April 14, 2015
Honourable Peter Fassbender
Minister of Education
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Dear Minister Fassbender:
We are BC Parents of Special Needs Children – Action for Equitable Access to Education advocacy group and we are writing to inform you that the answer to the question “Are BC Public Schools Forcing Students with Special Needs Out?” is “Yes”.
Since the fall of 2014 we have heard from hundreds of families of special needs students about their experiences in BC public schools, both through our advocacy support group and our web-based survey.
Today we are releasing the findings of our survey and they tell of a public education system that is severely failing its most vulnerable students and of families that are paying a very heavy price – the deteriorating emotional health, including anxiety, depression, PTSD and suicidal thoughts; of their children. Our key findings include:
- Half (51%) of the 236 respondents have removed their child from public education and of those, 31% indicated they were forced out, while 18% said they chose to remove their child
- Of the half that have left public school the number one reason (69%) given by parents was the deteriorating emotional health of their child due to lack of support.
- 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%)”
Mr. Fassbender, 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 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 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 a meeting with you to review the survey findings, our 11 recommendations and to develop a working relationship moving forward. The report and recommendations can be found on our website: www.equitableaccesstoeducation.wordpress.com. We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Karen Copeland, Andrea Kennedy and Tracey White on behalf of
BC Parents of Special Needs Children – Action for Equitable Access to Education
Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Horgan, Leader, NDP, email: email@example.com
Rob Fleming, NDP Opposition spokesperson for Education, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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