Special education advocates applaud parent decision to appeal B.C. Supreme Court's ruling in Moore case



    VANCOUVER, March 28 /CNW/ - Vancouver education advocates are celebrating
the news the Jeffrey Moore Learning Disabilities case is being appealed to the
B.C. Court of Appeals.
    "I'm very grateful for Rick Moore's perseverance in taking this issue
forward. He is and was not only a great advocate for his son, Jeffrey, he is
also standing up for thousands of BC students and their families who struggle
to access education in our under-funded public schools," says Patti Bacchus,
coordinator of Vancouver Parents for Successful Inclusion (VPSI).
    Ms. Bacchus and other community members are pleased that Mr. Rick Moore
has decided to appeal this month's B.C. Supreme Court decision which
overturned Mr. Moore's previous win at the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
    Mr. Moore started legal action a dozen years ago on behalf of his son
with dyslexia, Jeff, who was still struggling to read in Grade 3. Jeff was
referred to a special centre in North Vancouver for help, only a few days
before the centre was closed to save the district money. Mr. Moore testified
that he was advised that he should transfer his son to an independent school,
which he did. Moore claimed that the school board's failure to teach his son
to read amounted to discrimination and the human rights tribunal agreed, after
a public hearing. But that decision was overturned earlier this month by the
B.C. Supreme Court.
    "As parents and as members of the public concerned about special
education services in B.C., we're alarmed to see the extent to which critical
front-line services have been eroded in the last decade due to provincial
underfunding and changes to the provincial funding formula," says Dawn Steele,
a parent of a student in Vancouver's public schools.
    "This hurts all students," she argues. "Students with learning
disabilities, who no longer benefit from targetted provincial funding, and
whose challenges are among the most invisible, have been among those hardest
hit."
    "Parents have been struggling for too long for adequate support," argues
Jane Bouey, former Vancouver School Board trustee. "My son has just recently
finished public school," Jane Bouey says. "I joined the others pointing out
how grossly inadequate supports were when he was in Grade 1. The waiting list
for assessments then was two years - but at least students were getting
assessed, not just being encouraged to leave the public education system.
Despite budget surpluses, despite changes in government, an entire generation
of students has been and continues to be denied the education that is their
right. This cannot be allowed to continue."
    "Success in school for students with special needs, and learning
disabilities in particular, now depends largely on the financial capacity of
their parents to pay - whether for costly private tutoring or private
schooling," states Glen Hansman, President of the Vancouver Elementary School
Teachers' Association. "This goes against every principle that underlies
Canada's public education system. It's a wrong that needs to be corrected
urgently, so we urge the Education Minister to do the right thing, to spare
taxpayers from more futile and costly legal action and take immediate steps to
address the problem and spare the Moore family from a further ordeal. Haven't
they sacrificed enough?"
    Special education advocates encourage concerned citizens to sign the
online petition for special education available at
www.ipetitions.com/petition/ldabc.
    "We've just crossed the 2,000 signature mark," Dawn Steele says, "but are
hoping for at least 10,000. The moving comments from teachers, parents,
students and ordinary citizens stress how totally senseless it is to deny any
student the help they need to succeed in life."





For further information:

For further information: Dawn Steele, (604) 874-1416; Patti Bacchus,
(604) 250-1130 (cell)

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VESTA: VANCOUVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION

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