On March the 15th CADDAC met with the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario to discuss the office’s role. This meeting was a follow-up to our e-mail outlining issues that parents in Ontario were having accessing support for their children with ADHD in schools.
While the Ombudsman’s Office wished to make sure that we clearly understood their role (see below), they did state that if a parent had followed the school hierarchy, from principal to superintendent, when voicing their concerns and felt that unresolved issues remained around policy and procedure a complaint could registered with the Ombudsman. Some examples of things that would be under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman’s office:
- The lack of a clear written policy on access to special education resources and an IPRC and IEP for students with ADHD. (Request a copy of the written policy on anything that you are told. Many statements made by schools and boards are not actually policies.)
- Inconsistencies in process of applying a policy such as the inconsistent identification of students with special needs.
- Not sharing the actual policy or the correct policy with parents.
If you feel that these administrative procedures have not been followed then it would make sense to contact the Ombudsman’s office. CADDDAC presented our understanding of the issues and complaints have been filed in the past, so the office is well aware that issues do exist. They are prepared to follow-up if complaints fall within their jurisdiction.
CADDAC has been advised that if we are aware of individuals who continue to have administrative concerns with any organization that falls under the Ombusman’s authority, we are to encourage them to contact the Office of the Ontario Ombudsman by calling their intake line at 1-800-263-1830, or filing an online complaint form at https://www.ombudsman.on.ca/have-a-complaint/make-a-complaint.
For further information on how the Office can help with these situations: https://www.ombudsman.on.ca/Media/ombudsman/ombudsman/Documents/Complaints-about-SCHOOL-BOARDS-EN-accessible_1.pdf
Information on the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario
The office is appointed under the Ombudsman Act as an independent and an impartial Officer of the Ontario Legislature. The Ombudsman reviews and investigates the administrative conduct of provincial public sector bodies, including school boards and the Ministry of Education. The Ombudsman’s focus is on administrative issues and not matters of broader public policy. The Ombudsman does not act on behalf of or as an advocate for individual complainants, and does not provide legal advice and they do not advocate for a change in policy or procedure.
With respect to school boards, once a complaint is filed the office would review the board’s administration, including their adherence to, and application of policies and procedures. The Ombudsman may make recommendations to resolve problems we identify with the administrative conduct of a school board or to enhance governance and improve processes. The Ombudsman’s office cannot overrule or reverse the decisions of school boards and does not have the authority to direct school boards on what decisions to make, or substitute his opinion for that of the elected board of trustees.
The office is intended to be an office of last resort. This means the Office will not intervene in a matter if the individual has not first addressed the issue with the organization and exhausted its internal complaint, appeal or resolution processes. Generally, the Office will refer the individual to any such process before we review the matter to determine the nature and extent of our role, if any. The individual is able to return to the Office if he/she remains dissatisfied after exhausting the organization’s internal processes.