NEW DECISION – Tribunal Declares: Parents of Disabled Children are NOT Important to Public Interest

Here is a blog post that is a must-read!!

“In a decision on a timeliness application, Parent v School District 2024 BCHRT 113, the tribunal confirms that parents can file a complaint under family status in connection with their child’s human rights discrimination case. I encourage you to read the decision in full.

They say this is not unique and cite Independent School Authority v. Parent, 2022 BCSC 570 as evidence that this has been confirmed before. The timeliness application was not rejected because the school doesn’t owe “a service” to the parents, as originally stated in a human rights complaint decision, which rejected parents being connected under family status in Habetler obo Habetler v. Sooke School District and B.C. (Ministry of Education), 2008 BCHRT 85

When you represent your child in a human rights complaint, any money received during a settlement or from a hearing decision will go directly to them. If you have any financial losses due to your child’s exclusion or emotional harm, then you have also experienced an adverse effect. So, parent(s)/guardians, you can submit a complaint just for you.  This is BIG news. It hasn’t been tested at a hearing yet, but your complaint will be considered. It’s confirmed. It’s so possible the tribunal doesn’t even consider it unique.  This absolutely needs to be done within the one year or it will not be accepted because…. And hold onto your hats, we are now moving into the shocking part of this decision.

Brace yourself.

The tribunal has declared with this decision, that parents who experience harm connected to their employment because of the discrimination their disabled child experienced at school, is not in the public interest to address this.”

To read the FULL Blog click below.

What really bothers me is that society seems to think it is ok to not have inclusive child care and education and just expect women to exit the workforce and give up their careers to be full-time caregivers and not get paid for that.

I’d like to know if a parent can file a human rights complaint under family status regardless whether their child’s situation would be deemed discrimination or not, but its discrimination to them.

  1. Do they have a protected characteristic?
    – Yes. Family Status, Sex. (Child has a disability)
  2. Did they experience an adverse effect?
    – Yes. They had to quit school / work / emotional harm (high stress, etc)
  3. Is their adverse effect connected to their protected characteristic?
    – Yes. Their child is on reduced hours, or for other reasons of their own children being discriminated against, they left their work or school.

Now all we need is a parent who is willing to test the system….

ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia – Human Rights Education Case

This is a new case that was posted on the BC Human Rights Tribunal Website March 26th, 2024. This is a timeliness application.

I have read through this case and I feel MANY families can relate to the details of this case or various aspects of this case.

It really deserves a full read, however I have pulled some paragraphs to summarize and give an overview. The analysis of this case by the tribunal member and their determination of whether disability was connected to the harm alleged is really important learning for us parents. It also describes how the tribunal interprets alleged inappropriate accommodations as potential discrimination.

I am also going to be emailing this case to the Ministry of Education and asking them to explain why they are not screening children in Kindergarten. Dyslexia BC has been advocating for this for years!

The Parent obo the Child v. School District, 2024 BCHRT 91

[8] The Child attended an elementary school in the School District from September 2015 until December 2020. He has dyslexia, dysgraphia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD].

[9] By the third week of kindergarten in 2015, the Parent alleges that the Child began complaining of constant nausea and experienced diarrhea and vomiting regularly. She states he told her that he was scared to go to school as the work was too hard and he could not do it. The Parent alleges that the Child’s physical ailments were only present on school days and he began resisting going to school, to the extent that he cried all evening before going to school and lay on the floor crying two to three hours before school. The Parent alleges this same pattern persisted throughout the entire time the Child attended the school.

[14] Around August 2018, before the Child started grade three, the Parent alleges that she asked his teacher if he may be dyslexic. The Parent says that the teacher assured her that her son’s situation was normal, and he just needed to keep practicing. The Parent says that she thought that by raising the possibility dyslexia to the teacher it would prompt the teacher to investigate the issue more thoroughly. The Parent says that she ultimately decided to trust the teacher’s opinion, which resulted in the Child not being appropriately accommodated for his disabilities.

[15] In September 2018, the School District conducted a functional behavioral assessment of the Child. Based on the assessment, in November 2018 the School District placed him in a literacy intervention group. The Parent alleges the placement was an inappropriate response to the Child’s disabilities.

[17] In December 2018, the School District created its first Individual Educational Plan [IEP] for the Child. The plan focused on addressing the goals of the Child attending school and managing his anxiety in a positive way at school. It also addressed various ways to increase his reading and writing to advance him from operating at a grade one level. The Parent alleges the IEP did not appropriately address the Child’s disabilities.

[18] In June 2019, the Parent alleges the Child’s IEP was updated with minimal change. She says that worksheets provided by the school over the summer were too hard for the Child to complete. Once again, the Parent alleges the School District’s attempts to accommodate the Child’s disabilities were inappropriate.

[25] In mid 2020, at the end of grade four, the Parent says that she realized the extent of the Child’s reading struggles as he could not read instructions or complete any online school without her providing him with extensive one-to-one support. She alleges his reading skills were much lower than the School District had previously indicated. At that point the Parent says she began doing in-depth research on dyslexia and other disabilities pertaining to reading. She then decided to pay for him to attend tutoring with literacy specialists outside of school.

[31] ……...The Parent stated that she felt incredibly rushed during a less than one hour meeting about the plan for the Child related to the new information and the complexity of the situation. She worried about several educators being involved who did not have training for children with the Child’s learning disabilities and processing challenges.…..

[34] Finally, the Parent noted her concern that as of grade three the School District had already started to consider the Child as not being a candidate for graduation with a high school diploma.

[37] In January 2021, the Parent says that the Child was enrolled in a private school equipped to meet his education needs. She says that at the new school, the Child received 45 minutes of OG tutoring at the new school every day with positive effects. By the time her complaint was filed in November 2021, she described him as a “different child” who did not complain about going to school and did not get headaches and have an upset stomach or diarrhea. The Parent says the Child was learning at grade level and was now being given the opportunity to be successful.

[49] After reviewing the information on file, I have further determined that there is a succession of separate acts of discrimination of the same character that are separate contraventions of the Code extending back to the spring of 2016. I address each allegation in turn.

[50] The Complaint alleges that on April 4, 2016, the Parent emailed the Child’s kindergarten teacher with his reports that he felt rushed when doing work at school, and despite his best efforts he felt he was too slow in completing tasks. The Parent asked the teacher if there was anything that could be done about this problem. The teacher responded with an acknowledgement that the Child did take his time with his work and appears to suggest that the Parent should reassure the Child that he could take time and not be so hard on himself. From my review of this event, I am satisfied that the Complaint sets out an allegation of discrimination where the Child accessing educational services experienced harms because the School District failed to accommodate the Child and did not meet his educational needs by only telling the Parent to tell the Child not to not rush or be too hard on himself. The harm incurred 12 by taking this action only was the Child not receiving a proper education. I am further satisfied the Complaint sets out an allegation that the School District failed to make sufficient inquiries into the nature and extent of the Child’s disability-related needs in response to the Parent’s concerns. In my view, this inaction caused harm where the School District failed to discover Child’s learning disabilities such that he could then be provided with appropriate accommodations to prevent him falling behind. In my view, the Complaint alleges that the Child’s disability was a factor in the harms alleged.

[51] The Complaint alleges that in November 2016, the School District’s response to the Child’s reading difficulties was to send home alphabet cards and provide video links for him to work on sounding out letters and creating simple words. From my review of this event, I am satisfied that the Complaint sets out allegations of discrimination where the School District failed to accommodate the Child by addressing his learning disability needs in this manner. I am further satisfied the Complaint sets out an allegation that the School District failed to make sufficient inquiries into the nature and extent of the Child’s disability-related needs as opposed to sending home alphabet cards and video links to address his needs. In my view, the Complaint alleges that the Child’s disability was a factor in the harms alleged. In my view, the Complaint alleges that the Child’s disability was a factor in the harms alleged.

[52] The Complaint alleges that in the fall of 2017, the School District addressed the Child’s ongoing reading problems by giving him sight cards to take home and providing him with some one-on-one reading support. At this time, the Parent noted her concerns that the Child was merely memorizing the cards and not actually able to spell the words. She also observed that he was guessing words based on pictures. I am satisfied that the Complaint sets out allegations of discrimination where the School District failed to accommodate the Child by addressing his learning disability needs in this manner. I am further satisfied the Complaint sets out an allegation that the School District failed to make sufficient inquiries into the nature and extent of the Child’s disability-related needs as opposed to sending home sight cards and providing some one-on-one reading support. In my view, the Complaint alleges that the Child’s disability was a factor in the harms alleged. 13

[53] The Complaint alleges that in August 2018, the School District’s response to the Parent’s concern that the Child might be dyslexic as he continued to struggle in school was to assure her that he just needed to keep practicing. I am satisfied that the Complaint sets out allegations of discrimination where the School District failed to accommodate the Child by addressing his learning disability needs in this manner in response to Parent’s concerns. I am further satisfied the Complaint sets out an allegation that the School District failed to make sufficient inquiries into the nature and extent of the Child’s disability-related needs as opposed to staying the course with Child despite ongoing problems and the Parent highlighting the possibility that he could be dyslexic. Once again, I find the Child’s disability was a factor in the harms alleged.

[54] The Complaint alleges that In the fall of 2018, the School District’s response to the Child’s ongoing learning struggles was to conduct a functional behavioural assessment and place him in a literacy intervention group. I am satisfied that the Complaint sets out allegations of discrimination where the School District failed to accommodate the Child by addressing his learning disability needs by focusing on the behavioural components and not his disabilities. I am further satisfied the Complaint sets out an allegation that the School District failed to make the appropriate inquiry, conducting a psychoeducational assessment instead of a behavioural assessment, into the nature and extent of the Child’s disability-related needs. Again, failing to accommodate the child after a proper assessment is alleged to have harmed him by not providing a proper education. I find the Child’s disability was a factor in the harms alleged.

[55] The Complaint alleges that in December 2018, the School District created its first IEP for the Child. I am satisfied that the Complaint sets out allegations of discrimination where the School District failed to accommodate the Child by addressing his learning disability needs with an IEP that focused on the behavioural components and provided ineffectual learning supports not indicated in the later psychoeducational assessment. Again, the School District is alleged to have failed to make the appropriate inquiry into the nature and extent of the Child’s disabilityrelated needs. It allegedly failed to accommodate the child after a proper assessment resulting in the harms related to not receiving a proper education. I find the Child’s disability was a factor in these harms. 14

[56] The Complaint alleges that in June 2019, the School District updated the IEP with minimal changes and sent worksheets home with the Child to do over the summer break that were allegedly beyond his capabilities. I am satisfied that the Complaint sets out allegations of discrimination where the School District failed to accommodate the Child by addressing his learning disability needs with a revised IEP that has the same issues as the first IEP. A further allegation is set out concerning sending home inappropriate worksheets over the summer. Once again, the School District is alleged to have failed to make the appropriate inquiry into the nature and extent of the Child’s disability-related needs. It allegedly harmed the Child by not providing him with a proper education. I find the Child’s disability was a factor in the harms alleged.

[57] The Complaint alleges that in September 2019, the Child’s grade four teacher admitted she was unaware of him having an IEP and provided him with grade two spelling lists work as an accommodation of his disability. I am satisfied that the Complaint sets out allegations of discrimination where the School District failed to accommodate the Child by addressing his learning disability needs by sending home grade two spelling lists for him to work on. Once again, the School District is alleged to have failed to make the appropriate inquiry into the nature and extent of the Child’s disability-related needs. It allegedly harmed the Child by not providing a proper education. I find the Child’s disability was a factor in the harms alleged.

[58] The Complaint alleges in February 2020, the School District’s lack of response to the Parent’s concern that the Child was reversing letters on his written tests is an allegation of discrimination. I am satisfied that the Complaint sets out allegations of discrimination where the School District failed to accommodate the Child by addressing his learning disability needs in the face of dyslexia symptoms. Once again, the School District is alleged to have failed to make the appropriate inquiry into the nature and extent of the Child’s disability-related needs. It allegedly harmed the Child by not providing a proper education. I find the Child’s disability was a factor in the harms alleged.

[59] The Complaint alleges on November 4, 2020, that the revised IEP implementing the October 27, 2020, psychoeducational report findings is an allegation of discrimination where it relied on the Parent to organize and pay for the Child’s OG tutoring and inappropriately 15 continued to focus on treating his anxiety. I am satisfied that the Complaint sets out allegations of discrimination where the School District failed to accommodate the Child by addressing his learning disability needs with a revised IEP not properly guided by the psychoeducational assessment resulting in the Child not receiving a proper education. I find the Child’s disability was a factor in the harms alleged.

[60] The Complaint alleges on November 5, 2020, that the school principal was unwilling to guarantee that the Child would receive tutoring from someone trained in OG tutoring is an allegation of discrimination for the purposes of this decision. I am satisfied that the Complaint sets out allegations of discrimination where the School District failed to accommodate the Child by committing to provide him with an appropriately trained tutor necessary to meet his learning disability needs. This resulted in the Child not receiving a proper education. I find the Child’s disability was a factor in the harms alleged.

[61] To summarize, the materials before me set out a series of discrete allegations of discrimination incidents involving the School District’s repeated failures to appropriately accommodate the Child’s disability over the five years that he attended school within the School District. These incidents involved the trial of various inappropriate intervention activities, inappropriate IEPs and an inappropriate assessment. All these actions attempting to address the Child’s learning disabilities allegedly resulted in harms related to the Child not receiving a proper education. Further, for much of the period in question, the School District failed to make the appropriate inquiry into the nature and extent of the Child’s disability related needs by way of a psychoeducational assessment.

[65] In concluding there were no significant gaps in this case, I have considered the Parent’s submissions and evidence indicating she was actively engaged in the Child’s education during his time out of school over the years. For example, she participated extensively in the take home activities prescribed by the School District while actively pursuing guidance from his teachers, the school counsellor, and the principal. In my view, the Parent remained very much engaged in the accommodation process throughout the years and this lessens the significance of any gaps between the discrete instances of discrimination outlined above. As an active participant in the School District’s ongoing accommodation of the Child’s learning disabilities, I see less significance in the gaps of months between the discrete allegations. While it is possible 17 to say the Parent had numerous opportunities to file a complaint, the information before me indicates that she was actively engaged as a participant in the accommodation process between events where the issue of accommodation arose, which lessens the significance of the gaps in this case.

[67] For these reasons, the complaint is accepted for filing as it alleges a continuing contravention of the Code.

(March 18th) NEW Education Human Rights Decision by Self-Representing Parent

I first have to start by saying, that I have SO much respect for a parent who is willing to bring their case to a completed hearing AND waited for their decision.

This is now the second parent I am aware of who is self-represented and their case decisions are only within a few months of each other.

If you are interested in the other case posted in December 2023
Student (by Parent) v. School District, 2023 BCHRT 237 

Reading through this case, it is extremely evident that this mother is a resilient person and a persistent advocate for her child, which takes so much bravery and strength. So much respect mama, so much. Thank you for taking your case to a hearing. We will all learn from your case and it will help other parents navigate their advocacy journeys on behalf of their children.

This case was dismissed, and discrimination was not found to meet the legal test. The school district was able to justify its actions on a balance of probabilities.

Through my lens, here are some important analyses of the case. However, I encourage everyone to read the case in full to truly understand the context of the case.

X by Y v. Board of Education of School District No. Z, 2024 BCHRT 72

Disability: ADHD and Dyslexia

[6] The burden is on Y to establish that X experienced adverse impacts in his education that are connected to his disabilities under s. 8 of the Code: Moore v. BC (Education), 2012 SCC 61 at para. 33. Once that is established, the burden shifts to the District to establish a justification defence. In this case, it is not disputed that X experienced disability-related adverse impacts. Therefore, the issues before me are whether the District has established that it reasonably accommodated X:

a. during grade 2, in relation to the adequacy of learning support?

b. during grade 3, in relation to the adequacy of learning support and in removing him from the classroom after the a behavioural incident?

c. during grade 4, in relation to the adequacy of learning support, consistency in Education Assistant support, and the implementation of the rewards program or “token economy”?

[108] It is also not disputed that X has disability-related challenges with self-regulation and academic learning. He often missed class, was consistently academically behind grade level, and experienced challenges interacting with teachers and peers. He was excluded from the classroom in grade 3 for a few days, and experienced distress over the possible addition or substitution of a new EA in grade 4.

[109] The crux of the complaint arises from the steps taken by the District in respect of these challenges, and whether it can justify its conduct in that regard.

[110] ….I accept that these incidents which X relayed to Y were upsetting to X. I appreciate that the interactions may have fed into X’s general feelings of unease at school, but the fact alone that these events may have happened is not enough, in itself, to establish that X’s disability factored into them. Not all negative experiences are discrimination. Even accepting that these incidents occurred, I did not hear evidence that could establish, on a balance of probabilities, that X’s disability was a factor in the conduct of the adults involved in these interactions.

[111] With it not disputed that X encountered disability-related barriers to his education, the burden shifts to the District to justify its actions. To justify the disability-related adverse impacts that X experienced, the District must prove that (1) they adopted the standard for a purpose rationally connected to the function being performed; (2) they adopted the standard in an honest and good faith belief that it was necessary to the fulfillment of that legitimate purpose; and (3) the standard was reasonably necessary in that it took all reasonable and practical steps to accommodate the Student: British Columbia (Superintendent of Motor Vehicles) v. British Columbia (Council of Human Rights), [1999] 3 SCR 868 [Grismer] at para. 20.

[112] Accommodation requires a reasonable, not a perfect solution: Central Okanagan School District No. 23 v. Renaud, [1992] 2 SCR 970 [Renaud]. While there may have been other approaches available to the District, this does not necessarily render the one taken unreasonable. What is reasonable and what constitutes undue hardship is fact specific and will turn on the specific circumstances of a particular case: Renaud.

[118] It was when X stopped taking medication for his ADHD around midway through the grade 2 year that he regressed in his behavioural challenges. On seeing that X was struggling with the small group setting for learning supports, the District pivoted to provide him with one on-one support. In other words, it continued to monitor and adapt based on X’s needs.

[120] Ultimately, on a balance of probabilities, I am satisfied that the District discharged its duty to accommodate X in his grade 2 year by reviewing the Diagnosis Report, developing an IEP, making various support people and strategies available that were incorporated into the classroom and outside, reviewing progress and changes, and adapting its approach in response……

[141] I acknowledge that X continued to struggle with not finding school a happy place to be and that a consequence of this has been persistent challenges for Y in getting X to attend. I acknowledge that X continues to not read at grade level. However, the District has not withdrawn, but rather has expanded, diversified, layered and adapted the accommodations it has had in place for X. In some aspects, these have “worked”, as they have allowed X to progress toward learning and behavioural goals, as Y herself acknowledged in her evidence. In others they have not, as X remains reluctant on some days to attend school at all. Y acknowledged at several points in her evidence that the District “threw everything at” the situation, giving layers of accommodations and adapting them to X’s needs.

[142] Y has said that the learning support provided throughout X’s education has not been enough for X to “reach the same level as his peers or possibly excel”. The District’s obligation is reasonable not perfect accommodation. As I have said above, reasonable accommodation is not necessarily measured by whether a student is meeting or exceeding certain standardized learning goals but rather by whether barriers have been removed to provide meaningful access to education.

[159] The District cannot control all social interactions between students and is not obligated to provide perfect accommodation. It is obligated to take all reasonable and practical steps to remove the disability-related barriers to X’s meaningful access to education. Insofar as X may have experienced some social friction with peers related to the token economy, I am satisfied on a balance of probabilities, that the token economy was part of a broader package of accommodation that was reasonable, and that the District took reasonable steps to address the social challenges X was experiencing.

[160] I acknowledge the ongoing challenges X is facing and appreciate that the steps taken by the District have not resolved them to the extent Y would hope. However, for the reasons set out above, I have found that the District has not breached the Code in its efforts to support X in accessing education.

[161] For the above reasons, the complaint is dismissed under s. 37(1) of the Code.

New Page called ADVOCATE HELP DIRECTORY

You will notice I have added a new page called Advocate Help Directory.

These advocacy organizations and businesses specifically focus on K-12 education advocacy for inclusion in BC.

A

ADHD Advocacy Society of BC
K-12 Advocacy Info

Autism BC

B

BCCPAC
Advocacy Info

BC Ed Access – Facebook Parent Support Group
Education Advocacy Resources

C

D

Dyslexia BC – offers direct support in school advocacy

E

F

Family Support Institute – offers direct support in school advocacy
Education Advocacy Toolkit

FASD Support Society of BC – offers direct support in school advocacy

G

H

I

Inclusion BC – offers direct support in school advocacy
Advocacy Handbook

J

Jenn Scharf – IEP and advocacy services – offers direct support in school advocacy

K-R

S

Suzanne Perreault – Inclusive Education Consulting and Counselling – offers direct support

External Complaint Organizations

Ombudsperson BC
Professional Conduct Unit (Teacher’s Regulation Branch)
Human Rights Tribunal BC
Your MLA

Teachers Regulation Branch (BC) vs. Ontario College of Teachers

There are a lot of differences between what happens in BC and what happens in Ontario.

For starters, parents in Ontario get a copy of what parents submit to the college when a complaint is filed by a parent.

In BC, we have to submit a Freedom of Informaiton request, and we are blocked from accessing such information. (OIPC complaint in process. I’ll keep you posted on that.)

But for now…

Let us start by comparing websites.

Website Comparison

Ontario Teacher’s College

They have a tab called “Public Protection” & They have a “Parents” tab

ID: 5 tabs, public protection, parents, members, becoming a teacher, about the college. Under public protection 12 more tab options. Link to the website page is here.

Under Public Protection, you can see that they easily have a tab for professional standards.

The parents tab is highlighted. 6 tabs clearly indicated. Link to the website page is oct.ca.

 

They also have their accessibility policies easy to access.

Easy to find the annual reports listed in the tab below.

The About the College tab is highlighted with 14 tabs. The link to the website is oct.ca

BC Teacher’s Regulation Branch Website

No easily accessible information for parents. I feel that their website is a maze of information and you just have to move through everything. This is not accessible to various groups of people.

I cannot find anything about accessibility policies or any kind of commitment to anti-oppression, equity, diversity and inclusion. If it’s there, I don’t know where. And here is a game to play. Who can find the annual reports? I know where they are, so I know how hard it is to find them. Let’s see if you can find them?

Let’s look at their website and if you were a parent, how would you find out about information regarding this process and what you would need to file a complaint.

This is the main page that you start off looking at.

Under the Information about teaching in British Columbia, you can click on the 3rd item where it says “Read the standards of the Teaching profession”. Which in my mind, looks like an area for teachers.

Ministry of Education in Education and Child Care. 3 Sections, with bullet points and various tabs. The website link to this page.

Then the “Make a complaint or report about a certified teacher” will bring you to Commissioner page. (This has recently been redesigned)

Green band at the top with gob.bc.ca has a new design! Learn more link. This page is the Commissioner for Teacher Regualation with tabs located to the left and General information below. The website link to this page.

You then need to lick on Make a Teacher Complaint.

Or, you can click on the Discipline Outcomes.

You reach this area.

This is the Discipline Outcomes page with a list of the most recent outcomes in the last year. The website link to the page.

Then you need to click on the find out more about the discipline process.

This has recently changed since January 8th, 2024.

Then you need to click on Make a Teacher Complaint. This is the first page that says the word “parent”.

This page is the Make a Teacher Complaint to the Commissioner for Teacher Regulation with tabs on the left and general information down the center for parents, students, staff or other members of the public. The website link to this page.

It used to look like this.

The Discipline Process is outlined with more tabs on the left than the new page. Very text heavy. Same info as the this page, here is the link.

They have two paths to find the teacher standards.

One way, is through the discipline outcome page. To find the teacher standards document to know if they have even broken one in order to file a complaint, you need go back to this page.

Same discipline outcomes page as shown above with the list of discipline outcomes for the last year. Here is the link.

And click on “read about the standards for educators”

And then search on this page.

Here is the Standards for educators page with lots of text and tabs to click on. Here is the website link to this page.

And then click on “BC Educator Standards” to be brought to this page.

This is the Standards for educators page with lots of clickable links. More like a list of tabs/headings. Here is the website link to the page.

To yet, then need to continue to click on another link, the standards for certificate of qualification.

Here is another page that says Standards with lists of clickable links. Here is the website link to this page.

To then know to click on the first link to be finally be brought to the PDF standards document.

Seriously, they couldn’t make it any harder if they tried.

You need to be willing and able to spend hours just going through the maze and reading everything.

OR the second way is to click on Make a Teacher Complaint and find the link in the second paragraph. Then you will still be brought back to the other pages as I showed above.

So, this is the page that explicitly says who can file a complaint and info intended for parents.

This is the Make a Teacher Complaint to the Commissioner for Teacher Regulation Branch. Tabs on the left with written paragraphs down the center with 3 clickable links. Here is the link to this website page.

So now, who was able to find the annual reports?

You have to go back to MEET THE COMMISSIONER and scroll all the way down to the bottom on that page.

You literally just have to spend hours clicking on all of the links, because just by hovering over the tabs it doesn’t indicate to you what the other tabs are inside. So…grab some coffee and hunker down.

IT IS A MAZE!

Now, let’s look at other differences.

Ontario Teacher’s College and why they exist. What pops out to me is the focus on public interest.

Says The College at a Glance with 2 sections both with minimal text and pictures. What we do (We licence and regulate teachers who work in publicly funded schools and many private schools in Ontario). Why we exist. (We serve and protect the public interest. We ensure that only safe, qualified and competent teachers are certified to teach your children.)

Teachers Regulation Branch

I have no idea where their mandate or goals, or guiding principles are located.

Is it this?

Commissioner for Teacher Regulation: The Commissioner reviews reports and complaints about the conduct or competence of educators and decides which process is appropriate to address a complaint or report. Link to Commissioner for Teacher Regulation.

Is this it?

Clip of a link found on Google. Says: Teacher Regulation Branch Investigations. The TRB is mandated under the Teachers Act to regulate the professional conduct and competency of TRB members.

To anyone in the Minstry of Education, can you please redo your website (again) and make it more accessible for parents to access information?

Clearly, not in the public interest.

Thank you.

Self-Advocacy and Victim Blaming in Education

Certain elements of self-advocacy need to be in place.

1. The person on some level needs to be accepting of their disability AND be willing to talk about it.

2. They have to be able to identify when they need help.

3. They need to identify what they need help with and have the language to express it.

4. They need a trusted adult who has proved their willingness to listen to them over time.

5. The child needs to feel heard.

6. The child needs to feel that this trusted adult will believe them when they say they need help.

7. This needs to be repeated enough times and be predictable enough for the self-advocate to feel comfortable and safe to advocate for their needs.

Often school staff will say…..

Well _____________ happened, but if XXXX advocated for himself, this wouldn’t have happened.

That is BULLSHIT.

Children since they enter school are socialized to believe they MUST follow authority or something really bad is going to happen. They think they will be disappointing all the adults in their lives, and kids deep down just want to make their loved ones love them.

All they want to do is to make the adults (especially their parents but also their teachers) in their lives happy so that they will feel worthy and good about themselves. We need to look at their situation through the lens of a child.

There is so much systemic ableism, that people don’t want to acknowledge it. If they do, they are now responsible for changing it.

Learning self-advocacy can take a lifetime. Adults have a hard time advocating. It’s stressful and anxiety-producing for all of us. We need to have realistic expectations for our children. Especially when they are navigating an oppressive system, based on hierarchy, and control. They live in this environment 5 days a week, we don’t.

We have a human rights decision on our side.

It’s easy for schools to make us think our kids share responsibility or are responsible for all of it.

Let’s keep in mind….

Self-advocacy expectations have been defined by the BC Human Rights Tribunal. In Student by Parent v. School District BCHRT 237.

[90]           Generally, it is the obligation of the person seeking accommodation to bring forward the relevant facts: Central Okanagan School District No. 23 v. Renaud1992 CanLII 81 (SCC), [1992] 2 SCR 970. This can be challenging for children, and especially challenging for children with invisible disabilities. I agree with the Parent that children who require accommodation in their school are in a different situation than adults seeking accommodation. Though they have a role to play in the process, that role will be age and ability-specific, and the burden cannot be on a child to identify and bring forward the facts necessary for their accommodation.

Blog from Self-Represented Parent – Human Rights Complaint – Anxiety

The parent who self-represented her daughter has anonymously written a blog about the recent human rights decision on the BC Ed Access to Education website.

To read it click BEHIND THE DECISION: REFLECTIONS AND IMPORTANT FINDINGS ON THE RECENT HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION CASE

Self-represented Parent of Child’s Education Discrimination Case – Partial Win – Human Rights Tribunal

This is the only completed case that I have seen by a self-represented parent in BC, in an education case. And they succeeded in a partial win.

Student (by Parent) v. School District, 2023 BCHRT 237

Some important gems in this decision that I see are:

Meaningful inquiry

[99]           Next, in B v. School District, 2019 BCHRT 170, the evidence supported that the school district provided the child with the recommended supports and accommodations. The Tribunal found that it was “only with hindsight” that it was possible to say that the child could have benefited from more support: para. 81. It dismissed the complaint in part because there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the school district reasonably ought to have known that the child required more: para. 98. In contrast here, I have found that the District had sufficient information to trigger some kind of inquiry or response beyond asking the Student how she was doing and, assuming the counsellor did this, advising of available supports.

[100]      In short, I agree with the District that the Parent and Student were obliged to bring forward information relating to accommodation. The Parent did that, when she communicated that the Student had anxiety and trichotillomania and that school was taking a significant toll on her physical and mental health. That information should have been enough to prompt a meaningful inquiry by the school to identify what was triggering the Student’s symptoms and what supports or accommodations may be appropriate to ensure she was able to meaningfully and equitably access her education. The failure to take that step was, in my view, not reasonable. As a result, the disability-related impacts on the Student, arising from conditions in her Language 10 class between April 24 and June 27, 2019, have not been justified and violate s. 8 of the Human Rights Code.

[104]      In sum, I have found that the conditions in the Student’s grade 8 Language 10 class exacerbated the Student’s anxiety and trichotillomania, and that the District failed to take reasonable steps to investigate and address those conditions during the period between April 24, 2019, and June 27, 2019 (the last day of school). I find this is a violation of s. 8 of the Human Rights Code, and warrants a remedy, which I address below.

Around self-advocacy for children with invisible disabilities:

[90]           Generally, it is the obligation of the person seeking accommodation to bring forward the relevant facts: Central Okanagan School District No. 23 v. Renaud1992 CanLII 81 (SCC), [1992] 2 SCR 970. This can be challenging for children, and especially challenging for children with invisible disabilities. I agree with the Parent that children who require accommodation in their school are in a different situation than adults seeking accommodation. Though they have a role to play in the process, that role will be age and ability-specific, and the burden cannot be on a child to identify and bring forward the facts necessary for their accommodation.

IEP – For a Child with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Trichotillomania

[59]           This ends the period of this complaint.  However, it is important to note that, in the Student’s grade 11 year, the school developed an individual education plan, or IEP, for her. This IEP set out the Student’s strengths, learning preferences, and goals. It identified specific supports for the Student, including flexible due dates, ensuring the Student was not put on the spot in class, reducing workload whenever possible, providing a quiet learning environment, and frequent teacher check ins. It also established that the Student would meet bi-monthly with the school counsellor to work on her goals. The Student’s grade 11 counsellor explains that she saw the IEP as a way to reduce the burden on the Parent and to support the Student to advocate for herself. From the Parent’s perspective, this was a welcome development that should have been done much sooner.

[7]               In this case, there is no dispute that the Student has disabilities, namely generalized anxiety disorder accompanied by trichotillomania (hair pulling). She is protected under s. 8 of the Human Rights Code from discrimination in her education. This complaint is about the Parent’s allegation that the symptoms of the Student’s disabilities were exacerbated in grades 8 and 9 because of her experience in Language 10 and Language 11, and that the District failed to accommodate her disability-related needs in those classes.

** Even without a designation at the time, she is still protected under the Human Rights Code.

Mental Health Stigma – Failure to Identify Diagnosis

[34]           The Parent did not see this email at the time. From her perspective, the email was not adequate to appropriately communicate the scope of the Student’s school-related needs. It did not fully communicate what the Parent had told the counsellor, and what she had expected would be passed along to the teachers. She felt it was also not realistic to think that the Student would approach a teacher and ask to be excused; in fact, this was not an option that it seems the Student ever exercised. In the Parent’s view, the failure to identify the Student’s diagnoses perpetuated the silence and stigma of mental health and undermined the Student. The message contrasts, for example, with the communication that the Parent sent to the Student’s teachers at the start of her grade 9 year, which said:

Communicating and providing evidence of a diagnosis

[13]           In light of the Student’s barriers in advocating for herself, the adults in her life have had to take on a more proactive role. The Parent’s open and active communication has been critical to ensuring that the Student’s needs are recognized and met in school. Throughout the Student’s education, the Parent has let her schools know about her disabilities, and that she may require monitoring because she is unlikely to proactively seek the support she needs.

[14]           There is no dispute that, due to the Parent’s advocacy, various individuals within the School District were aware of the Student’s diagnoses before and during the period of this complaint. For example, in the spring of grade 7, the Parent provided the elementary school with a note from the Student’s psychiatrist confirming that the Student had a “long-standing diagnosis of General Anxiety Disorder”. At the Parent’s request, this note was placed in the Student’s school file.

** This is a very important aspect as this ensures that a district has a duty to accommodate.

From the Human Rights Clinic Blog, Stress, Anxiety and the Duty to Accommodate, they explain…

“However, she did not provide any medical information that said she had a mental disability.

The Tribunal dismissed Ms. Matheson’s complaint, stating that “an essential element of a complaint of discrimination in employment on the basis of mental disability is proof that the complainant either had a mental disability… or was perceived to be mentally disabled by the employer.”

Here is Ms. Matheson’s case.

Family Status – Human Rights Complaints in Education

Here is some clarity to something that can be confusing when it comes to parents adding themselves to their child’s human rights complaint in education. (Your complaint will also need to pass the discrimination test.)

You need to file separate complaints. One for your child and one for you. Then, when and if they are both accepted, then you need to file an application to join them.

As a parent, it makes logical sense in our head to just include ourselves in our child’s complaint because we see everything so connected, but that is not the process that one needs to go through. So, to save yourself some time in further applications and playing catch up, when you file your child’s complaint, also file a separate complaint for you. Wait to see if both are accepted and then you need to file a 7.1 Form to join the complaints.

Here is the application page. You will want Application Form 7.1 – General Application. If you go to page 2 of 7, on that list, 7th on the list down, you will see “Join two or more complaints”

It is highly likely that the respondents will be making submissions for them not to be joined, or to dismiss your complaint. So, just mentally be prepared for that.

Here is the groundbreaking case that brought this option out in the open. So thankful for this brave parent.

Groundbreaking BC HRT – Accepts Parent on Child’s HR Complaint

Direct link on CanLII

You may want to quote this case directly in your complaint.

Also, keep in mind the one-year time limit for filing. If you file outside of the one-year time limit you may want to consider this case. Also, be aware that you will need to have evidence of the harm related to your loss of work or emotional harm.

Experience is such a valuable teacher.

If you have any questions, call the BC Human Rights Clinic. They are the best people to talk to about your complaint or any questions about the process. Processes do change, forms change, and with each new human rights case decision that gets posted – arguments can change. (This blog was written on Dec 21st, 2023)