Protecteur national de l'élève

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Making a Complaint

Effective August 28, 2023, the government of Quebec passed the standardized, province-wide “Protecteur national de l'élève”, a set of laws and procedures to protect all children in our province. The information that follows is the protocol outlined by the government. However, it is intended as an additional step to the school processes that allow for constructive communication and collaboration with LCC parents in support of their children. 

Student and Parent Rights

The National Student Ombudsman is responsible for applying the complaint and report processing procedure in Quebec’s education system.

As part of this province-wide and standardized procedure, the National Student Ombudsman is assisted by the Regional Student Ombudsmen throughout Quebec. Together, they ensure that student and parent rights are upheld. As a result, they contribute to the continuous improvement of education system services.

Filing a complaint

Should the student or their parent be dissatisfied with the educational services they received, are receiving, should have received, or need, they can file a complaint based on a procedure that consists of a maximum of three steps:

Step 1 – Person directly concerned or the person’s immediate superior

  • To file a complaint, the student or their parent must first approach the person directly concerned or that person’s superior (e.g., grade coordinator, division director, department heads).
  • The complaint may be verbal, but it is better if it is made in writing.
  • The person who receives the complaint has 10 working days to respond.

Step 2 – Person responsible for processing complaints

Step 3 – Regional Student Ombudsman

  • If the student or their parent is still dissatisfied with how the complaint is being handled, or if the 15-day deadline has expired, they may contact their Regional Student Ombudsman, who will help them draft their written complaint.
  • The student or their parent may choose the form of communication that best suits them among the following:
  • Regional Student Ombudsmen have 20 working days to examine the complaint and issue their conclusions. If they deem that the complaint is substantiated, they may make recommendations to LCC.
  • However, before the conclusions are sent, the National Student Ombudsman examines them. They have up to five working days to decide whether to examine the complaint in turn. If so, they have 10 working days to complete the examination and, if need be, to substitute their conclusions or recommendations for those of the Regional Student Ombudsman.
  • The Regional Student Ombudsman then informs the complainant and LCC about the conclusions and any recommendations.
  • LCC has 10 working days to inform the complainant and the Regional Student Ombudsman of whether it intends to follow up on the conclusions and recommendations made to it, or if it has decided not to act on them.

Note that in the case of sexual violence, the student or one of their parents may approach the Regional Student Ombudsman directly if they wish to do so.

Making a report

A report, which anyone can make, is possible only if it concerns sexual violence1 against a student who attends an educational institution.

 Such a report is made directly to the Regional Student Ombudsman, omitting the first two steps, by:

  • a teacher
  • a non-teaching professional staff member
  • a member of the executive staff of an educational institution
  • other students or one of their parents
  • etc.

The person who makes the report may choose the form of communication that best suits them among the following:

Reports are fast-tracked. The information that could serve to identify the person who makes the report is kept confidential, unless the person’s consent has been given. If required by law, the Regional Student Ombudsman discloses the person’s identity to the Director of Youth Protection.

Regional Student Ombudsmen may also, on their own initiative, process cases of sexual violence.

Protection against reprisal

The Act respecting the National Student Ombudsman protects against reprisal for people who, in good faith, make a report or file a complaint, cooperate in the processing of a report or complaint or accompany a person who makes a report or files a complaint.

It is also prohibited to threaten to retaliate against a person to dissuade them from filing a complaint or making a report.

The following are presumed to be reprisal measures against students or their parents:

  • Depriving them of rights
  • Treating them differently
  • Suspending or expelling the student

For the staff members of an educational institution who make a report or cooperate in the examination of a complaint or report, the following are presumed to be reprisal measures:

  • Their demotion
  • Their suspension
  • Termination of their employment
  • Their transfer
  • Disciplinary sanctions or other measures that adversely affect their employment or working conditions

Fines for a natural person who retaliates or threatens to retaliate range from $2,000 to $20,000. Fines can vary from $10,000 to $250,000 for legal persons.

[1] "The concept of sexual violence refers to any form of violence committed through sexual practices or by targeting sexuality, including sexual assault. It also refers to any other misconduct, including that relating to sexual and gender diversity, in such forms as unwanted direct or indirect gestures, comments, behaviours or attitudes with sexual connotations, including by a technological means." For further information about acts of sexual violence, see the Government of Québec page on the forms of violence.