Rights & Responsibilities
“These materials have been reprinted from the Leadership Manual 2004 published by the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.”
No part of this manual may be reproduced for commercial purposes. © 2004 BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils

 

Parents and students have rights and responsibilities from a variety of sources, including:

  • BC School Act and other provincial legislation
  • regulations passed pursuant to the School Act and other legislation
  • Orders in Council1
  • Ministerial Orders2
  • federal legislation
  • United Nations Conventions.

Knowing the basic rights and responsibilities of everyone in the school community will make it easier to work together for the benefit of students.

PACs and DPACs are encouraged to consult the Ministry of Education’s Manual of School Law, a compendium of law on education in BC.

In the following sections, you will find a list of the most important rights and responsibilities of parents and students, categorized as shown below. The legislative reference appears after each item.

Parents’ rights and responsibilities

  1. Orders in Council are official documents implementing government decisions concerned with the day-to-day operation of the province.
  2. Ministerial Orders are orders made from time to time by a Minister that do not require the approval of theLieutenant Governor in Council.

Individual parental rights and responsibilities under the School Act:

  • The right to be informed of their child’s attendance, behaviour, and progress in school [School Act, section 7(1)(a)]
  • On request, to receive a copy of the school plan for the school and the accountability contract for the district [School Act, section 7(1)(b)]
  • To belong to the parent advisory council in their school [School Act, section 7(1)(c)]
  • To consult with the teacher, principal, vice-principal, or director of instruction with respect to their child’s educational program. Conversely, parents are required, if requested, to consult with the teacher, principal, viceprincipal, or director of instruction on their child’s educational program [School Act, section 7(2)]
  • To provide volunteer services at or for a school [School Act, section 7.1]
  • To examine all student records kept by a board pertaining to their child [School Act, section 9(1)(a)]
  • On payment of a fee, if any, to receive a copy of any student record they are entitled to examine under the above section [School Act, section 9(1)(b)]
  • Can be held liable, with or separately from their children, for property of a school board that is destroyed, damaged, lost, or converted by an intentional or negligent act [School Act, section 10]
  • To appeal to the school board a decision, or failure to make a decision, by a school board employee that significantly affects the education, health, or safety of their child [School Act, section 11]
  • To educate their child at home or elsewhere [School Act, section 12]

Individual parental rights and responsibilities under Orders in Council:

  • “Parents have the right and responsibility to participate in the process of determining the educational goals, policies, and services provided for their children.
  • They have the primary responsibility to ensure that children are provided with the healthy and supportive environment necessary for learning.
  • They have a responsibility to help shape and support the goals of the school system and to share the task of educating their young.” [Statement of Education Policy Order, OIC 1280/89]

Collective parental rights under the School Act:

  • The right to form a parent advisory council in their school [School Act, sections 8(1) and 8(2)]
  • Through the PAC’s elected officers,
    • to advise the school board, principal, and staff on any matter relating to the school, other than matters assigned to the school planning council, and
    • at the request of the school planning council, to assist the school planning council in carrying out its functions under the School Act [School Act, section 8(4)]. The purpose of the school planning council is to prepare an annual school plan to improve student achievement in the school [School Act, section 8.3]
  • Through the PAC, to elect three parent representatives to the school planning council [School Act, section 8.1(3)]
  • Through the PAC, to form a district parent advisory council in their district [School Act, sections 8.4(1) and 8.4(2)]
  • Through the PAC, to elect one parent representative to the district parent advisory council [School Act, section 8.4(3)]
  • Through the district parent advisory council, to advise the school board on any matter relating to education in the district [School Act, section 8.5(1)]

Students’ rights and responsibilities

Individual student rights and responsibilities under the School Act:

  • The right to participate in an educational program between the ages of 5 and 19 [School Act, section 2(1)]
  • The right to attend any school in British Columbia, if the school board determines that space and facilities are available in the school [School Act, section 2(2)]
  • The responsibility to participate in an educational program until the age of 16 [School Act, section 3(1)(b)]
  • The right to consult with a teacher, principal, vice-principal, or director of instruction about their educational program [School Act, section 4]
  • The responsibility to comply with school rules, codes of conduct, and other rules and policies of the school board [School Act, section 6(1)]
  • If attending a school, the responsibility to participate in an educational program as directed by the school board [School Act, section 6(2)]
  • Can be held liable, with or separately from their parents, for property of a school board that is destroyed, damaged, lost, or converted by an intentional or negligent act [School Act, section 10]
  • The right to appeal to the school board a decision, or failure to make a decision, by a school board employee that significantly affects their education, health, or safety [School Act, section 11]

Individual student rights and responsibilities under Orders in Council:

  • “Students have the opportunity to avail themselves of a quality education consistent with their abilities, the opportunity to share in the shaping of their educational programs, and the opportunity to determine their career and occupational goals.
  • They have the responsibility to make the most of their opportunities, to respect the rights of others, and to cooperate with fellow students in the achievement of their goals.” [Statement of Education Policy Order, OIC 1280/89]

Collective student rights under the School Act:

  • For grade 10, 11, and 12 students, the right to be consulted by the principal on the appointment of a student representative to the school planning council [School Act, section 8.1(3)]

Rights of students with special needs under the Special Needs Students Order of the Minister of Education:

  • A “student with special needs” is a student who has a disability of an intellectual, physical, sensory, emotional or behavioural nature, has a learning disability or has exceptional gifts or talents.
  • An administrative officer (principal, vice-principal, or director of instruction) must offer to consult with a parent of a special needs student regarding the placement of that student in an educational program.
  • A school board must provide a special needs student with an educational program in a classroom where that student is integrated with other students who do not have special needs, unless the educational needs of the special needs student or other students indicate that the educational program for the special needs student should be provided otherwise. [Ministerial Order 150/89]

Student rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

  • The right to free and compulsory primary education [Article 28]
  • To equal access to secondary and higher education [Article 28]
  • To school discipline consistent with the child’s human dignity [Article 28]
  • To express their views freely in matters that affect them, and to have their views considered in accordance with their age and maturity [Article 12]

Principles of Fair Schools, Report of the BC Ombudsman, May 1995

Note: Parent and student advocacy as practiced by the BCCPAC Advocacy Project is based on the principles of Fair Schools.

  1. All children and youth have the right to be valued and to be treated with respect and dignity.
  2. All children and youth have the right to a fair and equitable education.
  3. All children and youth have the right to receive appropriate advocacy supports.
  4. All children and youth have the right to participate in decisions that affect them, to express their views, and to have them carefully considered.
  5. All children and youth have the right to the benefit of the fundamental human rights provided in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  6. All children and youth have the right to a safe physical and emotional environment.
  7. All children and youth have the right to receive appropriate programs from appropriately trained and properly motivated staff.
  8. All children and youth should have the opportunity to access publicly funded services in their home communities or as close to their home as possible.

The Fair Schools Report is available free of charge from the BC Ombudsman. Call 1-800-567-3247.