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(Canada) Parents protest cuts to SPED; 'don't have enough support as it is'

June 1, 2024, Toronto City News: Rally in Mississauga calls for reversal to special education cuts at Peel District School Board

Parents are taking a stand against what they say are impending cuts to special education classes at the Peel District School Board.

Kady Dawe organized Saturday’s rally in Mississauga outside the office of PC MPP Rudy Cuzzeto, calling for an immediate reversal and support for students desperately in need.

“It makes me angry,” said Dawe. “The classrooms with the special needs children who are already in mainstream classrooms, they already don’t have enough support as it is.”

Dawe says she is advocating for her daughter who lives with autism and says she has had a difficult time getting her child the support she needs in school.

“I actually had to pull her out of school in March, so she hasn’t been at school since March,” Dawe said.

Parents say there has been a steady erosion of special education classes at the board. Starting this September, special education communication classes will be cut, meaning students with autism will be forced to integrate into mainstream classes.

“It’s going to put more strain on the classrooms, it’s going to overstimulate these children that are used to these special education classrooms, and they are not going to thrive,” said Dawe. “Inclusion without proper resources and supports is actually exclusion.”

Sandra Huh, director of the Ontario Autism Coalition, echoed the parents’ call for more support in the classroom.

“We’re seeing that many students aren’t able to get the education that they deserve under the Education Act, and that is super concerning to me,” said Huh.

“Inclusionary classrooms in theory are great, but in practice, if you don’t provide those supports within the inclusionary classroom for the students that need them, it is a nightmare for everyone.”

In a statement to CityNews, the Ford government said the province continues to invest the highest amount ever for public education in Ontario history, with an increase of $745 million [$546M] for the upcoming 2024-25 school year.

They add that they have invested a historic $3.5 billion [$2.6B] in Special Education Grant funding for the upcoming school year, as well as over $229 million [$168M] in special education funding for Peel District School Board. The ministry said it expects school boards to determine the best staffing arrangements to support learning in classrooms. . . . 

CityNews reached out to the Peel District School Board for comment but has yet to receive a response.


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