BC Guide for Independent Schools

Administering the Independent School Act

This section includes:

Independent School Act and the Role of the Inspector

The Inspector is responsible to the Minister for the administration of the Independent School Act (the Act or ISA) and Regulations, Minister's Orders and Inspector's Orders made under the Act. The Inspector's duties include registering, inspecting, and classifying all provincial Kindergarten - Grade 12 independent schools; ensuring that schools maintain standards consistent with their classification; issuing operational, special education and homeschool registration grants to qualifying independent schools and administrating the Ministry of Education's independent school distributed learning programs and homeschooling policies.

Inspector's Orders Required to Administer the Independent School Act
The Inspector issues Inspector's Orders to provide operational administration of the Act and Regulations and may amend these orders from time to time.

Legal Action Involving Non-Compliance with the Independent School Act
The Inspector is authorized to initiate legal action on behalf of the Ministry when issues of non-compliance with the Act arise (ISA, section 15 (PDF, 89KB)).

Other Relevant Legislation and Regulations

Bonding Act
Independent schools classified as Group 4 must post bonds in accordance with the provisions of the Bonding Act - Bonding Regulation, Division 7.1.

Child Care
Pre-school programs do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Inspector of Independent Schools. To obtain a license to operate a pre-school facility, application must be made to the regional health board. For licensing of employees, contact the Community Care Facilities Branch, Ministry of Health Services.

Child, Family and Community Service Act (Boarding)
Schools which wish to operate boarding facilities for students must receive the written consent of the director designated under the Child, Family and Community Service Act. (Society Act, section 2(1)(a)).

Child, Family and Community Service Act (Child Abuse)
Section 14 of the Child, Family and Community Services Act (CFCSA) requires a person to report to a child welfare worker in the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) if the person believes that the child is in need of protection in the situations set out in section 13 of the CFCSA. This may be facilitated by calling the Helpline for Children (310-1234), the local MCFD office, or the toll-free after-hours number (1-800-663-9122, or 660-4927 in Vancouver).

It is critical for independent school administrators and teachers to be informed and up-to-date in matters pertaining to the detection, reporting and investigation of child abuse.

In instances of confirmed or potential child abuse and neglect, all school personnel are advised to refer to the BC Handbook for Action on Child Abuse and Neglect (PDF, 801KB) for guidance in informing appropriate child care personnel and coordinating appropriate support services.

Supporting Our Students: A Guide for Independent School Personnel Responding to Child Abuse (PDF, 39KB) provides guidelines for independent schools and supplements the BC Handbook for Action on Child Abuse and Neglect.  The Ministry of Children and Family Development has provided information to update this protocol for independent schools (PDF, 782KB) to reflect amendments to the CFCSA. 

Independent school authorities and principals are to advise the Inspector when an employee of an independent school is reported for alleged child abuse.

Criminal Records Review Act (Criminal Record Checks)
The Act requires all persons employed by independent schools to undergo criminal record checks if the employed persons' work involves working with children.

Employment Standards Act
Independent schools must follow the hiring, employment and termination laws as found in the Employment Standards Act.

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act applies only to government or quasi-government bodies. It does not apply to independent schools, but it does apply to all information government holds about independent schools. However, please note the comments under the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) below.

Gaming Control Act (Direct Access Grants)
Parent support groups of independent schools may apply for a Direct Access Grant. Such grants must be used by the parent support groups to purchase goods or services for independent school students that are not part of the normal budget (example: band uniforms). For information consult the Gaming Policy and Enforcement web site.

Human Rights Code
The Human Rights Code outlaws discrimination on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age. Section 41 permits non-profit organizations whose primary purpose is the "promotion of the interests and welfare of an identifiable group or class of persons characterized by a physical or mental disability or by a common race, religion, age, sex, marital status, political belief, colour, ancestry or place of origin" to grant a preference to members of the identifiable groups.

Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)
The Personal Information Protection Act applies to independent school authorities. It sets out how independent schools have to deal with the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. Helpful sample policies for independent schools may be found on the Federation of Independent School Associations' website.

School Act
A public school board may share facilities and services with an independent school. Examples from across the province include transportation, learning resource centres, and diagnostic services for learning disabilities. A public school board may also lease to independent schools any of its surplus or temporarily unused facilities, such as classrooms, under Part 6, section 85(2)(g) of the School Act (PDF, 567KB).

Social Services Tax Act (Sales Tax Rebate)
Parent support groups of independent schools may receive a sales tax rebate on goods bought for an independent school with money raised by the parent support groups. For information see the Federation of Independent School Associations.

Society Act and Business Corporation Act
An independent school authority must submit an Annual Report (Form 11) to the Registrar of Companies within 30 days of its annual general meeting in order to maintain "good standing".

Taxation Legislation
Independent schools qualify for exemption from municipal property taxes as "a building owned by an incorporated institution of learning that is regularly giving children instruction accepted as equivalent to that given in a public school, in actual occupation by the institution and wholly in use for the purpose of giving the instruction, together with the land on which the building stands (Community Charter, section 220(1)(l) and section 224(2)(h). The independent school authority must make application to the appropriate local tax authority to establish the extent of the exemption.

Similar legislative provisions appear in section 15(1)(o) of the Taxation (Rural Area) Act, and in section 396(1)(c)(ii) of the Vancouver Charter. A school which meets the requirements under one of these statutes is also exempt from school taxes by virtue of section 129(e) or 131 of the School Act (PDF, 567KB). It is also possible for schools to be exempted from paying the land transfer tax when new property for a government-funded school is being purchased (Property Transfer Tax Act, section 14(4)(i)).

Teachers Act
This statue sets out the framework for teachers to be issued a certificate of qualification.

Workers Compensation Act
The Workers Compensation Act establishes standards for compensation for workplace injury, mental stress, occupational disease or hearing loss. This statute applies to employees of the school and students Grades 10 to 12 of public and independent schools on school-related work experience.