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File a complaint if you are dissatisfied with a school service

File a complaint

If you wish to make a report, you can use the online form. The National Student Ombudsman’s assistance and admissibility team will process your request within 48 working hours.

A complaint may be filed by a student or one of the student’s parents regarding the educational services they received, are receiving, should have received, or need, if the student attends an educational institution within the jurisdiction of:

  • a school service centre.
  • an English school board.
  • the private sector.
  • vocational training.
  • adult education.
  • or if a student is homeschooled.

Procedure for filing a complaint

General notice

Complaint concerning sexual violence

A complaint concerning an act of sexual violence 1 Read the content of the note 1 may be made directly to the regional student ombudsman, omitting the first two steps of the process. These complaints are fast-tracked.

The regional student ombudsman forwards the complaint to the educational institution, unless he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that this would hamper the investigation, or the complainant objects to the transmission of the complaint.

Step 1

To file a complaint, the student or their parent must first approach the person directly concerned or that person’s superior.

The complaint may be verbal, but it is better if it is made in writing. This creates a paper trail and makes it easier to determine how long processing will take. 

The person who receives the complaint has 10 working days to reply.

Step 2

If you are still dissatisfied with how the complaint is being handled, or if the 10-day deadline has expired, you must contact the person responsible for processing complaints within the school service centre, the school board or the private educational institution.

This step may be done verbally, but it is better if it is in writing.

The complaint is processed within 15 working days.

Step 3

If you are still dissatisfied with how the complaint is being handled, or if the 15-day deadline has expired, you must contact the regional student ombudsman in your region. The ombudsman will help you draft your written complaint.

Regional student ombudsmen have 20 working days to examine the complaint. They make recommendations to the school service centre, the school board or the private educational institution.

The National Student Ombudsman has 5 working days to inform the regional student ombudsman of whether he or she intends to examine the complaint. If so, the National Student Ombudsman has 10 working days to complete the examination and to substitute his or her conclusions or recommendations for those of the regional student ombudsman.

The regional student ombudsman informs the complainant and the school service centre, school board or private educational institution about the conclusions and recommendations.

The school service centre, school board or private educational institution has 10 working days to inform the complainant and the regional student ombudsman of whether it intends to follow up on the conclusions and recommendations made to it, or of its reasons if it has decided not to act on them.

How complaints are processed

When the regional student ombudsman examines your complaint, he or she informs the school service centre, the school board or the private educational institution. They must send the ombudsman the information about the complaint.

The regional student ombudsman gives the person directly concerned or that person’s immediate superior the opportunity to be heard.

If the complainant and the people concerned consent to it in writing, the regional student ombudsman may bring them together to try to have them reach an agreement. During mediation, processing of the complaint is put on hold.

Any information obtained by the National Student Ombudsman or regional student ombudsmen is handled confidentially and is not shared unless the people concerned consent to it.

Action against bullying and violence

The complaint examination procedure applies to action against bullying and violence. If a student or their parent is dissatisfied with an educational institution’s follow up on a report or complaint, they may file a complaint with the person in charge of processing complaints at the school service centre, school board or private educational institution concerned, then with the regional student ombudsman.

When the complaint concerns bullying or violence, the regional student ombudsman gives the complainant and the educational institution an opportunity to be heard.

Contact the National Student Ombudsman

  • Footer note number 1
     [1] "The concept of sexual violence refers to any form of violence committed through sexual practices or by targeting sexuality, including sexual assault. It also refers to any other misconduct, including that relating to sexual and gender diversity, in such forms as unwanted direct or indirect gestures, comments, behaviours or attitudes with sexual connotations, including by a technological means." For further information about acts of sexual violence, see the page on the forms of violence.
    Back to the reference of the note 1

Last update: September 7, 2023

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