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IEP Disclaimer Form Discriminates Against Students with Special Needs

Summary: 
Some educators in BC are distributing a disclaimer form to parents saying that their child's needs may not be met as the classroom has more than three students with special needs.

The BCTF (having distributed the form to teachers) claims that the intent of the letter is to let parents know that their child's Individual Education Plan (IEP) requires resources that are not being provided by the school system.

We believe that to single out one particular group of students - knowing that there are many other student groups who require extra supports and attention - is discriminatory and done at the expense of students with special needs.

BCACL President Rory Summers responded to the form in a letter to the editor of the Vancouver Sun, below.

To the Editor of the Vancouver Sun,

As a parent of a young man with developmental disabilities and former educator, I know firsthand the challenges that teachers and students face in today’s classrooms. What concerns me is that problems in our education system are increasingly being blamed on students with special needs, instead of root causes such as inadequate resources, training, supports, effective organization and accountability.

As reported by the Vancouver Sun on October 30, 2009, some educators in BC are distributing a disclaimer form to parents saying that their child’s needs may not be met as the classroom has more than three students with special needs. The BCTF (having distributed the form to teachers) claims that the intent of the letter is to let parents know that their child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) requires resources that are not being provided by the school system.

However, to single out one particular group of students ‐ knowing that there are many other student groups who require extra supports and attention ‐ is discriminatory and done at the expense of students with special needs. Each IEP is based on the unique needs of the student and recommends different levels of support and attention. Assuming that learning is compromised when one additional student with an IEP is placed in a classroom assumes that students with special needs place too much demand within classrooms and that they don't really belong in regular classrooms. This is absolutely not the case, when extensive research shows that all students benefit from inclusive classrooms.

If educators are provided with up‐to‐date methods on how to modify and adapt curriculum for students with special needs and support from other more experienced educators, the successful inclusion of all students can become a reality within our public school system.

Finding solutions that will enable the education system to provide these supports to classroom teachers must be the focus of our joint advocacy. The BCACL is confident that educators in BC, the provincial government and the BCTF share a common vision of an inclusive education culture that celebrates and embraces uniqueness, has the appropriate supports and resources, and provides equitable access to lifelong learning. We will continue working together to further inclusive education in this province.

Yours truly,

Rory Summers, President,

BC Association for Community Living