Monday, March 6, 2017

The Catholic school district’s plan to congregate programs for students with substantial behavioural problems and severe autism at the St. Margaret school building is an optional offering each year for 80 to 100 Grade 1 to 9 students who aren’t functioning well in a typical classroom, said Corine Gannon, assistant superintendent of learning services innovation.--------------“It’s very distressing,” said Bruce Uditsky, chief executive officer of Inclusion Alberta, which advocates for people with developmental disabilities. “The direction of progress universally, internationally, has been to expand inclusion.” Gannon said, “It’s not that old-fashioned kind of segregation at all.”-----However, Uditsky said the district is overselling the benefits of congregating students in a building away from their more typical classmates. “It’s an absolutely archaic and backwards decision that conflicts with all the research on what’s best for children and their education,” he said.-----------James Schroeder Why should all the other students suffer because someone's child is not capable of social functioning. I'm soooooo tired of this "inclusion" buzzword.-------Julie Ali · University of Alberta The inclusion buzzword is not a buzzword but the law. We do have to include students with disabilities in regular classes as much as is possible. If you have a broken leg you are given services and supports in the regular health care system. If you have a disability you should also be given services and supports in the regular school and health care system. Why should our kids with disabilities be segregated? They need to be included in mainstream society just like "normal" citizens. If you had a kid with a disability you would get darn tired of folks speaking about inclusion as if it were a luxury item. It is not. It is a requirements and the Catholic School Board is being regressive by returning to the past. I don't believe other kids suffer with inclusion of a spectrum of kids in the classroom; I believe they benefit. Kids learn kindness, empathy and how to help others. You would think a faith based school board would be all about these matters but apparently not. Only with the most complex cases, is segregation warranted and even then there must be complex care teams to assess over time if such students can be reintegrated into regular classrooms with appropriate helps provided such as teaching assistant support.-----

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Julie Ali Easier for school boards to remove and then return I guess than doing the hard work of inclusion in the mainstream classroom from the beginning. I don't see how destabilizing a student with disabilities to take them to another program and then return them to their original program does anything more than stigmatize the kid even more. It's ridiculous. The school board needs to rethink this dumb move.
LikeReply11 hr
Leah McRorie It's garbage. It's wrong.
LikeReply11 hr
Leah McRorie Remember the LD classes EPSB had? They were designed to do the same thing... reintegrate kids after 2yrs. It never happened. I saw kids in LD classrooms from grade 1-6 all the time. The boards get more money when kids are coded so Boards have zero reason to reintegrate kids back to an inclusive classroom. It's a fucken trap
LikeReply1 hr

Julie Ali Boards do the least possible for children with disabilities. This is why all school boards should be dissolved and the money saved could go to kids. The fact is the school board system is just a training ground for politicians. We pay for folks to train here and become higher level politicians. We could have a province wide one school board system and get the money for where it is needed most. We could get rid of expensive superintendent positions (61 of them) and downsize their salaries as well. Money is being put to the elite while our kids suffer.
LikeReplyJust now


http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/inclusion-advocates-irked-by-catholic-school-plan-for-aggressive-students

Inclusion advocates irked by Catholic school plan for aggressive students

Published on: March 6, 2017 | Last Updated: March 6, 2017 6:00 AM MST
Edmonton Catholic Schools' decision to congregate students with severe behavioural problems at one school is a troubling step backward, inclusion advocates say.
Edmonton Catholic Schools' decision to congregate students with severe behavioural problems at one school is a troubling step backward, inclusion advocates say. PERRY MAH / PERRY MAH/EDMONTON SUN/POSTMEDIA
Edmonton Catholic Schools’ decision to congregate students with severe behavioural problems at one school is a troubling step backward, inclusion advocates say.
The Catholic school district’s plan to congregate programs for students with substantial behavioural problems and severe autism at the St. Margaret school building is an optional offering each year for 80 to 100 Grade 1 to 9 students who aren’t functioning well in a typical classroom, said Corine Gannon, assistant superintendent of learning services innovation.
“It’s very distressing,” said Bruce Uditsky, chief executive officer of Inclusion Alberta, which advocates for people with developmental disabilities. “The direction of progress universally, internationally, has been to expand inclusion.”
Gannon said, “It’s not that old-fashioned kind of segregation at all.”
On Tuesday, the school board voted unanimously to approve an administrative change that would allow the district to set up the new alternative program at St. Margaret, on 98 Street and 71 Avenue in Hazeldean. Gannon can’t remember the last time the district had a designated school for students needing special supports.
Existing programs for students with severe behavioural challenges and severe autism at five other district schools will move to St. Margaret School next fall. There, a team of specialized teachers, psychologists, mental health therapists and behavioural analysts will work to determine the causes of aggression or outbursts, with students learning in smaller groups, Gannon said.
The school will be another choice for families looking for options after all attempts to accommodate a student in their community school have faltered, Gannon said. They’ll attend for an estimated eight to 12 weeks before returning to their original school, she said.
One of the programs for elementary students with severe autism, the Genesis Inclusive Support Transition, has substantially improved how well children get along with their peers and cope with life in a typical classroom, she said.

‘Absolutely archaic’

Edmonton Public Schools also has specialized programs for students with behavioural issues. The Aspen program is just for students with severe emotional problems, and the Interactions program hosts approximately 400 students with autism in about 30 public district schools.
Unable to accommodate all students with severe aggression now, the Catholic district refers some students to private schools, Gannon said.
Catholic school trustees, who have frequently said some parents are dissatisfied with the support available for special education, said they were happy to see the St. Margaret program coming together.
However, Uditsky said the district is overselling the benefits of congregating students in a building away from their more typical classmates.
“It’s an absolutely archaic and backwards decision that conflicts with all the research on what’s best for children and their education,” he said.
Although such a program may give students access to more specialists, it doesn’t make up for what children lose when they are separated from friends and classmates in their community, he said.
Congregating and segregating groups has historically led to more opportunities for abuse and neglect of vulnerable people, he said.
Although administrators may intend to move students back to community schools, those transitions back sometimes become overwhelming for children, Uditsky said.
Provincial education standards say school districts must first attempt to place special needs students in typical classrooms before considering segregation.
A 2009 review found Alberta schools were too often separating children with special needs from mainstream classes, prompting then education minister Dave Hancock to call for more integration.
In 2010, the Catholic school district announced students with mild to moderate disabilities would no longer be admitted to segregated programs.

Isolated and stigmatized

Caitlin Wray, whose 13-year-old son is on the autism spectrum, said her child has attended both public and Catholic schools in Edmonton. When he was younger, his behavioural problems were more severe, and exacerbated by loud sounds, bright lights, touches and smells.
She has found schools are often quick to suggest segregation options when a child has trouble fitting in with a class, rather than bringing in experts who can help modify the environment. Being removed can make children feel isolated, she said.
Typical students also lose out when children with disabilities are missing from classes, she said.
Although she has noted some improvements, Autism Edmonton’s executive director Carole Anne Patenaude said schools can still improve their capacity to include students on the autism spectrum.
“We also know that the role of parents with the schools, the information shared with parents by the school and their involvement in the planning is oftentimes a major frustration for parents,” Patenaude said in an email.
Students who lack the right support in a typical classroom can feel just as isolated and stigmatized as children in a segregated program, she said.
Edmonton Catholic’s Gannon said students’ educational assistants will travel with them to St. Margaret school. Some students may spend part of their day at their community school or in other programs, like a sports academy, which will help them maintain their connections to friends and teachers, she said.
Initially a K-6 school, St. Margaret closed in 1983. The building currently hosts elementary students from J. H. Picard School, who have been displaced by renovations.
jfrench@postmedia.com
Twitter.com/jantafrench

7 Comments
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Peter Shaw
Sometimes inclusion is not feasible, not in the best interest of the student having difficulties, or not in the best interest of the other students. It's good to be kind and caring but it is important to consider cost, safety, and the learning environment.
LikeReply214 hrs
Marvin Roger Hasenbein ·
They ain't talking about "sometimes" here...just sayin
LikeReply3 hrs
Randy Kish
Marvin Roger Hasenbein The article states, "...The Catholic school district’s plan to congregate programs for students with substantial behavioural problems and severe autism at the St. Margaret school building is an OPTIONAL offering each year...", so yes, they are talking about 'sometimes here'.
LikeReply1 hr
Julie Ali ·
I don't agree with you. Most kids with disabilities do fine in regular classrooms. The discomfort appears to be on the part of the "normal" population rather than the disabled kids.

There is absolutely no reason for segregation if appropriate supports and services are present in the classroom. I see no reason for segregation of any kids since they need to get used to the classroom they are in not some other placement which may not be duplicated in the mainstream classroom.
Schools and school boards need to understand that families aren't going to accept segregation when mainstreaming can work. It's just common sense.

Sure this mainstreaming requires more effort, money and discomfort by all concerned but so what? These kids should be treated no different than "normal" kids. These kids will also need to integrate into society after school and so such integration efforts should begin on day 1 of school. Inclusion is more than talk. It is doing the inclusion. #Inclusion.
LikeReplyJust now
James Schroeder
Why should all the other students suffer because someone's child is not capable of social functioning. I'm soooooo tired of this "inclusion" buzzword.
LikeReply52 hrs
Julie Ali ·
The inclusion buzzword is not a buzzword but the law.

We do have to include students with disabilities in regular classes as much as is possible.

If you have a broken leg you are given services and supports in the regular health care system.
If you have a disability you should also be given services and supports in the regular school and health care system. Why should our kids with disabilities be segregated? They need to be included in mainstream society just like "normal" citizens.

If you had a kid with a disability you would get darn tired of folks speaking about inclusion as if it were a luxury item. It is not. It is a requirements and the Catholic School Board is being regressive by returning to the past. I don't believe other kids suffer with inclusion of a spectrum of kids in the classroom; I believe they benefit. Kids learn kindness, empathy and how to help others. You would think a faith based school board would be all about these matters but apparently not.

Only with the most complex cases, is segregation warranted and even then there must be complex care teams to assess over time if such students can be reintegrated into regular classrooms with appropriate helps provided such as teaching assistant support.
LikeReply7 mins
John Johnson ·
Edmonton public does it with great success
LikeReply23 hrs
Bobby Sam ·
Really, what makes you say that? The fact they have programs? Ask teachers and parents about the success. Yes, for some, inclusion is effective however, in many situations, it is extremely difficult for the student with special needs, extremely disruptive in some cases, to othefr students and presents signifiant workload and challenges on the classroom teacher who, despite specialized supports is often the key person who must direct the student's program.
LikeReply43 hrs
Julie Ali ·
Bobby Sam I believe that with effective IPPs and support all kids can be in regular classrooms. However we don't have such supports and services right now and so it is difficult for teachers to provide services to disabled students.
Disruption is relative. Most kids with disabilities do not disrupt classrooms -they enrich them. You would be surprised that some kids who seem to be "normal" are also suffering from disabilities such as auditory processing disorder and ADHD. Some gifted kids are also suffering from learning disorders.
Work load challenges are present but the requirement to provide mainstream education as much as possible is also present.
LikeReply4 mins
Michelle Wakeling Oneill
Interesting
LikeReply3 hrs
Tam Purchase ·
I agree. The article states it's an 8-12 week program and then students are to return to their original school.
I hope they monitor the success rates. Behaviours may be successful in one setting and then revert when back at the original setting. Im sure there are a few doctoral candidates who will track progress.
LikeReply2 hrs

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