Parents of children with special needs asked to provide extra proof
Published Monday, January 25, 2016 8:10PM PST
Hundreds of Metro Vancouver parents whose children have special needs are being asked to provide additional proof of the disabilities for a provincial audit, leaving many families frustrated.
The purpose of the audit is to determine how many children with special needs there are in various districts and which categories they fall into, but some parents are questioning why they have to re-establish something school boards already know.
Coquitlam resident Jim Smith, whose daughter Alexis has Down syndrome, is among the people being asked to prove once again that their kids require extra support.
He told CTV News his family has been told a single doctor’s note won’t suffice, and they’ll have to provide more documentation.
“It’s frustrating that we’re going to have to continually fight and continually prove she needs help,” Smith said.
“The Down syndrome is not going to go away. She was born with it, she will always have it.”
In Vancouver, Tom Wiebe said he’s been asked to hand over the same diagnostic papers he’s previously submitted proving his son Trajan has nonverbal autism.
Wiebe said he considers their family among the more fortunate ones.
“There are a lot of people I know having to spend hundreds of dollars and take days off work [for] specialist appointments,” he said.
The Vancouver School Board, which is just one of the boards facing the audit, gets $40 million in funding annually to provide for students with special needs,
Nancy Brennan, associate superintendent of learning services, said ensuring there’s thorough documentation will help protect that funding.
“We understand this is causing some concern for parents and we really feel for them,” Brennan said. “We just want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to make sure we have everything we need so that their students get the services they need.”
B.C.’s Ministry of Education said these audits are common, and are conducted on a rotating basis across the province, but acknowledge it’s the first time there’s been one in Vancouver in a decade.
“We understand that it can be a challenge for parents to be asked for these types of records more than once,” a spokesperson said in an email.
“As school districts prepare for audits, individual schools check to make sure their files are complete. When gaps are found the schools reach out to parents for the missing information.”
The education minster declined to comment Monday, but in a social media exchange with a CTV News staffer he expressed concerns with the policy and said it was the first he’d heard of it.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Roberts