Jan 6, 2019, Globe and Mail: Advocates for students with disabilities call on Ontario to stop school exclusions https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-advocates-for-students-with-disabilities-call-on-ontario-to-stop/ Autism advocates in Ontario are calling on the province to remove a principal’s power to exclude students from school for an indefinite period, saying it is being misused as a disciplinary measure that disproportionately targets children with special needs. A Globe and Mail analysis found that families with children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities are increasingly being asked to pick up kids early, start the school day later or simply keep them home for days. Most school districts don’t formally track these exclusions or shortened days. Informally, parent and advocacy groups have documented the problem and have seen a rise in the incidence of these events. … On Saturday, The Globe highlighted the story of Grayson Kahn, a seven-year-old boy diagnosed with autism who was expelled in November from his school in Guelph, Ont., after an incident in which he struck an educational assistant, leaving her with bruises, scrapes and a concussion. … Advocates for students with disabilities say exclusions are much more common and are generally informal: Parents are often given verbal notice; it is often done at a principal’s discretion; and it can last for months. … Including special-needs students with behavioural issues in regular classrooms has become a matter of debate in many parts of the country, and some educators wonder if it’s gone too far without a rethinking of how children with diverse needs are taught. Teachers report an increase in violence in schools, from threats to physical attacks, that they say makes teaching more difficult. Glen Hansman, president of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation, said there has been some good work over the past few years to recognize and address the issue of violence in classrooms. But “we still have a long way to go because ... the supports in the classrooms aren’t necessarily as they should be to make sure that people are safe," he said. People for Education, an Ontario advocacy group, noted an increase in the number of elementary and secondary school principals who report recommending a special-education student stay home for at least part of a day. … Similarly, a survey of parents of children with special needs released in November, 2017, by the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils found that children with special needs were missing anywhere from half an hour to three hours of school a day, or being told to stay home because of staff shortages. A number of children, the survey found, were sent home because of behavioural incidents at school and these exclusions, which were undocumented, would continue for days or weeks….
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