by Nicole Kaler

Today, BCEdAccess is releasing the interim report:

I want to share my experience about how my daughter was subjected to discrimination, and discuss how retaliation affects advocacy.

“We had already discussed and agreed on the plan, so I was frustrated by the 3rd time I asked for follow-through on part of the IEP. I sent yet another email, including the whole school team, that sounded like this: 

Hi staff member. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding because you are not doing what you agreed to and what my child needs. Respectfully 

Next morning when we arrived at school we were greeted with an eye roll. I took a deep breath and had a pretend internal conversation with this staff member:

 “Ok. We are not friends. Got it. I can’t care about much beyond taking care of my child anyways. Please just do your job. Thank you.” 

The pretend exchange was all I needed to go home relaxed and excited for the day that my daughter was going to have. She was very happy to arrive and see her Education Assistant (EA), who she had a great relationship with. She deserved a good day and we were moving forward. 

At pick up she was miserable. The notes from the school confirmed that she struggled most of the day. In confidence I was told that the EA had been sent to the office to photocopy materials several times, leaving my daughter in the classroom. That triggered a series of problems that compounded throughout the day.

I sent another email:

Hi. Just a reminder that as per every psych ed/professional assessment provided and as mutually agreed, M requires close supervision, thank you (with a smiley face). 

And so it began. Everytime I forced my hand on one issue we lost ground on something else. The cause and effect were subtle and it messed with me badly. I was transformed from an informed advocate with a clear plan to meet goals, to an unwilling participant in a balancing act of adult emotional tolerance. I went forming partnerships to help the school take the best care of my child possible, to strategizing compromises to bank wiggle room for requests. 

I am not naive. I know there are consequences to disrupting well established discriminatory practices. People don’t like having their authority challenged and retaliation is the tool of oppression. But I also knew about the experiences of other families: harassment, threats of being reported to MCFD, children restrained and locked in rooms. None of that ever happened to us, so who am I to talk about the stress and reality of retaliation?

This new report from the Exclusion Tracker reminded me that we cannot underestimate the power of microaggressions to control our behaviour and willingness to advocate. I encourage parents to read this report and never trivialise any action/experience that makes you compromise your goals for your child or youth because “it could be worse” or “at least they are not (insert one of the horrible things that happen to others)”.

Most of all please continue to use the Exclusion Tracker so that we can bring attention to the experiences that deny our children an education.”

Report the exclusion of your child/youth here:

Exclusion Tracker Survey

8 thoughts on “Discrimination by the Numbers – A BCEdAccess Exclusion Tracker Report”

  1. Hi. As a teacher in the school system who works with children with special needs I empathize with students who do not get enough support. I suggest approaching School Districts and politicians as a group reminding them that skrimping on supports will come back to bite. It will cause these students to require more supports as they age or to possibly drop out of school or worse! We in the schools have little power and are dictated to from above. We have no direct control on hiring EAs even if psychoeds and assessments are completed and suggest EA support. . I suggest approaching it as a potential problem that will affect your children’s ability to graduate from high school. Schools are all terrified of graduation rates at the moment. If a child drops out because they were not supported when they needed it, this can be traced. Early intervention is key, as we all know. I bet there are parents out there who had children with late diagnosis. A late diagnosis means a child likely went years without support. Early support is key and horribly lacking in schools.
    I am actually not allowed to post about this on public media. However I am tired of always being the one to do so much work to prove students’ need then to be told “no”, have to deliver the bad news and deal with consequences. Please don’t publish my Facebook details for fear of reprisals.

    1. No details are published on this page, don’t worry! I appreciate you taking the time to post because we know that the system creates this. Your advice is solid and I am glad that graduation rates are being taken seriously but I wish that assessing the success of the system for different students happened much earlier.

    2. As a teacher-parent myself, we cannot shift blame. As teachers, we do hold power to implement the IEP and advocate for Ss to some extent. I found many teachers unfamiliar with the intention of the IEP because they don’t write them – the Special Ed teacher writes them. We cannot use EAs to photocopy – we can request parent volunteers for that. In our experience, EAs in the system will only follow direct instructions from the classroom teacher – they are too afraid to speak up, and if they do, they will back up any ‘truth’. Ss on an IEP are labelled to apply for greater funding – when asked to qualify the label, we received white fragility tears. I have spoken to superintendents at the Surrey school district and the systemic ideology was very apparent. They don’t see the problem – I was told I should just homeschool. The very definition of an oppressive system is well rooted in BC schools, especially in Surrey and so we moved out and have experienced a completely different mindset in another province.

  2. Two years ago I withdrew my autistic children from school after one of them had been left sitting in his fecal matter all day on various occasions then suddenly had his EA removed from him (the only EA trained in toileting) without notice and ignoring his IEP. Since then I have been attending college to obtain the education needed to be an EA. I’ve now applied to over 15 positions without consideration, no references have been contacted and I’ve not been invited for an interview and the district has now emailed me stating they will not engage with me, that they hire based on resume, work experience, references, perceived fit with the organization and belief the applicant can be successful. They’ve hired the school bus driver with zero education working with nuerodiverse children over me. This is retaliation and punishment for advocating for my child who was not receiving proper supports.

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