Re: School Board Budget Decisions and Special Needs Student Access to Education
April 11, 2016
Dear Board of School Trustees,
BC Parents of Special Needs Children – Action for Equitable Access to Education, is a grassroots, parent-driven organization which includes families with special needs students from school districts throughout British Columbia.
We appreciate the very real challenges BC school boards face during this time of budgetary constraints and support the call from BC’s Select Standing Committee on Finance for the Ministry of Education to increase funding for all students in public education.
We also recognize that, at the present time, boards are entering into their budget deliberations with limited funds and many will be making difficult cuts to programs and services. With that in mind, we wish to remind School Boards of their statutory duty to ensure that ALL students have their basic educational needs met first before any other budget priorities are considered.
In Moore v British Columbia (Education), 2012, (SCC61), the Supreme Court of Canada made clear that cuts to special education programs and supports cannot be disproportionate to cuts in regular education. Students with special needs are twice affected when cuts are made to both regular and special education as they access both programs. The outcomes of Moore, 2012 illustrate that a budget cut could result in a disproportionate and unfair impact on some students, and boards must consider how those needs will be met as a result of budgetary decisions.
We ask you to keep in mind the Court’s articulate and powerful statement as you undertake your budget deliberations that, “…adequate special education therefore is not a dispensable luxury. It is the ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children..”
BC Parents of Special Needs Students – Action for Equitable Access to Education