Depending on the level of functioning of your child, he/she may be entitled to have an aide paid for by the school system. The quality of aides varies dramatically however and some school boards are more progressive than others. Some children may end up with an excellent ABA trained aide who will integrate with the child’s home based program while other aides are at best, well paid babysitters.
The Surrey school district has a training program for ABA Support Workers. There is still a long way to go, but they are on the right track. For more information visit the ABA Parent Advisory site.
What options do I have to fight for my child?
One option you have is a Section 11 appeal to the school board. Details are available here. This is to be used after you have exhausted all efforts to negotiate with your child’s teacher, integration teacher, principal and administration.
The Hewko case has a major bearing on the quality of education for our children. The BC Supreme Court ruled that the Abbotsford School District breached its statutory duty to meaningfully consult with a student’s parents regarding the education of their autistic child. As a result of Hewko, there are three main parent/child rights:
- The right to consult. This means that the parents can not simply be “told”, but have a right to participate fully in their child’s education. They also have the right to be consulted prior to an aide being assigned. The aide must have “instructional control” over the child. This is not the same as “functional control”. The child does not need a babysitter. They need the right circumstances for learning.
- The right to review files. Parents can view all student records (unless it’s a protection/abuse case) and request copies. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy will apply.
- The right to an Individual Education Plan (IEP). This is done with everyone concerned in one room. Parents can refer back to this document in the future to see if the child’s education is progressing in the specified manner.
For more information about the Hewko case, visit these sites:
- Facing Autism in New Brunswick
- The full Hewko ruling
- ASBC-FEAT Hewko Interpretation (pdf)
- ACT – Autism Community Training. This page annoys me. It does provide some of the background of the case, but the conclusion that the author reaches is something that I completely disagree with. The author is legal counsel for the BC Teachers Federation. This is not a party that is on our side.
This was a very brief overview of the Hewko case. Many school districts are not abiding by the Hewko ruling. The best case scenario would simply be to remind the school district of their obligations. The worst case scenario would involve hiring a lawyer to force them to do what they should have done in the first place. You may find it useful to print a copy of the ruling and have it handy during meetings with the school district.
It’s very important that you document every communication with the school or school district. Every phone call should be logged, noting who you spoke to and the subject. Emails should be saved and copies made of every letter sent or received. Sadly this is not overkill.