Nov 23, 2022, Regina, Sask. AM980: Parents say elementary school-aged son left without Educational Assistant supports https://www.cjme.com/2022/11/23/parents-say-elementary-school-aged-son-left-without-educational-assistant-supports/
Mandie Clancy tears up when she thinks of her 13-year-old son Cyrus, who has been left without any help from an Educational Assistant (EA) this year at his west Saskatoon elementary school.
Cyrus has been diagnosed with ADHD and autism. He also suffers from a genetic condition that causes developmental and fine motor skills delays.
“The autism makes things like social skills difficult … The ADHD makes things like concentrating, understanding things (and) asking questions more challenging. He is unable to write at his age level. He’s in Grade 8 and I would say that his writing is that of a low elementary school student,” said Mandie.
Cyrus has had an EA either part-time or full-time since he was in kindergarten. He also has a personal computer — as long as he’s allowed to use it at home.
“Cyrus is being missed and essentially being asked to do the things that he would normally require assistance on himself,” said Mandie. “Essentially, we’re getting the feedback that he just needs to get this stuff done regardless.”
She and her husband Marshall presented two “Inclusion and Intervention” plans, including one from June showing that Cyrus needed “frequent” support from an EA, a Resource Teacher and the classroom teacher.
The supports were to help him with tasks, to help with communication issues such as speaking at an audible volume without reminders and without becoming frustrated or irritated, and for social well-being.
According to the June report, the 13-year-old struggles to work cohesively with peers to complete classroom assignments and projects, and to use appropriate language.
Just three months later in September, the parents said they were given a modified report that did not include the need for an EA, and only periodic support from a Resource Teacher. They said they weren’t told why it was changed. “So Cyrus no longer received EA support and received limited or none (sic) resource support because the resource teachers have all been cut in capacity at his school,” said Mandie….
Marshall said he even volunteered to become a “classroom parent” to help his son and others, but has not received a response. Now the two believe their son is simply being left behind.
“Even though he needs an EA, he’s considered a lower priority. It makes me frustrated and sad because we’re trying to advocate for our son while he’s young, to get the best chance at early education and continued education, even though he has learning differences,” she said.
At this point, there’s no plan for their son to receive any EA support. They’re trying to also get support for him as he enters high school from the Autism Resource Program available at two high schools she’s aware of….
SASKATOON PUBLIC SCHOOLS RESPONSE
Mitch Kachur, the superintendent of education at Saskatoon Public Schools, said while it’s unlikely that a child’s Inclusion and Intervention changes from June to September, parents need to keep in mind there are many ways to support intensive needs students, and the overall goal is to support independence. Plans may also be “tweaked” between June and September….
“We do have students that will require significant care throughout their life, and we are prepared to provide that support,” he said.
Funding is provided to the school division and those resources are weighed against the needs of the students and then those needs are prioritized.
“Potentially there could be a time when the threshold is changed, and the threshold has been changed as we exit the pandemic. Needs continue to rise. There may be a shifting of supports,” he explained….
Saskatoon Public Schools currently has just over 539 full-time equivalent (FTE) Educational Assistants, up from 515 FTEs last year. According to a statement from the Ministry of Education, there are 400 more EAs working in schools across the province for the 2022-23 school year than in 2021.
Total school operating funding for 2022-23 is $299.9 million for classroom supports like psychologists, speech language pathologists and educational assistants.
That’s little comfort to Mandie, Marshall and Cyrus at this point.
“I would ask them to find a way to help my son and other people’s sons and daughters …
The EAs aren’t just a teacher to these children, this is part of their learning plan,” she added.
Mandie Clancy, Cyrus Clancy and Marshall Clancy. (Lara Fominoff/650 CKOM)