Working Together to Resolve Differences
Parents Working with Schools and School Systems
Alberta schools are required to make every reasonable effort at the school and district level to resolve concerns collaboratively with you as parents. Despite these efforts, when you do not agree with a decision related to your child's educational programming at school, your first step is to talk to the teacher to try to resolve the concern together. If that fails, your next step is to talk to the school's principal or assistant principal. Together with the teacher and school administration, you should be able to resolve most issues that affect your child at school.
The teacher and school administration may not be able to resolve the concern with you, and they may refer you to a staff member at the central office of the school system. If, after this step, you still do not agree with the staff member's decision, you should write or telephone the school superintendent and explain your concern. If the concern is not resolved by the superintendent, you may apply in writing to the school board chairman to initiate a board-level appeal.
All school boards are required to have a board-level appeal procedure. You may use the board-level appeal procedure when you disagree with any decision that significantly affects the education of your child. Your school board office can provide you with a copy of its appeal procedures for you to follow.
The process of a board-level appeal must be open, fair and timely. Procedural fairness includes the right to be heard and the right to an unbiased decision. The appeal process must be open; that is, all relevant information must be shared with you and others involved in the appeal. The appeal process must also be timely in completing each step so that you and the school board personnel have time to prepare, but the process is not delayed unnecessarily.
Some of Alberta's school systems make provision for mediation of disputes. Mediation can occur at any point during the appeal process, and requires that both the school system and the parents agree to a third party working with them to resolve the dispute. Both parties to the dispute must agree to the mediator, and either party may end the mediation process at any time. The mediator will try to bring the parties together on a consensus, or agreement, about how the problem will be solved. Both parties will sign the agreement.
The Final Step
If you don't agree with the board's decision after the board hearing, you may request in writing that the Minister of Education conduct a Review by the Minister for specific decisions. Under the School Act of the Province of Alberta, the Minister may review a board decision on a matter that board and parents have not been able to solve with respect to placement in a special education program, Francophone Charter 23 issues, an expulsion decision, home education matters, the amount and payment of fees, and accuracy or completeness of a student record.
Student Health Services
School systems coordinate, but do not have responsibility for providing some student health services to your child.
One way that school systems coordinate student health services for students is through a partnership agreement. All school systems have an agreement with their local Student Health Partnership (SHP) to provide student health-related services for children and students.
Local SHP's, consisting of school authorities, the regional health authority, including mental health, and the child and family services authority, work together to develop a joint service plan that determines how they will respond to the special health needs of children and students within their region.
Each local SHP has a dispute resolution process in place which addresses:
If you have a concern about the student health services for your child, you may contact school administration at your child's school for information about the SHP local dispute resolution process. School administration will have the contact information at hand.
You may find more information about Student Health at http://education.alberta.ca/admin/studenthealth.aspx
For more information please contact your local school or school jurisdiction central office.