Complaint to HPARB regarding psychological assessment dismissed

January 4, 2023 | Kayla Cockburn, Renata Antoniuk

The Health Professions Review and Appeal Board (the “HPARB”) in ZH v LL, 2022 CanLII 58408 (ON HPARB) upheld the decision of the College of Psychologists of Ontario, which dismissed a complaint made by a parent regarding an assessment conducted for educational purposes.

The Applicant’s child was referred for a psychological assessment as a “priority for placement.” The school board, due to staffing shortages, was unable to conduct the assessment with school board staff. The Respondent, a psychologist with responsibility for managing assessments, used a psychologist in the community who contracted with the school board to conduct the assessment.

The Applicant alleged that the Respondent was biased, met with his son without the Applicant’s knowledge or consent; outsourced assessment of his son to another provider to avoid responsibility; withheld important information about the family custody situation from the contracted provider; failed to ensure other important information was considered; and improperly expedited the assessment. The Applicant was involved in collateral court proceedings which included issues concerning custody of and access regarding his son.

The HPARB agreed that the CPO Committee conducted an adequate investigation into the complaint and that the Respondent properly assigned the assessment of the Applicant’s son to another provider. Contrary to the Applicant’s allegations, the Respondent, who was referring the assessment on behalf of the school board, was not clinically supervising, responsible or accountable for the psychological services provided by another CPO member.[1] Furthermore, the HPARB recognized that the assessment was expedited in order to ensure appropriate accommodation for the upcoming school year and found that there was no evidence that the assessment was improperly expedited. The HPARB found the CPO Committee’s conclusions were reasonable in deciding whether the Respondent’s conduct met professional standards.[2]

Takeaway:

Consent for an assessment needs to be an open and transparent process. It is also a continuous process, and when a parent consents and later demonstrates some regret with their initial decision, it is the school board’s responsibility together with the regulated health professional conducting the assessment to explore whether there are measures that can be taken to make the parent more comfortable with the decision or, in the alternative, to allow the parent to decide that the assessment will not be used.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to a member of Miller Thomson’s Education Law group.

[1] para 43.

[2] para 46.

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