Information Sheet: At the Hearing


A hearing gives parents the opportunity to present and prove their case to the OSET. The hearings are open to the public, except if there is an issue of confidentiality.

Questions and Answers

What should parties bring to the hearing?

You should bring the bound copies of your own and the other party’s disclosure documents to the hearing.

Can witnesses or documents that have not been disclosed be introduced at the hearing?

Normally no new witnesses are introduced after disclosure. However, either party can ask to enter new documents or that a new witness be allowed to testify. The other party may object or agree to these requests. If an objection is raised, reasons are given and the panel chair will make a ruling. The chair’s decision is final.

Who may attend a hearing?

Hearings are open to the public. Parties can ask that confidential information in exhibits remain private and be stored in sealed files. Witnesses may not attend the hearing until they are called to give their evidence. Following their testimony, witnesses can remain in the room.

The school board representatives (usually legal counsel) can have someone with them throughout the hearing to advise them on behalf of the board. That person is usually a school board superintendent.

How is confidentiality maintained during the hearing?

There may be times when the hearing deals with confidential matters. At these times, the panel Chair may declare the hearing closed, either on the request of the parties or because he/she feels that it is necessary.

How do I communicate with the panel during the hearing?

If you have any questions during the hearing, raise them in the hearing so that all parties can hear your question and the answer. Parties are not allowed to communicate privately with the panel.

How is the case presented to the panel?

The case is usually presented in the following order:

  1. Introductory statements by the panel chair
  2. The parties are asked by the panel chair if they have any preliminary motions or issues to raise with the panel
  3. Opening statement is made by the appellant (parents)
  4. Opening statement is made by the respondent (board)
  5. Evidence is presented to the panel, first by the appellant and then by the respondent, calling witnesses one after another
  6. Final arguments are made by the appellant
  7. Final arguments are made by the respondent
  8. Rebuttal by the appellant, if he/she wishes to do so
  9. Final statements made by the panel chair
  10. Adjournment

What are opening statements?

Parents or their representative usually begin by giving an introduction, called an opening statement, to the panel summarizing their case. The opening statement includes:

The board usually follows with its opening statement, which will include:

How is evidence presented at the hearing?

Evidence is information and documents presented by the parties to the panel, including the information provided by a witness.

An exhibit is a document or object admitted as evidence by the panel. Documents are usually put in a document binder for disclosure. The document binder is not evidence until each document in the binder is presented to the panel and entered as an exhibit at the hearing.

After the opening statements, the case is presented by each party in turn. Parties need to consider the order in which they call witnesses. The witnesses who know the student well are usually presented first.

Will the panel evaluate the procedures and decisions of the IPRC, the SEAB and the board regarding the identification and/or placement of the student?

The panel does not evaluate the procedures of the IPRC, SEAB, and the board. The OSET's role is to conduct a new hearing (hearing de novo) based on all the relevant evidence.

What should be included in my closing statement (final argument)?

A closing statement should include:

Does the panel consider the opening and closing statements when making its decision?

Yes. The opening and closing statements are submissions. In making its decision, the panel considers submissions, legal arguments as well as the evidence presented.

Is the evidence recorded?

The hearing will be recorded and the transcript is available for a fee.

What are the OSET’s expectations regarding the parties' conduct?

Both parties, representatives and witnesses are all expected to be respectful towards everyone at the hearing. Parties must remember that the purpose of the hearing is to determine the appropriate identification and/or placement of the student.