Making educational law readily accessible and understandable for educational leaders

Each province’s statutes and regulations, as interpreted by case law, govern the structure and operationalization of education in each province. Despite their central importance to education, accessing and applying these documents to the day-to-day practice in schools can be both time consuming and confusing for educational leaders. It is for those reasons that Werklund’s Dr. J Kent Donlevy, a recognized national expert in school law, is working with colleagues from across Canada to make educational law both accessible and understandable to educational leaders in each province through the development of a Guide to School Law. To date, Guides have been produced for Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, and are in progress for Newfoundland-Labrador and Prince Edward Island. Planning for Guides in other provinces is currently under review.

The Guides research team from the University of Calgary, Queen’s University, Memorial University, the University of Prince Edward Island, and the University of Saskatchewan, has provided an objective, unbiased reading of the documents that govern education in each province. Each Guide is thoroughly vetted by a rigorous professional review process involving several experts in education and law.  While certain provinces have had information booklets on school legislation over the years, usually provided by teachers’ associations, a comprehensive amalgam of all of a province’s legal documents, including reference to federal documents such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in a reader friendly format has not been available.

Most relevantly, the guides are written for practitioners, and approach the legal system in a way that makes sense for them. The Guides, which are not intended to replace legal advice related to specific cases, provide teachers and school administrators’ essential information and insight into important laws, cases, and other legislation which govern their work. The Guides’ topics cover a broad range of themes, from certification, teaching duties, to the larger school system. By heightening school leaders’ awareness of the legal issues in education, the research team hope to support educators in making sound decisions, promoting professionalism, and raise their self-confidence when dealing with legal issues.

The Guides can be used in all school districts, and include information specific to First Nations’, Francophone, faith-based, separate, and home-based schools and programs. These Guides are already in use by many educators, board members, administrators, and other stakeholders, across three Canadian provinces, many of whom speak to the impact of the documents’ guidance and information. In addition to use in schools, the guides are also included in teacher education courses, which prepare future educators with knowledge of the legal structure in education, as well as their rights and responsibilities of members in their profession.


See more from Dr. J Kent Donlevy on his profile


Connected Citations

Donlevy, J. K., Chomos, J., & Walker, K. D. (2008). A Guide to Alberta School Law (1st ed.). Blitzprint: Calgary, AB.

Burgess, D., Walker, K., Chomos, J., & Donlevy, J. K. (2014). A Guide to Saskatchewan School Law (3rd ed.). Turning Point Global: Calgary, AB.

Kutsyuruba, B., Burgess, D., Walker, K., & Donlevy, J. K. (2013). A Guide to Ontario School Law (1st ed. rev.). Turning Point Global: Calgary, AB.

In the Media

Werklund School of Education. Werklund expert helps write legal guides for schools