The allocation of services for students in various categories is not like a Chinese Food Menu…if you have designation “X”, it comes with egg rolls and a full time EA
The Ministry began by determining, in a very broad way, approximately how much it will cost to meet the needs of students in certain special education categories. They recognize that the sum they have come up with may exceed the cost of meeting the needs of some students and be insufficient to meet the needs of others within the same category.
In short, the Ministry has never claimed that the funds your child’s category generates for the district, are to be assigned to your child. They are to be pooled at the district level with some students getting a bit more and others a bit less, depending on their identified needs which is determined by the school district.
At the beginning of a new school year, with hundreds of students with Special Needs in need of immediate support, the district has to come up with some way of distributing the resources they have (EA time, Speech/Language, etc.) to students who need them. There is no time to evaluate the individual level of support needed for each student based on their unique needs at this point.
Typically, and especially in large districts, a district will employ some system to determine what services automatically go where at the beginning of the year based on designations…and from there, the tweaking begins with some students requiring more and others less support.
This automation of the service distribution causes many educators and parents to believe that students in certain categories are mandated to receive certain kinds and levels of service. It just isn’t true no matter who tells you that.
It’s just an in-house system that approximates needs by category and responds with distributing roughly what they think the service level needs will be. Districts take into account the data they have collected from previous years, based on student populations at the school level – how many students with Special Needs were enrolled the previous year, and how many have moved up a level. They may also factor in that some schools will have a higher incidence of students with Special Needs than others, and account for that in their initial distribution.
After the initial distribution, districts know that some tweaking will still need to occur to ensure those students who need more than was allocated will receive additional support. So districts will hold back a pool of EA time (and other services) for this reason. After a few weeks, parents and/or educators may see that the supports that were automatically generated are insufficient to support a particular student. Typically, the principal applies to the department of Student Services requesting additional EA time, explaining the need – usually around the end of October.
The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what category your child is designated in.
The services they receive, and the intensity or level of service they get, must be based on each student’s unique individual needs…not on an automated service delivery system.
It’s the law of the land (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, BC Human Rights Act – upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada) and no public service like public education can write a policy that changes that fact.
- Cathie Camley