Sherry and Roland both complained to our office when they learned about the closure of the Late French Immersion Program at their respective children’s middle school. Both parents were concerned about how the closure would impact their children’s education and access to French language training. They had complained about the program closure to the principal and superintendent and submitted a formal appeal about the decision to School District 61 (SD61). Sherry received a letter back from the Board of Education explaining that it had met and denied her appeal on the grounds that it did not meet the required threshold for an appeal under the School Act.
We investigated whether SD61 followed a fair process in making its decision to close the Late French Immersion Program and in denying both Sherry’s and Roland’s appeals.
During our investigation, we reviewed SD61’s consultation policy as it relates to decisions about program closures. Records showed efforts made to consult about the reduction of the Late French Immersion Program. Through a public feedback process and public meetings, SD61 explained its decision, which fulfilled its obligation to provide reasons for its decision to close the Late French Immersion Program.
However, it appeared that SD61 struggled to explain why both Sherry’s and Roland’s appeals could not be considered by the Board. We shared our concerns with SD61 and proposed it provide clear reasons explaining why both appeals were denied. We also recommended that SD61 provide information about the types of decisions that can be appealed under section 11 of the School Act, including the process for making an appeal and how to challenge a decision that isn’t appealable under section 11. SD61 agreed to take the steps proposed by our office to enhance the transparency of its appeals process.