisdiction to rule on the actions of the TDSB and whether or not it complied with the Education Act.  The only issue the Tribunal could consider was whether the student experienced discrimination under the Human Rights Code.

It is normal procedure that an Applicant in a human rights Application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has the burden of establishing that it has a case that merits consideration by the Tribunal. Otherwise anyone could simply make an Application just to create problems and make things uncomfortable for the Respondent. Therefore, unless the student could establish a prima facie case of discrimination, the TDSB would not be required to respond in the recent case.

In this situation, the Tribunal held that: “in special education cases, it is self-evident that a child with special needs is unable to access the education systems without accommodations.”  Therefore, the prima facie case was apparent as far as the Tribunal was concerned and they decided to hear the evidence from both sides. After the TDSB presented its evidence as to how it had accommodated the student, the parents were asked to present their evidence as to why the accommodation was inadequate.

At this point it is important to note that the duty to accommodate includes rights and duties, called substantial requirements, as well as procedural requirements that are in place for enforcing those rights and duties. 


The first very important statement from the Tribunal was that: “So long as there are steps taken to assess the child’s needs and prepare accommodations, then generally the procedural standard of the duty to accommodate will be met.”

The second statement was that: “As long as the substantive accommodations as recommended in the IPRC and IEP are generally implemented, the substantive standard of the duty to accommodate will be met.”

With respect to the substantive accommodations, which refer to the rights of the student to special education services, the Tribunal also made it clear that “the issue is not whether the accommodations implemented are what the student or parent wanted, whether they were the ideal accommodations, or whether other accommodations would have been equally appropriate.”

The Tribunal was only concerned with whether the TDSB implemented the general recommendations of the IPRC or IEP in order to meet the child’s needs. 

It is worth pausing for a few moments to take this section in again. 

The Tribunal, which was ruling on whether or not the school board had discriminated against the boy, stated that the appropriateness or quality of the recommendations of the IPRC or IEP were not the issue. In other words, the IPRC and the teacher making up the IEP, may not have come up with the best of accommodations for the student, but what was important was that they could prove that they actually  implemented the general recommendations. The key word here is "general".


This case has very serious implications moving forward for parents of children who may be in need of special education programs and/or services.

First, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario made it very clear that parents who do not agree with the decisions of a school board with respect to the treatment of their child with special needs will not be able to successfully file an Application under the Human Rights Code. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario will not accept responsibility for enforcing the Education Act.

Second, and perhaps the most important implication, is that the implementation of the accommodations recommended in the IPRC and IEP will meet the substantive standard of the duty to accommodate. In other words, it becomes especially important for parents to be clearly aware of the decisions that are made at the IPRC meeting because those decisions will be sufficient in meeting the obligations of the school board in satisfying their duty to accommodate. Therefore, if there is anything that a parent disagrees with, the matter must be dealt with immediately and appealed through the proper channels if necessary.

This is another reason why a parent should have a representative attend the IPRC meeting and review the IEP when it is developed. The services listed below will give you an idea of what a representative can do for you. This is one of the services I provide through my practice at The Greater Sudbury Learning Clinic.


The Ontario Special Education Tribunal has made it clear that if parents are dissatisfied with the IPRC’s decision as to either identification or placement they must comply with the Education Act which states: "Where a parent or guardian of a pupil has exhausted all rights of appeal under the regulations in respect of the identification or placement of the pupil as an exceptional pupil and is dissatisfied with the decision in respect of the identification or placement, the parent or guardian may appeal to a Special Education Tribunal for a hearing in respect of the identification or placement."

This means that parents may not “skip” any steps. They must adhere to all time lines and follow all possible avenues of appeal if they are not satisfied in order for their case to be heard by the Ontario Special Education Tribunal. Some parents may wish to skip some of the steps feeling that it is a waste of time to go through all of the steps. Unfortunately, if they do decide to go straight to the Ontario Special Education Tribunal with out going to the SEAB, then the school board is within its rights to claim that the Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to hear the matter.

This again is another reason for parents to make sure that they have a representative to take them through the process. There are several procedures that must be adhered to and there are time lines that must be followed. It tends to be somewhat overwhelming when a parent is also emotionally tied to the child.


First of all, if you have a child who is, will be, or should be receiving special education services from the school board, you will be involved in a long, on-going process that will likely take you through the rest of your child's years at least in elementary school and perhaps into secondary school grades.

The services I provide are extremely helpful if this is your first experience with the IPRC process, but even if you have been going through this for years, you may still not be completely sure of what it is all about. Worse still, you may not be totally satisfied that the school is doing everything possible to help your child. In any case, having a professional representative who can speak for or with you at the meeting will certainly add a great deal of confidence to you when the meeting takes place and will be well worth the investment in the long run.

Let me describe the different steps that we will go through if I am to be hired as your representative in this matter.


The first thing I need to find out is exactly what your child's current situation is regarding his progress in school and what services, if any he is already receiving. We will meet at your house to discuss your child's situation, have a look at his previous reports, school work, etc. so that I get a good idea of what your child's needs are. I will also find out what you, as your child's parents have experienced in previous dealings with the school and more importantly, exactly what you feel you would like to have provided in terms of a special education program or services.



You will normally be invited to a pre-meeting at your child's school where one of the staff members or the principal will go over all of the documents and reports that will be used at the IPRC meeting.

In legal terms, this is what you might call "disclosure" of all of the material that will be brought up to make the decision about the program or services that will be provided to your child. I will attend this pre-meeting with you so that we can clarify any items of contention or request further clarification.

Some schools simply send you the material in a package in advance of the IPRC meeting. If that is the case, then I will come over to your home to review the package so that we can prepare some questions and/or responses for the actual IPRC meeting.

If the date of the IPRC meeting is coming close and you still have not had the Pre-meeting or received the information package, I will contact the school on your behalf to make sure we receive it well before the meeting.



I will attend the actual IPRC meeting with you. We will have discussed a strategy for the meeting in advance and I will be there to assist you in the discussion, or speak for you directly if that is your wish.. 

In any event, I will be able to "ask the right questions" and seek input from the school representatives so that you are completely aware of what is happening and we are clear about the committee's recommendations.

This will allow us to engage in the discussion with the rest of the group as a party of two, or even three if you and your spouse attend.


Depending on the outcome of the IPRC meeting, the review and follow-up may be short and sweet or it may involve some of the elements of an appeal process. I always recommend that we take the IPRC summary statement home to have another look at it before signing. 

As you read through the PARENT'S GUIDE TO THE SPECIAL EDUCATION PROCESS you will see that you have several options open to you if you are not completely satisfied with the decision of the committee. 

Whatever the situation may be, I will assist you with the review and follow-up of the report.


Once we are satisfied with the resultS of the IPRC, you will eventually receive an I.E.P. (Individual Education Plan) for your child. 

I will meet with you to review the details of the I.E.P. so that we are satisfied that the plan does in fact address the decisions and recommendations of the I.P.R.C. 

Once we have completed this stage you will allow the remainder of the school year to unfold and you will monitor your child's progress.


If during the course of the year there are some questions or concerns that come up, I will be available to you for consultation. In most cases these consultations can be done over the phone.


If your child has been identified as exceptional by the IPRC, you will be invited to another IPRC meeting each year for a review. At this point, you may feel comfortable about going to the meeting on your own, or you may contact me to act as your representative once again. 

Usually there is not quite as much preparation and/or follow-up for the annual reviews since I will already know your child and I will be well aware of what he has been receiving with respect to services up to this time.


The total fee for this representation will obviously be dependent upon the number of hours required for the services I provide. However, based on past experience and knowledge of the process, you can count on a minimum of six hours of my time being devoted to representing you in this matter if things are fairly straight forward. If things become complicated, in which case you will definitely appreciate my services even more, then it could come to 10 or 12 hours.

If you are already a client of The Greater Sudbury Learning Clinic, meaning that your child is receiving personal tutoring services from one of my instructors, then the rate for this service will be $36 per hour, which is the same rate that is being charged for your tutoring services. You will provide a retainer of $400 in advance and I will either invoice you for any amount that this retainer does not cover, or I will apply any surplus to pay for future hours of tutoring for your child. In any event, all services you receive from myself or from one of my instructors will be based on a rate of $36 per hour. You will receive and itemized summary of the time that has been required for me to represent you in this matter.

If you are not a client of The Learning Clinic, the rate will be $80 per hour. A retainer of $500 will be required in advance and I will invoice you for any amount that this retainer does not cover.

Alternatively, if you are not yet a client of The Learning Clinic Tutoring Agency, but you wish to access tutoring services for your child following the IPRC process, then your rate will be based on $36 per hour, with any surplus from the $500 retainer being applied to pay for future hours of tutoring instruction for your child.


If you would like more information, do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience. There is no charge for a phone call to find out more about this service.

You can call me seven days a week between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. at:

(705) 969-7215

or email me at


The Learning Clinic is The Private Practice of
Robert Kirwan, B.A. (Math), M.A. (Education), OCT
4456 Noel Crescent, Val Therese, ON P3P 1S8
Phone: (705) 969-7215    Email:

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