Every parent wants what is best for their child. Not every parent is able to get what is best for their child especially if you live in Toronto and have to deal with the Toronto District School Board. Our journey this year has been a nightmare.
Our journey this year began with our return to the TDSB after 2 years away in Nova Scotia. My daughter had previously gone through the IPRC process at the board level. I had thought coming back her needs could best be met here. I was wrong. My daughter has been IPRCed for a dual track for a learning disability and behavior. The fact of the matter my daughter walks the Apsergers Syndrome/ ADHD line. She is smart, creative, funny, giving and on the negative side she can be impulsive and has trouble managing her behavior when she is in a liner thought process. None of that was really taken into consideration and really I had the principal who took more then a tough line with Rachel and put none of the supports in place that could assist her. The principal in no way really advocated or prioritized Rachel and her needs this past year.
My daughter has also been out of school since May 5th. She has not been allowed back into the classroom since that time. For 7 weeks my daughter’s education in Ontario has languished. I was also told this week that IF Rachel was back at this school in the fall her day would begin with a “modified” day. Rachel’s modified day for the last 5 weeks has seen my child at school for 2 hours a week. School work meaning Math and Language with a wee bit of Science thrown in was packaged and sent home for her to do when it was ready. In the 5 weeks really she was given about 10 hours of work to do.
Why did her year disintegrate? Rachel has meltdowns as I like to call them. She has had them since she was a little girl. When she is angry and frustrated she can lash out, she can melt down and her behavior is not the best. She has grabbed a marker and hit a child in the hand, she threaten to hit another boy who had been taunting her with a baseball bat, she ran aound a classroom with scissors in her hand, she threw a marker at a child, and she was rough housing with another student. Because Rachel is 13, her disability is not taken into account, and with the last two of these incidents this year the principal called the police. The first time she was told she could be charged with threatening, the second time she was told it was actually an assault, Yes hitting another student with a marker in the hand is wrong, but where where the classroom supports that were requested as part of the orginal IPRC?
Rachel has only psychological assessment done and it was done by York region when she was in grade 2. According to provincial standards Rachel should of had another one, this year when she came back to the board but she was not prioritized as a high enough need. Children inside the TDSB can sometimes wait up to 2 years for an educational assessment in the TDSB. In the meantime their education languishes and parents are left in nightmare situations. They are left trying to pick up the pieces for an educational system that is lacking. Children are put on “modified” days. A modified day means the school still gets the funding from the provincial government for that child but the child is not getting the education they deserve.
Because Rachel was involved with the police after the principal decided to bring them in ( and by the way principals do have much leeway in deciding to make that call), the police suggested that she not return to the classroom until supports were in place. Do you know how hard it is to get supports for a child in the TDSB? It is like trying to crawl a mountain. As of writing this post Rachel is still waiting for for the required every 3 year assessment I have been told this will likely only be done late in September and then the IPRC can be revisited, which means Rachel’s education is at a stand still probably until January of 2012 at the earliest, but most likely there will not be supports in place in the fall of 2012, so most likely Rachel will lose her grade 8 year. Is it fair for any child in the TDSB to go without the supports they have been deemed to need for 2 school years?
I have been told her “modified” day for the start of the fall of 2011 will see her only in school half a day for math and language in the HSP classroom. So much for getting a full education.
I have also attempted to get a hold of my local TDSB trustee and that is a joke itself as well as his voice mail is always full. I do not think he checks it. As well David Smith does not answer emails.
My daughter has no one really advocating for her education except me.
If you have suggestions on how I might be able to save her grade 8 year I am listening. If you have a special needs child in the TDSB and they too are languishing because of the TDSB and their inability to serve our out of the box kids I would love to know your story as well.
I brought Rachel back to the TDSB because she had 2 horrid years of being bullied day in and day out in Nova Scotia, and I thought she could get the supports she needed here. I see now I may of made a huge mistake in thinking that.
So what really can be done to help children like Rachel get an education in Toronto? in Ontario? and get the supports they deserve.