Vancouver Teachers congratulate parent for continuing with special needs fight



    VANCOUVER, March 28 /CNW/ - Vancouver teachers congratulate parent Rick
Moore for filing an appeal of the B.C. Supreme Court ruling last month that
overturned his win before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
    Those concerned about how learning disabled children are taught in B.C.
public schools have been watching this case closely, and were dismayed by the
B.C. Supreme Court's recent ruling against Mr. Moore. Mr. Moore started the
action a dozen years ago on behalf of his son, Jeff, who was still struggling
to read in Grade 3. Jeff Moore had been diagnosed as dyslexic and referred to
a special centre in North Vancouver for help - just days before the centre was
closed for the North Vancouver School District to save money.
    Mr. Moore testified that he was advised to transfer his son to an
independent school, which he did. Mr. 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.
    Teachers in Vancouver congratulate Mr. Moore for proceeding with his
appeal.
    "This is a really important case," says Glen Hansman, President of the
Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association. "The range of specialized
services needed by many students with special needs is not being provided.
This simply isn't acceptable. The research is there, the expertise is
available, but the Ministry of Education isn't providing the necessary funding
to give students like Jeff Moore the individualized instruction he needed."
    "It breaks teachers' hearts knowing that we know who the kids are that
need the help, but that the staffing and resources simply are not being
provided," Glen Hansman continues. "I hope Mr. Moore's perserverence will
rectify that."
    Like the Azmi Jubran vs. North Vancouver School District case a few years
ago, Glen Hansman finds this current situation frustrating in that citizens
have to drag the Ministry of Education and its insurers every step of the way
through the legal system in order to get the system to live up to its
responsibilities. (The Jubran case pertained to the North Vancouver School
District not adequately addressing the homophobic harassment against Mr.
Jubran, and not being pro-active with regard to preventing similar incidences
in the future.)
    "And like the Jubran case as well," Glen Hansman explains, "it's
unfortunate that the student at the centre of the case has long since
graduated from the system and won't directly benefit from what will hopefully
be a win for Mr. Moore and his family. Jeff Moore is an adult now. But I'm
eager to see what the BC Court of Appeal will decide so that this terrible
situation can be corrected for today's students and future students."
    In the Vancouver school district alone, more than 1200 classes are either
over the class size and class composition guidelines in the school act.
Furthermore, support for all students has been severely reduced over the past
decade. Vancouver has lost dozens of specialist teachers, including learning
assistance teachers and ESL teachers.
    "Recruiting and retaining experienced and qualified teachers into these
roles is difficult because of huge caseloads, frustration for the lack of
supports, and instability in staffing from year-to-year," says Glen Hansman.
    "The funding provided by the province doesn't keep up with inflation and
the real cost of running a school district," argues Glen Hansman. "This
funding certainly doesn't give school districts enough dollars to provide
regular Orton-Gillingham, Reading Recovery, or other intensive remedial
literacy supports to students like Jeff Moore with learning disabilities."
    "The fact of the matter is that the province announced a $4.2 billion
dollar surplus last fall," says Glen Hansman. "But instead of putting that
money into providing top-notch support for students with special needs,
parents like Rick Moore are having to fight the province through every level
of the court!"





For further information:

For further information: Glen Hansman, President, at (604) 813-5318
(cell), or glen@vesta.ca

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VESTA: VANCOUVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION

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