Since September 4th, 2018, BCEdAccess has been collecting data on the exclusion of students with disabilities from schools in BC. It is our intention to highlight some of the systemic issues so that districts may start looking at this data themselves and work on solutions.
In this, our first interim report, we note that all grades, from K-12, are represented by survey respondents. Here are some of the findings so far:
35 out of 60 districts have reports of exclusions
What does this mean? It’s hard to say, but probably this is more about the survey’s reach than anything. If we were to do more outreach in the unrepresented districts we might see more exclusion. What it does tell us is that this is not an issue that’s isolated to only a few districts. Some of the more populated districts have a larger piece of the pie chart, but this could be due to over-representation – it’s hard to ascribe the results to any one district having more or less successful outcomes.
The takeaway? It happens everywhere, in urban and rural districts, it’s not rare and it’s not unusual.
How many people?
As of this writing we’ve had 228 reports. But this doesn’t tell the whole story.
The majority of the submissions are a single report documenting repeated instances of exclusion. In future surveys we will need to add something to the design to allow better tracking of this.
We made the attempt to tally the single instances of daily exclusion. It was difficult to be precise, but the number is over 1200.
What kind of schooling?
96.8% public school and 3.2% independent school
For comparison, overall independent school enrollment is 12.9% of all students in BC.
Is your child designated?
5.4% of respondents said their child is waiting for assessment.
What are the designations of the other 94.6%? Highly varied.
Categories A, C, D, E, F, G, H, P and Q all represented
- Level 1
- Physically Dependent (A)
- Deafblind (B)
- Level 2
- Moderate to Profound Intellectual Disability (C)
- Physical Disability or Chronic Health Impairment (D)
- Visual Impairment (E)
- Deaf or Hard of Hearing (F)
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (G)
- Level 3
- Intensive Behaviour Interventions or Serious Mental Illness (H)
H (Students Requiring Intensive Behaviour Intervention) has by far the highest representation at 65.4%
How much time was missed?
This was very well covered by BCCPAC in their report of last year. They surveyed over 800 parents and documented clearly just how much educational time has been missed by students not attending full days of school. Here is their report:
Here’s how it looks so far in our survey:
This pie chart requires some discussion. By far the largest category is ‘Other’, at 35.7%.
All but 2 of those who chose “Other’ indicated they chose it so that they could cite either multiple days of exclusion, or an issue that is continuous and ongoing.
This leads into why children are being excluded. Below is just a sampling of the types of exclusion cited.
There are multiple examples of each type of exclusion listed:
-Being asked not to bring their child for the first one to four weeks of school
-Is only allowed to attend 2 hours per day
-Is not allowed to attend until there is an EA in place
-Missing a half day weekly
-excluded because of bullying or other safety concerns
-If parent can attend, child can attend, but if not, child cannot attend as there are no supports
-can only attend a short part of the day; no plans to extend the time because there is no staff
-Not enough funds to support child full time
-Excluded from every field trip so far
-Excluded from all extra-curriculars
-Excluded from course because the course materials are not adapted
-Excluded from elective high school courses
Often we hear from school districts that these exclusions are mostly agreements with parents. I suppose they can say this because parents often do agree. Here’s the thing, though:
a) Most parents don’t know it’s an option to refuse, and b) Many parents cited feeling ‘forced’ into agreeing to the exclusion, and only some of them are actually appealing the decision. In the main, parents are more apt to try to work collaboratively with the school, in the meantime disrupting things at home to find a way to make these shortened days or unexpected exclusions work.
Was the child’s usual support personnel absent?
We had expected to see here that the most common answer was yes.
In fact, the two biggest answers were ‘No’, and “My child has no usual support personnel’.
What this tells us is that the usual staff are there, there just aren’t enough of them. And that 35.1 percent of children being excluded have no support personnel at all.
Was your child physically restrained?
Inclusion BC has done 2 reports on this issue at this point – Stop Hurting Kids 1 and 2. Read them here:
Their surveys indicate that not only does seclusion and restraint happen alarmingly frequently, but that there has been no great change over a 5 year period. This requires urgent attention.
Our survey shows, so far, that 4 percent said yes, their child was restrained. That’s 9 children (out of 228) too many.
Also worrying is the 19.2% of respondents who said ‘not sure’. With some children being nonverbal or having other communication deficits, it’s hard to know for sure what is happening at school.
Is there anything else you would like to include?
There was a great deal that respondents wanted to add. Many were more specific descriptions of the circumstances of their child’s exclusions. Some took the time to say how important the relationship with the school team was to them, and they expressed their fear of jeopardizing that by complaining. Mental health concerns feature prominently.
At the beginning of the school year and even as recently as last week, respondents are still waiting to hear about potential supports for their children – EAs and also technical supports, programming, and learning resources.
I’m going to finish up this report with just a few of the quotes from the 228 respondents. They speak for themselves.
“When I dropped my child off at school, I was asked to take them home, because my child is Deaf-blind, and there would be no one there with my child”
“My child has never had any real education”
“I think it sucks they don’t have placement for kids who need assistance until the second week, which basically forces the parents to keep the child home until they have a placement”
“They left it up to me to send him or not which is wrong. I would not be a responsible parent if I were to set him up for failure. But they seem to be taking their time and leaving the follow up to me which is wrong as well.”
“Desperate to find an advocate to convince the principal together with me, with the experience of special need rights to deal with the the principal.”
“According to school staff they are not funded enough to support our son full time.”
“Just because a child is well behaved in the classroom doesn’t mean he should miss out or be left to flounder academically in the classroom”
“We’ve been told there is only enough funding to support my daughter with an EA 50% of time”
“This family is under severe strain and I am very worried about them.”