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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

For Parents/Guardians of Students with Exceptionalities

What is a special education program?
A special education program is defined in the Education Act as an educational program that:

  • Is based on and modified by the results of continuous assessment and evaluation; and
  • Includes a plan (called an Individual Education Plan or IEP) containing specific objectives and an outline of special education services that meet the needs of the exceptional pupil.

What are special education services?
Special education services are defined in the Education Act as the facilities and resources, including support personnel and equipment, necessary for developing and implementing a special education program.

What special education programs and services are provided by Rainbow Schools?
The Rainbow District School Board provides special education programs and services for all of its exceptional students. Support includes assessments, modified curriculum expectations, alternative curriculum expectations, accommodations and/or an adaptive environment. Human resource support is also provided.

Who is identified as an exceptional pupil?
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 a placement in a special education program by a committee.” Students are identified according to the categories and definitions of exceptionalities provided by the Ministry of Education and Training.

I think my child has a special need or learning disability that the school hasn’t identified. What should I do?
First, you should meet with your child’s classroom teacher or the school principal. Every school also has a special education consultant. In addition, school officials can provide you with the names of parent support groups such as the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario.

Where can I find out more about special education or my child’s exceptionality?
Your school can provide you with A Parent’s Guide to Special Education, a booklet produced by the Rainbow District School Board. You will also find information on this website. The principal of your Rainbow school is also an excellent contact person.

Access A Parent's Guide to Special Education

How can my child receive special education support?
Your first contact regarding the special needs of your child is with your child’s teacher and principal. Special education support is often initiated through your school. You will be involved in a discussion at the school to determine the type and range of supports your child needs. You or the school may ask for an Identification, Placement and Review Committee Meeting (IPRC). This committee, in discussion with you and your school, may recommend a more intensive level of support. All decisions regarding special education supports are made in consultation with parents/guardians.

Who is the primary contact person(s) for my child’s special education support?
At the elementary level, initially, the classroom teacher is the primary contact person. The involvement of the special education teacher and other professionals increases as the process moves through the steps. At the secondary level, the special education program leader and/or the special education resource teacher will be the main contact for exceptional students.

What are the ministry’s provincial and demonstration schools?
The ministry operates provincial and demonstration schools throughout Ontario for deaf, blind, deaf-blind, and severely learning disabled students, as well as those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Residential programs are offered at the schools Monday to Friday, for students who live too far from school to travel daily.

What is SEAC?
The Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) advises Rainbow District School Board on matters related to special education. The majority of SEAC members are volunteer representatives from parent and community associations. Two Board Trustees also sit on the committee. SEAC includes representatives from the following association members:

  • Down Syndrome Association of Sudbury
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder
  • Learning Disabilities Association of Sudbury
  • March of Dimes Canada
  • Northern Ontario Assessment and Resource Centre
  • Ontario Autism Coalition

SEAC also includes First Nations members, trustees and members at large in Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin.

When and where are SEAC meetings held?
Meetings of the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) are open to the public. SEAC meetings are usually held the first Wednesday of the month during the school year. Meetings take place from noon to 2 pm at the Rainbow District School Board Centre for Education, 408 Wembley Drive in Sudbury.

The meetings for 2023-2024 will be held on:

September 13, 2023
October 4, 2023
November 1, 2023
December 6, 2023
January 10, 2024
February 7, 2024
March 6, 2024
April 3, 2024
May 1, 2024
June 5, 2024

Please confirm meeting dates and locations by calling 705-674-3171, ext. 7235.

What is an IPRC?
The Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) meets and decides if a student should be identified as an exceptional pupil, and, if so, the placement that will best meet the student’s needs. Once identified as an exceptional pupil, an IPRC review meeting takes place annually. Additional IPRCs can be scheduled upon the request of the school or the parent/guardian after the placement has been in effect for a period of three months.

Who is the Committee comprised of?
An IPRC is composed of at least three persons, one of whom must be a principal or supervisory officer of the board.  Namely, the committee consists of:

  • Principal
  • Teacher(s)
  • Special Education support staff and others

What is the role of the IPRC?
The IPRC will:

  • Decide whether or not your child should be identified as exceptional;
  • Identify the areas of your child’s exceptionalities, according to the categories and definitions of exceptionalities provided by the Ministry of Education and Training;
  • Decide an appropriate placement for your child. Rainbow District School Board offers a full range of placement options: Resource support, self-contained special education class, self-contained special education school and provincial school placement for students with a learning disability or students who are deaf or blind.

When do annual IPRC review meetings take place?
Invitations to annual IPRC meetings are usually extended in early fall or spring.

May parents attend the IPRC meeting?
Regulation 181/98 entitles parents and pupils 16 years of age or older:

  • To be present at and participate in all committee discussions about their child; and
  • To be present when the committee’s identification and placement decision is made.

How do parents/guardians know if they are invited to IPRC meetings?
Parents/guardians are informed of the convening of the IPRC, at least ten days in advance of the meeting, by way of a written invitation to the IPRC. A special form sent to the parents/guardians notifies them of the date, time and location of the IPRC and asks the parent/guardian to acknowledge its receipt and indicate their intention to attend. Every effort is made to accommodate parents who are unable to attend at the specified time.

How are parents/guardians involved in the IPRC process?
Once a student is assessed, all assessment results and information regarding the student are shared with the parents/guardians prior to the IPRC. Parents/guardians are encouraged to attend the IPRC and, if they so desire, have an advocate accompany them, to facilitate the process. Parents/guardians are encouraged to prepare for the IPRC by developing a list of questions and meeting with the classroom teacher and Special Education Resource Teacher. At the IPRC, parents are invited to share information that would assist the school in developing an appropriate program for the child.

Who else may attend an IPRC meeting?
Other persons that may be in attendance include:

  • the principal of your child’s school;
  • 0ther resource people such as your child’s teacher, special education staff, board support staff, or the representative of an agency, who may provide further information or clarification;
  • your representative – that is, a person who may support you or speak on behalf of you or your child; and
  • an interpreter, if one is required.

How is an IPRC meeting requested?
The principal of your child’s school:

  • Must convene an IPRC meeting for your child, upon receiving your written request;
  • May, with written notice to you, refer your child to an IPRC when the principal and the child’s teacher or teachers believe that your child may benefit from a special education program.

Within 15 days of receiving your request, or 10 days of giving you notice, the principal must provide you with a copy of the Parent’s Guide and a written statement of approximately when the IPRC will meet.

What will the IPRC consider in making its placement decision?
Before the IPRC can consider placing your child in a special education class, it must consider whether placement in a regular class with appropriate special education services will:

  • meet your child’s needs; and
  • be consistent with your preferences.

If, after considering all of the information presented to it, the IPRC is satisfied that placement in a regular class will meet your child’s needs and that such a decision is consistent with your preferences, the committee will decide in favour of placement in a regular class with appropriate special education services. If the committee decides that your child should be placed in a special education class, it must state the reasons for that decision in its written statement of decision.

What will the IPRC’s written statement of decision include?
The IPRC’s written statement of decision will state:

  • whether the IPRC has identified your child as exceptional;
  • where the IPRC has identified your child as exceptional,
  • the categories and definitions of any exceptionalities identified, as they are defined by the Ministry of Education and Training;
  • the IPRC’s description of your child’s strengths and needs;
  • the IPRC’s placement decision; and
  • the IPRC’s recommendations regarding a special education program and special education services;
  • where the IPRC has decided that your child should be placed in a special education class, the reasons for that decision.

What happens after the IPRC has made its decision?
If you agree with the IPRC decision, you will be asked to indicate, by signing your name, that you agree with the identification and placement decisions made by the IPRC. The statement of decision may be signed at the IPRC meeting or taken home and returned.

If the IPRC has identified your child as an exceptional pupil and you have agreed with the IPRC identification and placement decision, the principal of the school at which the special education program is to be provided will initiate the development of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for your child.

Once a child has been placed in a special education program, can the placement be reviewed?
A review IPRC meeting will be held within the school year, unless the principal of the school at which the special education program is being provided receives written notice from you, the parent, dispensing with the annual review.

You may request a review IPRC meeting any time after your child has been in a special education program for three months.

What does a review IPRC consider and decide?
The review IPRC considers the same type of information that was originally considered. With your written permission, the IPRC conducting the review will consider the progress your child has made in relation to the IEP. As well, the IPRC will review the placement and identification decisions and decide whether they should be continued or whether a different decision should now be made.

What can parents do if they disagree with the IPRC decision?
If you do not agree with either the identification or placement decision made by the IPRC, you may:

  • Within 15 days of receipt of the decision, request that the IPRC hold a second meeting to discuss your concerns.
  • You may waive the right to a second IPRC.
  • If you do not agree with the decision after the second meeting, you may file a notice of appeal within 15 days of your receipt of the decision.

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

How do I appeal an IPRC decision?

If you disagree with the IPRC’s identification of your child as exceptional or with the placement decision of the IPRC, you may, within 30 days of receipt of the original decision or within 15 days of receipt of the decision from the second meeting described above, give written notification of your intention to appeal the decision to the Secretary of the Rainbow District School Board, Centre for Education, 408 Wembley Drive, Sudbury ON P3E 1P2. The notice of appeal must:

  • Indicate the decision with which you disagree; and
  • Include a statement that sets out your reasons for disagreeing.

What happens in the appeal process?
The appeal process involves the following steps:

  • The board will establish a special education appeal board to hear your appeal. The appeal board will be composed of three persons (one of whom is to be selected by you, the parent) who have no prior knowledge of the matter under appeal.
  • The chair of the appeal board will arrange a meeting to take place at a convenient time and place, but no later than 30 days after he or she has been selected (unless parents and board both provide written consent to a later date).
  • 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 matter under appeal.
  • You, the parent, and your child, if he or she is 16 years old or over, are entitled to be present at, and to participate in, all discussions.
  • The appeal board must make its recommendation within three days of the meeting ending. It may:
  • agree with the IPRC and recommend that the decision be implemented; or
  • disagree with the IPRC and make a recommendation to the board about your child’s identification, placement, or both.
  • The appeal board will report its recommendations in writing, to you and to the school board, providing the reasons for its recommendations.
  • Within 30 days of receiving the appeal board’s written statement, the school board will decide what action it will take with respect to the recommendations (boards are not required to follow the appeal board recommendation).
  • You may accept the decision of the school board, or you may appeal to a Special Education Tribunal. You may request a hearing by writing to the secretary of the Special Education Tribunal. Information about making an application to the tribunal will be included with the appeal board’s decision.

What is an Individual Education Plan (IEP)?
An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is developed for each student who has been identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) within 30 school days of the student’s identification. The IEP is reviewed and updated bi-annually at the beginning of each term/semester.

An IEP is a written plan. It is a working document that describes the strengths, needs and the specific educational expectations of a student with special education needs. It outlines the special education program and services required to meet that student’s needs, and how the program and services will be delivered. It also indicates how a student’s progress will be monitored.

What is included in an Individual Education Plan (IEP)?
A student’s IEP includes:

  • Specific educational expectations;
  • An outline of the special education program and services that will be received;
  • A statement about the methods by which your child’s progress will be reviewed; and
  • For students 14 years and older (except those identified as exceptional solely on the basis of giftedness), a plan for transition to appropriate post-secondary school activities, such as work, further education, and community living.

The IEP must be completed within 30 days after a student has been placed in the program, and the principal must ensure that the student’s parents/guardians receive a copy of the plan. For more information, please contact your school principal.

When is the IEP developed?
The IEP is developed within 30 school days of placement in a special education program. It is updated in September/October of each school year and reviewed in each subsequent term/semester.

Should parents/guardians provide input for the IEP?
The input of parents/guardians is required in order to develop the best IEP possible. Please contact your school to participate in your child’s IEP. For information about the IEP, please see the Ministry of Education document below.
You can also access information about special education by contacting the Board office.

What other resources are available to assist parents/guardians?
Rainbow District School Board has developed a list of local, provincial and national resources, including programs and organizations dedicated to assisting students, parents/guardians and teachers of exceptional children.

Where can parents obtain additional information?
Additional information can be obtained by contacting:

your school principal; or

Superintendent of Special Education Programs and Services
Rainbow District School Board
Centre for Education
408 Wembley Drive
Sudbury, ON P3E 1P2
Phone: 705-674-3171
Fax: 705-674-3167