YOUTH & THE LAW / But Do I Have To Go To School?: Education laws in Alberta.

AuthorSteingard, Jessica

COVID-19 has changed everything! One of the biggest changes for youth? School buildings are closed. But school has not been cancelled! It has simply moved online. So just in case you've forgotten how to 'do school', this column focuses on the laws about school in Alberta.

The Education Act sets out the law for all things school-related in Alberta. The following list covers some of the important provisions of the Act from a student's perspective:

Right to an Education

If you are aged 6 to 18 years and live in Alberta, you have a right to access education.

Attendance at School

If you are under the age of 16, you must attend school. If you do not, the school can take steps to make sure you attend. A judge can also make an order allowing someone from the school to enter into a place where you are and take you home or to school. There is an exception if you finish high school before you turn 16.

If you are continuously absent from school, the school can refer your case to the Attendance Board. The Attendance Board consists of members from across the province appointed by the Minister of Education. If your school refers you to the Attendance Board, one or three members will form a panel. They will host a meeting (called a case conference) with you, your parents and school staff. If your attendance issue cannot be resolved at the case conference, then the Attendance Board can schedule a formal hearing. At the hearing, the Attendance Board can:

* direct that you attend school

* direct that your parent send you to school

* direct that you take a certain education program

* report the matter to a child intervention worker

* impose a fine on your parent of $100 or less per day for each day you do not attend school. The total maximum amount your parent will have to pay is $1000.

* give any other direction it thinks is appropriate in the circumstances.

French Education

Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that French speakers in a province where French is the minority language spoken have a right to education in French. The same is true for English speakers in a province where English is the minority language spoken. This means that French speakers in Alberta have a right to a French education. Franco-Albertans have the right to manage and control French-language schools. Today, there are four French-language school boards in Alberta. French is also widely taught as a second language in schools across the province.

The...

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