You are feeling helpless.
Out of control.
Wondering what you can say to convince educational staff to not give up on your kid….
The complete desperation, I remember that feeling. I see you and I hear you.
You aren’t sleeping and you are spending hours staring at your ceiling wondering if an answer will present itself.
I will tell you something very very important.
You. need. to. document. the. harm.
All of it.
And not just the harm to your children. You too! Did you lose a promotion? Lose an educational opportunity? Did you quit your job? Have to leave school?
This is going to feel weird.
This is going to feel like you are stepping beyond the boundaries of normal family life. Yup and yup. You are going to feel that your child’s privacy is being violated. Yup. I get the heartache. Totally.
Documenting the harm that your child is experiencing from the education system can be one of the most powerful forms of advocacy, that a parent can gather.
Here is why.
You need evidence to be undeniable.
You need evidence so that you are not dismissed.
A very important test of human rights complaints and Charter challenges is proving that you or your child is being disadvantaged (harm) because of their disability.
Without evidence, the human rights tribunal will state that your allegations are nothing but conjecture. And will dismiss your case. Done.
Dadmand v. School District No. 36 (Surrey), 2011 BCHRT 323
IN THE MATTER OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS CODE
 That provision creates a gate-keeping function that permits the Tribunal to conduct preliminary assessments of human rights complaints with a view to removing those that do not warrant the time and expense of a hearing. It is a discretionary exercise that does not require factual findings. Instead, a Tribunal member assesses the evidence presented by the parties with a view to determining if there is no reasonable prospect the complaint will succeed. The threshold is low. The complainant must only show the evidence takes the case out of the realm of conjecture.
You need admissible evidence. Period.
Without it, the district will be confident that you will not complete your obligation in the legal test of proving discrimination.
This is about the harm that has already occurred. Not something that you anticipate for the future. Something that has occurred in the PAST, and that you have evidence for.
So…… what proof/evidence do you need?
These are things I would think about?
Videos/Pictures/Witnesses/Doctors visits/Counselling visits, etc.
- Is our child losing sleep? Are they eating less? (Keep a log)
- Are they writing or drawing out their feelings? Keep their creative expressions.
- Did you need to increase anxiety medication?
- Are they requiring counselling? (Note: Government-free counselling will not testify as it is a conflict of interest and the school district knows that)
- What are you witnessing at home? Log details of everything and take videos.
- Are they refusing to leave their bed?
- Are they refusing school? Document the days and for how long. Match it up with attendance on their report cards.
- Are they self-harming?
- If you are seeing any mental health responses describe the behaviour as if an alien is watching… what are they doing? For example, they are rolling in bed picking skin off of their right leg and smearing blood on the wall. (Did you take pictures of the blood?) Describe everything from a clinical perspective. I know this is hard, but you need to do it.
- Are you filming them melting down after school? You can hide the camera.
- Keep their school work with their grades on the pages
- Keep all the report cards, suspension reports and emails
From the Human Rights Tribunal
Evidence can be:
- oral testimony: a witness answers questions in person, or over a speaker phone if the member agrees
- documents: documents, such as pay stubs or letters, are given to the tribunal member by a witness and are marked as an exhibit at the hearing
- things: sometimes witnesses give the tribunal member other things such as photographs – just about anything that helps prove your case – these things may also be marked as an exhibit at the hearing
- affidavits or other statements: a witness’ evidence can be given to the tribunal in writing – this can be a statement such as a letter, or a statement made under oath or solemn affirmation called an affidavit
- expert evidence: evidence from an expert that may be oral testimony, an affidavit, or a written report
What evidence will the tribunal accept?
The tribunal can accept almost any evidence that is relevant, which means that it relates to the complaint or to the response to the complaint.
You get the idea, depending on the child, the list is endless.
As parents, we know what we know, but we need to prove it. Otherwise, our allegations are essentially worthless.
I actually don’t believe that school staff truly understand the harm that is happening to children and families. We don’t all live in the same world. They don’t see what we see.
This is why, we MUST document the harm in order to tell our kids stories.
Even if we feel that nothing will happen. You never know what years down the line will bring.
Keep the evidence.
The opportunity may present itself in the future to speak your child’s truth.