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Board's special education plan doesn't meet needs of students: Advocate

Author of the article: Heather Rivers

Publishing date: Jun 14, 2022 • June 14, 2022 • 2 minute read • Join the conversation

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The special education committee of the Thames Valley District school board has rejected a motion to block approval of the board’s $66-million special education plan for 2022-23.

Committee members opposed a sweeping motion Tuesday that raised concerns about the plan’s compliance with provincial regulations, and endorsed the document.

The plan, required of all school boards, details how $66 million will be spent on 11,000 Thames Valley students with special education needs.

Beth Mai, president of the volunteer-led London chapter of the Association for Bright Children of Ontario and member of the board’s special education advisory committee, said she raised the alarm after reviewing the plan as part of a working group.

Mai, who said she advocates for all students with special education needs, said the plan lacks several elements required by Ontario’s Education Ministry.

“Approving that plan is problematic if there are concerns about equity, governance, barriers to access for families, legislation that is not being complied with and how policies and procedures of the board aren’t being reflected,” she said after Tuesday’s committee session.

But Andrew Canham, the board’s student achievement superintendent, said he “was confident (the plan) was compliant.”

“It’s always been an excellent plan,” he said, noting it already has been accepted by the Education Ministry.

“The special education plan has been accepted . . . for the past four years by the Ministry of Education and is compliant with the standards,” Canham said during the committee meeting.

“The plan you have today is, respectfully, an even more fulsome plan and includes additional details that it has not had previously. I truly believe we have a better plan. It is a work in progress, but staff were very comfortable and confident with the plan we have.”


Update June 23: I am an appointed member of one of the organizations advising the board on special education. We just submitted a 70-page report that I spearheaded, detailing issues with Special Education Plan. Clearly, there is disagreement on whether or not the plan is ready to serve the community.


Mai said she was “disappointed” no members of the board’s special education department at the committee meeting asked for more information.

“The committee has a responsibility to alert the board when the document does not meet the needs of students,” she said.

With the committee’s backing, the special education plan goes to Thames Valley trustees for approval June 28.


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