BRITISH COLUMBIA April 14, 2015 – The advocacy group BC Parents of Special Needs Children – Action for Equitable Access to Education released the results of its survey today in which more than half (51%) of the 236 respondents, said they had removed their child from public education and of those, 31% indicated they were forced out, while 18% said they chose to remove their child. The group is calling for a meeting with Minister of Education Peter Fassbender to discuss action on the 11 recommendations made in their report. The report and recommendations can be found on their website: equitableaccesstoeducation.wordpress.com.
Karen Copeland, a spokesperson for the group, notes of the half that have left public school the number one reason (69%) given by parents was the deteriorating emotional health (anxiety, depression, PTSD and suicidal thoughts) of their child due to lack of support. She explains “Our families know that their children with special needs are BC’s canaries in the education coal mine. These students are the most vulnerable and the first to show evidence of deeply concerning effects of a failing public school system.”
“The report identified a number of areas where adequate support was lacking including; no access to specialized services (44%), inadequate training for educational assistants (42%) and not following the individualized education plan (43%)” notes Tracey White, a member of the group and a parent who says she was forced to remove her son from public school earlier this year.
The results clearly confirm what families and advocates have recognized for the past decade – “the fiscal restraint in BC’s public education system has resulted in the loss of programs and services for students with disabilities” explains White.
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.
Copeland adds, “This is what our families expect. All children are guaranteed the Charter right to equitably access public education and it’s time for the BC Ministry of Education to ensure it is provided. We are requesting to meet with the Minister to review the survey findings in order to ensure a working relationship moving forward.”
Karen Copeland 778-982-3539
Andrea Kennedy 604-230-4609
Tracey White 604-818-9295
Below you can watch an interview with Andrea Kennedy from the advocacy group BC Parents of Special Needs Children, on the Global News website.