Special Needs Tribunal
If a school board decides that a student has special needs that cannot be met in an education program that the board can provide, or to which the board can direct the student, the board will refer the matter to a Special Needs Tribunal. The tribunal will identify an appropriate program for the student. It will also identify the agencies which will provide the program, and it will apportion the costs of the program. The tribunal's decision is subject to review by the Minister of Education. (See "Working Together- Review by the Minister.”)
What Warrants A Special Needs Tribunal?
Some students are severely medically fragile; and/or suffer a combination of physical and mental disorders. When such disorders are severe enough, a school board may feel that its programs cannot serve the student adequately or safely. However, every individual in Alberta between the ages of six and nineteen is entitled to an education program. An education program is compulsory for children from six to sixteen years of age. When such a case occurs, the school board refers the matter to a Special Needs Tribunal.
How Is A Tribunal Formed?
When the Minister receives a written request for a tribunal from a school board, the Minister will first of all confirm that a tribunal is warranted. The Minister will then assemble a panel of individuals whose expertise complements the case they are to hear. For example, in the case of a medically fragile student, the tribunal membership might include a member from the medical profession and other specialists as needed to examine all the conditions affecting the individual student's education programming needs.
What Does A Tribunal Do?
A tribunal's first task is to determine the special needs of the student. Its second is to confirm that, in fact, the special needs of the student are such that they cannot be met in an education program that the board can offer. If the board can offer the program, it will be directed by the tribunal to do so. If it cannot, the tribunal will develop or approve a special needs plan for the student, and indicate who will provide the services identified in the special needs plan. The tribunal will also apportion the cost of providing these services as it deems appropriate between the board and the government.
How Does A Tribunal Rule?
A Special Needs Tribunal, for the purposes of carrying out its duties, has the powers of a commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act; that is, the tribunal may engage the services of other experts to carry out special functions for the tribunal such as psychological or medical testing. The tribunal may also call witnesses and access documents relevant to the case as if it were a court.