On 15 November 2022, elected school board trustees in Ontario began their terms in office. Those who are new to the role should note the following keys to understanding the roles and responsibilities of school board trustees in Ontario.

A school board trustee's paramount duty is to act in the best interest of their school board in compliance with the law, including the Education Act and other pieces of important legislation, such as the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

School board trustees have specific duties enumerated under the Education Act, which include:

  • attending and participating in meetings of the board of trustees and its committees;
  • consulting with parents, students and supporters of the school board on the board of trustees' multi-year plan;
  • upholding the implementation of any board of trustee's resolution after it is passed; and
  • complying with their school board's code of conduct.

The board of trustees establishes and reviews policies, budgets and multi-year plans by which the schools are to be administered, while the day-to-day operation of schools is left to the Director of Education and to the Superintendents of Education and staff, who report to the Director.

Meetings of the board of trustees are generally open to the public and records generated in meetings can become matters of public record. Trustees should be careful in preparing written records and bear in mind that these may not be confidential.

In accordance with the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, individual trustees must take measures to declare conflicts of interest and to exclude themselves from meetings where the trustees' pecuniary interests or the pecuniary interests of certain family members of the trustee are engaged.

The board of trustees and its members play a role in ensuring safe schools and helping to facilitate each student's right to learn in positive and respectful surroundings, free from harassment and discrimination. The board of trustees may also play a role in the negotiation of local collective agreement terms by considering and voting on bargaining proposals.

For further information on this topic please contact Brad Hallowell or Maciej Lipinski at KPMG Law by telephone (+1 416 549 7794) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The KPMG Law website can be accessed at www.kpmg.com.