Help BC students with special needs receive the support needed to access an education

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Parents were hopeful in 2018 when the the budget consultation process produced recommendations to the BC Government that directly addressed improving education for students with special needs.

We call on the government to implement the following recommendations of The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services:

  1. Ensure that teachers are well supported to implement inclusion, equity, and quality learning opportunities for all students, including diverse learners, by increasing funding to allow schools to hire more trained educational assistants and specialists. [2018: #72]
  2. Provide funding to enable early identification of students with special needs, and to provide appropriate support programs, as required. [2018: #73] [2016: # 50]

In spite of the committee recommendations, inadequate special education services still exists. The media in recent months has highlighted some of the issues.

  • Exclusion of students in various ways such as reduced school hours, exclusion from field trips and isolation/seclusion in “calming” rooms
  • Prevention of continuity of support by child-specific trained and qualified workers 
  • Support hours for special needs students being reduced or never allocated regardless of need and without meaningful consultation
  • Lack of specialized training for teachers, educational assistants and other staff to provide support for complex students
  • Shared workers amongst high needs children

The Ministry of Education’s policy for students with special needs states: All students should have equitable access to learning, opportunities for achievement and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of their educational programs.

This policy echoes the Charter protections provided to our children as well as Provincial case law such as:

Hewko v. British Columbia, (2006 BCSC1638): “Reasonable accommodation is an integral part of the duty to consult. Reasonable accommodation in this case involves providing the best available teaching staff for Darren Hewko in the school. In Darren’s case, as in that of all children, special needs or not, the best teaching staff are persons who can demonstrate instructional control of him.”

Moore v. British Columbia, (2012 SCC 61): “Adequate special education (or an accommodation) is not a dispensable luxury, but a “ramp” to access the statutory commitment to education made to all children…” When denying accommodation “…the service provider must show that it could not have done anything else reasonable or practical to avoid the negative impact on the individual.”

We are asking for equitable access to education for children who have disabilities/special needs in the province of British Columbia. Please support this petition.