Family finds ruling to ensure support for autistic child
Published Friday, June 7, 2013 1:33PM MDT Last Updated Saturday, June 8, 2013 7:01PM MDT
A Calgary mother took matters into her own hands and hired a lawyer to make sure her autistic son gets the support he needs while at school.
Heather Daly was shocked at the lack of support her child was getting and when her complaints fell on deaf ears at the CBE, she took action.
J.J. Daly has autism and grooving to a dance video game is an after school routine that he does to improve his motor skills.
The family moved from the United States to Calgary last year.
When J.J.’s mother Heather enrolled him in school she was shocked to learn about the lower level of support and services her son was receiving in his Alberta classroom.
“J.J. was getting observational services once a month and that was it and he was in a segregated classroom. The aide ratio is one to two," said Heather Daly.
After several failed attempts to get more support for her son, Heather hired a lawyer to help.
The family sent letters through their lawyer to the Calgary Board of Education outlining the higher level of support and services that J.J. required.
The family’s lawyer found a little known Supreme Court ruling known as the Moore Ruling that spelled out the legal rights of students with learning disabilities.
The ruling promises the right to an education that allows students with disabilities access to programs, services and tools to develop their full potential.
When the issue was brought to the school board's attention, the CBE agreed to the family’s requests.
"If it wasn't for Moore it would've been very difficult, if not impossible for Heather to justifiably insist on more service and supports from the Calgary Board of Education," said Lawyer, Ryan Pelletier.
Heather eventually dropped her legal case.
The CBE wouldn't directly comment on the situation but say it welcomes engagement from parents regarding their child's learning.
"Parents are, we consider, as part of student's learning team and so they are invited to regularly meet with the teachers to get an update on the progress of their child. To approve the programming that is in place and the services and supports," said Elizabeth Gouthro from the CBE.
"I'm really impressed with the CBE now that we've explained what J.J. needs. They've been very forth coming and saying yes we can do this for your child. But it took me hiring a lawyer and an educational advocate to find somebody within the CBE that would listen," said Heather.
Parents with questions or concerns about support for their child can find a wealth of information from groups like Autism Calgary.
(With files from Kathy Le)