Irene Lanzinger, BC Teachers’ Federation president, has expressed the support of BC teachers for Rick Moore’s appeal to the BC Court of Appeals. Mr. Moore’s complaint alleges that the school district of North Vancouver and the Ministry of Education discriminated against students with severe learning disabilities when they failed to provide proper accommodation for his son, Jeff.
In the early ‘90s while in Grade 2, Jeff Moore was diagnosed with a learning disability. The school psychologist recommended he receive support in the district’s Diagnostic Centre. However shortly before he was to begin there, the school district closed the Diagnostic Centre as a cost-cutting measure. Mr. Moore was forced to enrol his son into a private school which could provide the support Jeff required.
Mr. Moore filed a human rights complaint against the district and the ministry. The BC Human Rights Tribunal found in their favour. However in early March 2008, their decision was overturned by the BC Supreme Court. The Supreme Court concluded that as long as those suffering a different or more severe type of disability did not receive a similar benefit or specialized program, there was no discrimination against Jeff Moore.
“We were very disappointed with the decision of the Supreme Court. This case is a real setback for all students with special needs,” says Lanzinger. “Imagine the Supreme Court deciding that it is okay to discriminate against students with learning disabilities so long as all students with learning disabilities are discriminated against in the same way.”
Since 2001, BC schools have lost over 600 special-education teachers and over 10,000 classes have four or more students with special education needs. In addition, 3,179 classes have more than 30 students enrolled.
“Many students with special needs in our schools today are struggling without the support they deserve,” says Lanzinger. “This situation for students with special needs is proof that the education minister’s mantra about providing the highest funding ever for BC schools is false.”