School

Read below for answers to frequently asked questions

I want to talk to my school counsellor, but I’m afraid that what I tell him/her will go on my school record for my parents to see. Will my parents be able to find out what I say to the school counsellor?

Anything you tell your school counsellor is to be kept confidential. It is not to go on your school record or be shared with others. It is to be kept completely confidential unless your counsellor thinks (or you tell him or her) that you are being hurt or you are going to hurt yourself or someone else. If the counsellor thinks this is or might happen he or she must report it.

Legal Authorities

  • Student Record Regulation, Alta. Reg. 225/2006, s.3
  • Student Record Regulation, Alta. Reg. 225/2006, s.2(2) – disclosure for safety reasons
  • Student Record Regulation, Alta. Reg. 225/2006, s.3(1)(a)(ii) – [student record cannot contain] a report or an investigation record relating to the student under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act
  • >Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. C-12, s.4(1) & (2) – Counsellor must report if they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe a child is in need of intervention. This applies even if the information is deemed confidential in any other act (or regulation)
  • Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. C-12, S.1(1)(j) – reporting goes to a ‘director’ designated by Minister

I live on my own, separate form my parents/guardians. Does this make a difference in how I am treated at school?

If you live on your own and can support yourself financially, you might be able to acquire “independent student” status. You can be considered for independent student status if you are:

  • 18 years of age or older, or
  • 16 years of age and living independently

A student’s principal decides whether or not a student can be classified as an independent student. Sometimes (though rarely) your principal might classify you as an independent student even if you do not fit into one of the two categories listed above – it really depends on your situation so it is a good idea to talk to your principal. If you need some support with this you can contact Youth Law at 403-207-9029 or use our contact form.

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. S-3, s.1(1)(m)
  • School Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. S-3, s.1(1)
  • Calgary School Board Regulation, 6000: http://www.cbe.ab.ca/GovernancePolicies/AR6000.pdf
  • Edmonton Public School Board Regulation, HEC.AR: https://www.epsb.ca/ourdistrict/policy/h/hec-ar/

What difference does it make if I am classified as an independent student?

Unlike other students, an independent student is entitled to the same rights and powers as a parent/guardian. In effect, you act as your own parent/guardian in school matters. This also means you have all the responsibilities of a parent/guardian; or if you are an independent student and you damage school property, you, not your parents/guardians will be held responsible. Parents/guardians of independent students cannot exercise the usual rights of parents when their child has independent student status. For example, as an independent student you register yourself for school, not your parents/guardians and you sign permission for field trips. You also control access to your school records. It is a good idea to talk to your school principal if you would like to become an independent student. If you need help with this you can contact us at 403-207-9029 or use our contact form. 

] Legal Authorities

  • School Act, R. S. A. 2000, c. S-3, s. 1(1)(m)
  • School Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. S-3, s. 1(3)
  • Calgary School Board Regulation, 6000: – Independent Students: http://www.cbe.ab.ca/GovernancePolicies/AR6000.pdf
  • Student Record Regulation, AR 225/2006

Does independent student status continue year to year or does it have to be reviewed or renewed each year?

Once you have been granted independent student status by a school, it is entered into the student information system. If your status changes it is up to you or your parent/guardian to inform the school so they can amend your information.

Legal Authorities


When can I quit school?

You can quit school when you turn 16.

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, RSA 2000, c. S-3, s. 13

Can I smoke at school?

You cannot smoke if you are under 18, even at school. If you are over 18 then you can only smoke if an outside area has been set aside for smokers by the principal. No one is permitted to smoke in the school building.

Legal Authorities

  • Prevention of Youth Tobacco Use Act, RSA 2000, P-22, s. 2 – under 18’s cannot smoke
  • Edmonton Public School Board Policies, em.bp, hg.bp: https://www.epsb.ca/ourdistrict/policy/e/em-bp/, https://www.epsb.ca/ourdistrict/policy/h/hg-bp/
  • Calgary School Board Regulation, AR 6001.9

When can a teacher, principal or the police search me at school?

Teacher or Principal A principal or teacher (school authorities) can search your locker, desk, backpack, gym bag or any of your other belongings or places where you keep your belongings. This is because while you are in school they are responsible for your safety and well-being (the law sasys that they “stand in the place of the parent” – in loco parentis). However, there must be reasonable grounds for a search. Reasonable grounds means there must be a reason for the search based on some kind of reliable proof that you did something wrong. It can’t just be that the teacher doesn’t like you. School authorities can get this belief, for example, if another student or teacher has told them that you have brought dangerous objects to school, or if the principal or teacher has seen you bring something dangerous to school. A seach may also be conducted if you have broken other school rules that put you or other students in danger. Before a teacher or principal can search your property or belongings they must tell you. They must also tell your parents as soon as possible, but your parents don’t have to be told before the search takes place. If you are searched, your teacher or principal must search you in a courteous and respectful manner. They may ask you to:

  • Empty your pockets, desk, backpack, gym bag, or locker;
  • Shake out your clothing;
  • Roll up your sleeves, waist bands or pant cuffs; or
  • Remove your belt, hats, head coverings, jacket, scarves, gloves, socks, shoes or anything else you are wearing.

If you have drugs, alcohol or weapons in your locker the police will immediately be contacted. If you have been searched and you do not feel it was justified you can contact Youth Law at 403-207-9029 or use our contact form.

Police Police officers on school premises have the same responsibilities that they have in other places. Police can only search you and your belongings in certain situations:

  • With your consent;
  • During an arrest or if the police have a search warrant;
  • If the police have ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe you did, are doing, or will do something illegal (weapon/drugs)

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, R.S.A. c. S-5, section 45(8)
  • Calgary School Board Regulation, 6014: http://www.cbe.ab.ca/policies/policies/AR6014.pdf
  • Calgary Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 1, Locker Searches: http://www.cssd.ab.ca/files/regulations/jkha.pdf
  • R.v. M. (M.R.), [1998] 3 S.C.R. 393 – SCC said students have a lower expectation of privacy in a school environment. Reasonable and probable grounds are not required for searches by teachers or principals, reasonable grounds is enough. The SCC set 3 factors for determining reasonableness:
    1. Can be inferred from the provisions of the relevant Education Act that teachers and principals are authorized to conduct searches of their students in appropriate circumstances
    2. The search itself must be carried out in a reasonable manner. It should be conducted in a sensitive manner and be minimally intrusive.
    3. In order to determine whether a search was reasonable, all the surrounding circumstances must be considered.
  • R. v. Z (S.M.) (1998), 131 C.C.C. (3d) 136 (Man.C.A.) – locker searches.

Can I be randomly searched in school?

Random searches are not permitted. A teacher or principal needs reasonable grounds to search, and the police require reasonable and probable grounds. This is also the case if the police are using sniffer dogs. There must be reasonable and probable grounds to use the sniffer dog and random searches by a sniffer dog are not permitted.

Legal Authorities

  • R. v. A.M.,[2008] 1 S.C.R. 569 – police sniffer dogs used randomly violates s. 8 Charter
  • R. v. M. (M.R.), [1998] 3 S.C.R. 393

Is my school allowed to have a dress code?

Yes, under the Alberta School Act the local Board of Education in your area has authority that allows your individual school to decide what the dress code will be. For example, Red Deer Public School Board allows Red Deer Public Schools to set their own dress code.

Legal Authorities


What am I allowed to wear to school? Can I wear whatever I want?

In general, the dress code at a particular school depends on what the principal, teachers and parents think. Local regulations require your clothing to be suitable for any activity in which you might be involved. For example, you cannot wear high-heels during gym class. Also, you will usually have to remove any jewelry including jewelry that is in your piercings, if you are playing a team sport or when you are in gym class. If a teacher or principal decides that what you are wearing isn’t appropriate, they can require you to change before you go to class – even if it means you have to go home to do so.

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. S-3, s. 12, s. 20
  • Edmonton Public School Board Regulation, HG.AR:
  • Red Deer Public School Board Policy, 40204
  • Calgary School Board Regulation, 6010:
  • Multani v. Commission Scolaire Maruerite-Bourgeoys, 2006 SCC 6

Am I allowed to wear my Hijab to school? Can I be forced to remove my Hijab at school?

You are allowed to wear your Hijab or headscarf to school and you cannot be forced to remove it. This would violate your human rights. If your school has a uniform you may be asked to match the colour of the Hijab to the uniform, but under current human rights law you are not to be required to take it off. If you feel your rights have been violated you can contact us at 403-207-9029 or use our contact form.

Legal Authorities

  • Alberta Human Rights Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. A-25.5, s. 4
  • Ahmed v. Edmonton Public School Board, 2008 ABQB 351, para 29

Am I allowed to carry a kirpan to school?

Yes. You can carry your kirpan to school, but there are rules. You can carry a metal kirpan if it is in a wooden sheath and sewn inside a cloth envelope worn inside your clothes. This is so that it cannot accidentally come out or be taken out. If you feel your rights have been violated you can contact us at 403-207-9029 or use our contact form.

Legal Authorities

  • Multani v. Commission Scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys, [2006] 1. S.C.R. 256, 2006 SCC 6
  • Alberta Human Rights Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. A-25.5, s. 4

How do I register for school?

Unless you are an independent student, your parent or guardian must register you for school. Some schools will make exceptions to the requirement that your parent/guardian must register you. If you have attended the school before, some schools will allow you to re-register without your parent’s or guardian’s consent. You must register for school where you live. Students seeking admission to district schools need to establish their legal name, age, citizenship, and residency status in order to be accepted. Your parent or guardian must give the school a copy of your birth certificate if it is your first registration with the school board (it is kept on record after that). If you are an independent student you must provide the copy of your birth certificate. If a parent, guardian or independent student cannot provide a birth certificate, other identification may be accepted, including passports, immigration papers, court orders and Canadian citizenship documents. You should be allowed to register without providing proper identification but it must be provided within 30 days. If you are transferring from a different school, you or your parent/guardian are required to tell the new school if you were ever expelled or suspended from any other school. Registration procedures may be different from school to school If you are considering registering at a particular school, it is a good idea to ask that school about its registration procedure before the registration deadline. If you need help, or are having trouble getting registered for school, you can contact us at 403-207-9029 or use our contact form.

Legal Authorities

  • Calgary School Board Regulation, 6090
  • Edmonton Public School Board Regulation, HEC.AR:

Can I have a cell phone at school?

Usually not but each school decides its own cell phone policy, this can be found in your school’s student handbook. If you have a question about cell phone use at your school, ask a teacher or your principal.

Legal Authorities


What can I be suspended or expelled for at school?

You can be suspended or expelled for ‘unacceptable behaviour’. Your school will have a written ‘code of conduct’ that you can look at to see what is considered unacceptable. Generally this will include swearing, vandalism, harassment, bullying, violence, weapons, drugs, and alcohol. It can include other things as well so it is important to check your own school’s ‘code of conduct’. When a principal wants to expel you, he or she will write a report recommending your expulsion to the superintendent of schools. They will also inform your parents of when and where the decision will be made, and you and your parents have a right to attend and be heard. If you are expelled, an appeal can be made to the Minister of Education. If you have received notice of expulsion you can call us at 403-207-9029 or  use our contact form for some help but it is important that you call as soon as you receive notice of expulsion.

Legal Authorities


Are teachers allowed to hit me or to touch me?

The law says a teacher can use reasonable force in disciplining a student so long as it was reasonable in the circumstances of the situation. Only minor corrective force is allowed and it must be sparingly used. It cannot include the use of objects or blows to the head, and cannot be used if you are over 12 years old. Teachers may reasonably apply force to remove someone from the classroom. Most often force will occur to stop you from hurting yourself or others. Even though the law may allow it, most school boards in Alberta have policies against the use of force to discipline students. It is generally considered unacceptable. If a teacher has used physical force or hit you, you can contact us at 403-207-9029 or use our contact form.

Legal Authorities

  • Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (Attorney General), [2004] 1 S.C.R. 76, 2004 SCC 4
  • R. v. Jonkman, 2010 ABPC 245 – reasonable steps must be taken before force, and force must sober and not in anger
  • Calgary Board of Education Regulation, AR 6006
  • Edmonton School Board Policy, HG.BP

I am being bullied at school. What can I do?

Bullying is when someone does or says anything to hurt you on purpose. No one deserves to be bullied and no one should feel unsafe. Bullying can be stopped. It is not your fault you are being bullied and it is very important to talk about it with an adult you trust like a parent, teacher or counselor. You can also contact the Alberta Bullying Hotline at 1-888-456-2323, the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or kidshelpphone.ca, or call us at 403 207 9029 or use our contact form. There are many ways you can be bullied, they include:

Physical

  • Hitting, punching, pushing, kicking, spitting, or using weapons

Social

  • Spreading rumors, mean gossip, trash talk, sharing your private information

Verbal

  • Name calling, making fun, threatening pain, mean phone calls/texts/emails

Sexual

  • Unwanted touching, kissing, sexual comments

You can be bullied in other ways too. If it makes you feel unsafe or unhappy, talk to a trusted adult and remember that it can stop. Punishments for bullying can include school suspension or criminal charges.

Legal Authorities

  • Calgary School Board Regulation, AR 6001
  • Edmonton Public Schools Board Policies, HG.BP

Can I choose which school to attend? 

Unless you are an independent student, your parent or guardian must register you for school, and where you live will usually determine what school you attend. Your school board’s website will indicate which school is designated to your residential district and grade. The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) directs you to the following page for such information: http://www.cbe.ab.ca/schools/find-a-school/Pages/default.aspx. If you have further questions, contact the Public Information line for your school board (CBE Public Information line: 403-817-7955).

If you want to leave the school that has been assigned to you, your parent or guardian must contact the principal of a different school and determine space availability and enrollment guidelines. If the principal agrees to let you transfer to that school you and your family will be responsible for arranging transportation to and from school.

Many schools struggle to make space for growing numbers of students, so some school boards, such as the Calgary Board of Education, use a lottery system to determine which students are admitted to certain schools. You may be lucky enough to get into the school closest to home, but some students will have to attend a school that is further away.

The Calgary Board of Education and other school boards offer alternative schools and programs that you may apply to attend. Alternative options include second-language immersion, an emphasis on science or specific subjects, cultural emphasis for people of Aboriginal origin, and different teaching methods such as Montessori.

If you want to change schools because of conflict with your peers, first talk to a counselor or your principal. They can often provide other ways for you to resolve your peer-related issues.

See also:

Q. “What difference does it make if I am classified as an independent student?”

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, RSA 2000, c. S-3, ss. 44, 51

Can my parent(s) stop me from attending extracurricular school activities, like team sports, band practice, or my high school graduation?

Your parent(s) or guardian(s) have the power to make decisions regarding your involvement in extra-curricular activities, but as you get older your participation in making these decisions is encouraged. Remember that many extra-curricular activities have a registration fee, and in some cases your family may not have enough money to enrol you. Programs are available to help underprivileged youth with the costs of sports and other activities, and your school counsellor may be able to recommend such a program that suits you.

If you do not agree with the decision of your parent(s) or guardian(s) regarding your participation in an extracurricular activity, try to voice your opinion in a respectful way. By negotiating, making compromises, and controlling any frustration you may be feeling, you can show your maturity and encourage your parent(s) or guardian(s) to make a decision that suits you both.

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, RSA 2000, c. S-3, preamble
  • Family Law Act, SA 2003, c F-4.5, s. 21(6)(a,c)

I’ve been subpoenaed to appear before the Board of Trustees. What does “subpoena” mean, what is the Board of Trustees, and what should I do?

If you have been subpoenaed, it means that you have been summoned to attend a hearing or act as a witness before the Board of Trustees. Made up of representatives elected by the citizens from your city or area, the Board of Trustees acts like a student court for your school district or division. If the Board will be making a decision that affects you, you have the right to be represented by a lawyer.

If you have received notice to appear before the Board, you can contact us at (403) 207-9029 for help. It is important that you call as soon as you have received your subpoena. If your matter relates to a criminal offence or serious breach of a school code, Youth Law may refer you to the Youth Criminal Defence Office at (403) 297-4400.

See also:

Q. “Can I be expelled before I attend a hearing with the Board of Trustees?”

Q. “What is the Attendance Board and what can it decide?”

Other Resources:

Role of the CBE Board of Trustees

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, RSA 2000, c. S-3, s. 127(1)(i),(m), (2), (3)

Do I need my parent(s) or guardian(s) to sign school documents, such as field trip consent forms?

If you have independent student status, then no. As an independent student, you can make your own school-related decisions.

If you live with your parent(s) or guardian(s), then the answer will depend on your age and the kind of the school document. For example, field trip consent forms require your parents to sign if you are under 16, but you can make the decision yourself if you are over 16.

See also:

Q. “What difference does it make if I am classified as an independent student?”

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, RSA 2000, c. S-3, c. S-3 ss. 54(3)

Can I be expelled before I attend a hearing with the Board of Trustees?

No. Your principal can only recommend that you be expelled. The Board of Trustees must summon you to a hearing before you can actually be expelled. You should seek a lawyer to represent you at the hearing.

If you have received notice to appear before the Board, you can contact us at (403) 207-9029 for help. It is important that you call as soon as you have received your subpoena. If your matter relates to a criminal offence or serious breach of a school code, Youth Law may refer you to the Youth Criminal Defence Office at (403) 297-4400.

See also:

Q. “Is there a difference between being suspended and expelled?”

  1. “I’ve been subpoenaed to appear before the Board of Trustees. What does ‘subpoena’ mean, what is the Board of Trustees, and what should I do?”

Q. “What is the Attendance Board and what can it decide?”

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, RSA 2000, c. S-3, s. 25

What is the Attendance Board and what can it decide?

Unlike the Board of Trustees, which is made up of representatives elected by your city or area, the Attendance Board is made up of members chosen from throughout Alberta by Alberta’s Minister of Education. Whereas the Board of Trustees can make disciplinary decisions if you break a law or school code, the Attendance Board helps students who have a record of missing classes, which is also known as “truancy” or “absenteeism.”

If you have been missing class, the Attendance Board can:

  •  direct you to attend school;
  • direct your parent(s) or guardian(s) to send you to school;
  • direct you to attend an education program, course, or student program;
  • report the matter to a child services director;
  • fine your parent(s) or guardian(s) $100 for each day you do not attend school up to a maximum of $1000;
  • or give any other direction that is considered appropriate.

See also:

Q. “I’ve been subpoenaed to appear before the Board of Trustees. What does “subpoena” mean, what is the Board of Trustees, and what should I do?”

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, RSA 2000, c. S-3, c. S-3 s.128(1)

I have come to Canada on a study permit. Can my study permit be taken away from me?

A study permit does not allow you to stay in Canada permanently. Each study permit has an expiration date. You can apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to extend your study period, but you must do so at least 30 days before your current study permit expires.

Your study permit will also become invalid if a removal order is made against you. A removal order forces you to leave Canada, and some removal orders place restrictions on when you can re-enter the country.

If your study permit has expired or you have been issued a removal order, you can contact Youth Law at (403) 207-9029 to discuss whether you have options to extend your stay in Canada.

Legal Authorities

  • Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2001, c 27
  • Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations , SOR/2002-227, ss. 52(1), 222-226

Can I break up a fight at school?

If possible, you should get your principal, teacher, or School Resource Officer involved. They are trained in how to handle violent situations. If there is no other option immediately available, you can use a reasonable amount of force to prevent serious injury to another person. Whether the force you use is reasonable will depend on circumstances, such as whether the assailant suffers from mental disability or is using a weapon.

It may be difficult for your principal or Resource Officer to figure out if you contributed to starting the fight. If you jump in to defend someone, it may appear as though you were starting the fight. You could be suspended or expelled, even if your intentions were good. Be very careful about the serious implications of fighting, as you could end up with physical injuries, discipline from your school, and a youth record or criminal record for assault. Again, always seek the help of an adult if you are worried about violence between your peers.

See also:

Q: “What is a School Resource Officer?”

Other Resources:

School Resource Officer

Legal Authorities

  • Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, s. 27

Do my school records belong to me or the school board? If I change schools, can my previous school transfer my records without my consent?

Your record belongs to the school board, and your new school is required to get your record from your previous school. You have no choice in the matter. This is because school records contain very important information for the well-being of you and others at your school. Your student record will also help your principal and teachers develop a program that suits your skills and needs. Your school record will be destroyed 7 years after you leave school.

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, RSA 2000, c. S-3
  • Student Record Regulation, Alta Reg 225/2006, ss. 4,8

Do I have to participate in the singing of the Canadian national anthem at school?

Each school has its own code of conduct, and whether you are expected to sing the national anthem, salute the Canadian flag, or partake in other patriotic activities will depend on what your code of conduct says.

If your school’s code requires you to participate in patriotic activities at school, you can ask your parent or guardian to sign and deliver a written letter to your school requesting that you be excused. Your teacher or principal will then make sure that you are either pulled out of the classroom or allowed to remain in the classroom without participating during the activity.

There are cases dating back to the Second World War-era in which students were suspended for failing to salute the flag during ceremonies at school; however, Canadian society and laws have changed much since then. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which did not become part of Canadian law until 1982, protects an individual’s freedom of expression and freedom of religion from government interference. Therefore, it may be beyond the powers of your school to suspend you if you choose not to take part in patriotic activities because of your deeply held beliefs. The courts, however, have given conflicting decisions on whether the Charter applies to school boards, and so it is not clear if you can rely on the Charter to protect your freedoms of religion and expression while you are at school.

Being rude or disruptive during anthem singing will get you in trouble no matter how strong your beliefs are, so make sure you do things properly and have your parent or guardian submit a written request for you to be excluded from patriotic activities in school.

Legal Authorities

  • CED (West 4th), vol 8, title 6(a) at § 194
    • “Refusal by a pupil to salute the flag during patriotic exercises directed by a school board to be performed in the school has been held to be grounds for dismissal from school.”
    • Ruman v Lethbridge School Board, 1943 Alta SC, [1943] 3 WWR 340

Does the Residential Tenancies Act apply to post-secondary dorm rooms? If not, how am I protected?

The Residential Tenancies Act in Alberta does not apply to college or university dorms. This means that you are not protected by the RTA in the case of a dispute with the Residence Services office at your educational institution. However, you will be protected by the lease agreement you sign before moving in. Most colleges and universities have a standard form residence contract, which is a general contract used for each and every student staying in a dorm room. You can try to negotiate some terms with the Residence Services office before signing, but most standard form contracts, while not set in stone, are fairly inflexible. Before you sign a residence contract, make sure that you understand what you are agreeing to. This contract should contain information relating to:

  • the term of your contract, including move-in and move-out dates;
  • your rent fee;
  • your security deposit;
  • inspection and repair procedures;
  • damages and costs;
  • whether you have a mandatory meal plan;
  • whether internet access is included;
  • any code of conduct you are require to follow;
  • cleanliness standards;
  • who can enter your room and when they can do so;
  • pest control costs and procedures;
  • storage;
  • transportation and parking requirements;
  • privacy;
  • drug and alcohol policies;
  • pets;
  • whether you are allowed to host guests or social activities;
  • insurance and liability; and
  • other important residency issues.

Any disputes between you and the Residence Services office will be resolved with respect to your residence contract.

Legal Authorities

  • Residential Tenancies Act, SA 2004, c R-17.1

Is it my choice to be home-schooled? Are there other options I can choose if the regular education program does not suit my needs?

Your parent(s) or guardian(s) will usually make the final choice about home-schooling, especially since they are required to develop and administer your education program. You cannot force a parent to provide home-schooling, and you must have your parent or guardian submit a form expressing his or her intention to home-school you to the Minister of Education. However, if you think home-schooling may suit your learning style, you should talk to your parent(s) or guardian(s). Your participation in making decisions about your education is encouraged, especially as you approach adulthood.

As you consider whether home-schooling is right for you, think about your academic strengths and weaknesses, the pace at which you learn, your family’s beliefs and values, the time and money your family can provide for your home-schooling education, the availability of learning resources, and the role of school in your social development. Your family should also consider the legal requirements relating to home-schooling.

Home-schooling is not the only option for you if regular school programs do not meet your needs. The Calgary Board of Education provides options such as online studies and the “Discovering Choices” program to enhance your educational experience and encourage you to complete your high school diploma. “Discovering Choices” gives you more schedule flexibility, which is good for working or parenting students, and also provides students with additional services such as personal and career counselling, conflict resolution, anger management techniques, time management and study skills, parenting skills and learning strategies. Unless you are an independent student, you will need the permission of a parent or guardian before enrolling in an alternative educational program. If you are interested, speak with your school counselor and make sure you have all the necessary information before presenting the program to your parent(s) or guardian(s).

See also:

Q. “What difference does it make if I am classified as an independent student?”

Other Resources:

Alberta Home Education Handbook

Calgary Board of Education “Discovering Choices” Program

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. S-3, preamble
  • Family Law Act, SA 2003, c F-4.5, s. 21(6)(c)
  • Home Education Regulation, Alta Reg 145/2006, ss. 2,3(1),3(9)

Are home-schooled students allowed to work during school days?

This is a tricky question. If you are under 16, you generally cannot be employed during normal school hours, which usually range from 8:30am to 3:30 pm. However, there is an exception for students enrolled in “off-campus education programs,” which include work study programs, registered apprenticeship programs, and vocational training. It is not entirely clear if home schooling can be considered an “off-campus education program,” but there is reason to believe that home-schooling may not be included under the category. As such, you may want to talk to your potential employer about working during school hours while you are home-schooled, especially because there could be legal consequences for your employer.

If you are home-schooled and want to work during regular school hours, contact us at (403) 207-9029 to discuss your options.

Legal Authorities

  • Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9, ss. 65,66
  • School Act, RSA 2000, c S-3, s. 54

Is there a difference between being suspended and expelled?

Yes. While both “suspend” and “expel” mean to remove you from class, the school grounds, or the school bus, being expelled has greater consequences than being suspended. A suspension can only last for a period of 10 days or less, while an expulsion is set for a period longer than 10 days. Your parent(s) or guardian(s) will be notified of either a suspension or an expulsion.

You can be suspended or expelled for injuring the physical or mental well-being of others or for failing to:

  • work hard in your studies;
  • attend school regularly and on time;
  • co-operate with your teachers, principal, and other school staff;
  • comply with your school’s code of conduct;
  • be accountable for your conduct to your teachers; or
  • respect the rights of others.

Both your teachers and your principal have the power to suspend you, but your teacher can only suspend you from one class period at a time. If your principal decides that you need to be expelled, he or she must write to the board of trustees for your school division or district. The board will make the final decision on whether or not you are expelled. You and your parent(s) or guardian(s) will have the option to give your side of the story at a hearing, and the board is required to offer you another school or education program.

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, RSA 2000, c. S-3, ss.12, 24, 25

My bag and computer were stolen from my classroom. Can I get the school to replace my stuff?

It depends. If a teacher left your classroom unsupervised while your property was stolen, then you may be able to recover the value of what was stolen. However, every circumstance is different, and much will depend on the value of your property, whether you could have protected your property, and the reasons why your teacher left the room unsupervised.

If you want to pursue a claim against your school for the value of your stolen property, contact us at (403) 207-9029 to discuss your options.

Legal Authorities


What information is kept in my school record?

Your student records will contain:

  • your full name;
  • your student identification number;
  • the name of your parent(s) or guardian(s);
  • a copy of your parents’ separation agreement, if they are divorced;
  • your date of birth;
  • your sex;
  • the addresses and telephone numbers of you and your parent(s) or guardian(s);
  • a list of all the schools you have attended in Alberta;
  • a summary of your academic achievements and progress;
  • results for diploma exams and standardized tests;
  • intellectual, emotional, or behavioral assessments, and information on any action or planning taken as a result;
  • important health information;
  • an annual summary of your school attendance;
  • information about any suspensions or expulsions;
  • whether you are eligible to be taught in French;
  • whether you are of Aboriginal ancestry; and
  • other important information.

Your student records cannot contain:

  • notes and observations of a teacher or principal that are not used in program placement decisions;
  • a report or investigation relating to the Child, Youth, and Family Enhancement Act;
  • counselling records that may be personal or embarrassing to you, as long as the safety of the public, students, and staff would not be threatened by their omission; or
  • anything that is disclosed illegally.

Legal Authorities

  • School Act, RSA 2000, c. S-3
  • Student Record Regulation, Alta Reg 225/2006, ss. 2-3
  • Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

What is a School Resource Officer?

School Resource Officers are Calgary police officers who are placed in schools to act as mentors, educators, and law enforcement personnel. While they have the powers to arrest and charge you for illegal activity, just like any officer of the Calgary Police Service, School

Resource Officers should be thought of as friends and mentors rather than uniformed officers. A School Resource Officer is in your school to provide a safe environment and encourage learning, and you should speak to your School Resource Officer if you are concerned about bullying, drugs, or other wrongful activity at your school. If your school does not have a Resource Officer, your teachers and principal should be the first people speak to about such concerns.

Q. “Can I break up a fight at school?”

Other Resources:

School Resource Officer


Can I be excluded from school lessons that offend my religious convictions or deal with human sexuality?

Your parents can submit a letter to your teacher indicating that you will not participate in a lesson that primarily and explicitly deals with religion, human sexuality, or sexual orientation. You will be given the option of leaving the classroom or remaining in the classroom without participating, and you will not suffer an academic penalty. However, you cannot be excused from class because of incidental references to religion or sexuality.

The school board is required to notify your parents when a lesson will contain explicitly religious or sexual subject-matter. Therefore, you will not, in most cases, encounter explicit religious or sexual material that has not already been brought to your parents’ attention.

Legal Authorities

  • Alberta Human Rights Act, RSA 2000, c A-25.5, s. 11.1