Ontario school boards have an obligation to make reasonable accommodations to provide children with separated parents with school bus transportation to both of their homes. The Ottawa Public School Board and their transportation provider, the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority, have chosen not to make reasonable efforts to accommodate these children.
On September 9, 2013, the Fair Parenting Project has initiated the intervention of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal through a formal Application. The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has already ruled on this issue in 2012 (J.O v. London District Catholic School Board, 2012 HRTO 732). Despite repeated requests over the past two years, the OPSB has flatly refused to explore solutions.
One in four children will experience their parents separate by their thirteenth birthday. When the school board refuses to provide reasonable accommodation, the parents of these children end up in a conflict respecting school transportation. Children are victimized and traumatized by needless disputes between their households. Oftentimes, tax payers end up paying for these bus disputes to be addressed in the Ontario Superior Court’s Family Division instead of administratively within the Ottawa Public School Board.
Other school districts in Ontario are making accommodations. For the past year the Fair Parenting Project has cooperated with Ottawa’s neighbour in Carleton Place, the Upper Canada School District’s STEO in their very successful implementation of a process to accommodate children with two homes.
Director of the Fair Parenting Project, Eric Letts states: “It is bewildering - there is no excuse for the Ottawa Public School Board to ignore their obligation and traumatize these children.”