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SCoC rules BC school district discriminated against dyslexic

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SCoC rules BC school district discriminated against dyslexic

Postby oneh2obabe » Nov 9th, 2012, 6:53 pm

Petti Fong
Western Canada Bureau

VANCOUVER—For most little boys, birthdays mean a cake and presents and happy memories but for Jeffrey Moore, his birthday brought on feelings of panic.

“I was having anxiety attacks because I couldn’t read my own birthday cards. I just wanted to hide,” Moore said. “When I was young I had no idea what was going on with me, no idea why I just wasn’t getting it.”

In a Supreme Court of Canada decision Friday, Moore and his father Rick Moore won a landmark case that found that Jeffrey was discriminated against as a child because as someone who had severe dyslexia, he was denied educational support he needed in order to learn in the public schools.

The country’s highest court ruled in a unanimous decision that the North Vancouver School District discriminated against Moore when it closed its specialized program for students with special needs. The district recommended to Moore’s parents that Jeffrey be transferred to a private school.

In the 7-0 ruling, the court upheld a decision that found Jeffrey Moore’s parents should be compensated for the $100,000 they spent on private schooling for their child.

There is, the court found, “an acknowledgment by the government that the reason children are entitled to an education is that a healthy democracy and economy require their educated contribution.”

The ruling concluded that “adequate special education, therefore, is not a dispensable luxury. For those with severe learning disabilities, it is the ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children in British Columbia.”

Within the public system, Jeffrey Moore was left feeling alienated. In Grade 3 he still wasn’t able to read.

“Everyone was moving forward and I wasn’t doing the same work,” he told reporters. “I was put in a corner and given things to colour.”

But in his private school, Jeffrey Moore thrived and earned an award as the most-improved student. Now 25, he works as a journeyman plumber.

Julie Annan, office manager of Stevens Plumbing and Heating, the company Moore works for, said his dyslexia has had no impact on his abilities to do his job.

“Everyone has a disability. He was up front with us right from the start that he has this problem but it hasn’t affected his ability to do his job and his excellent work ethic,” she said Friday.

North Vancouver school district spokeswoman Victoria Miles said the decision is being read by the district’s legal counsel.

“We respect the decision but it’s important we go through the process of careful review of the decision,” she said.

Education Minister Don McRae said the B.C. government is also reviewing the ruling. The case was first brought before a human rights tribunal 15 years ago and has since been heard in B.C. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal before finally landing at the Supreme Court of Canada.

McRae said the government has made many changes since the 1990s including improvements to services and supports for students with special needs.

“Students with special needs today have a wider variety of supports, funding and services available to them,” he said in a statement.

The Moore family was able to get their case argued all the way to the Supreme Court because of support from the Community Legal Assistance Society. On Friday, lawyer Frances Kelly with the society said the decision confirms that students with disabilities have a right to general education and when they need accommodations, the school district must find a way to provide them that access.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/poli ... reme-court
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