March 4th, 2018

Students with diverse needs need legislative protections in Bill 72

HALIFAX – The Liberal’s Education Reform Act appears to remove important protections for student inclusion in the classroom. Bill 72 repeals Section 64.2.d. which required school boards to implement educational programs for students with special needs in regular instructional settings with their peers.

“For weeks now, education stakeholders have been raising the alarm about the Liberal government’s hasty implementation of sweeping reforms to our education system, especially given the coming report from the Commission on Inclusive Education later this month,” said NDP Education Spokesperson Claudia Chender. “Given the negative impact this could have on disabled students and students with diverse needs, the complete lack of consultations with families, and the failure to publicize this important change, Bill 72 should not move forward without provisions to protect inclusive classrooms.”

Under Bill 72 the only references to special education in public education are to allow the Minister power to make regulations that establish a provincial policy on special-education programming and services and create an appeals process if there was a disagreement between a regional centre and a parent about individual programs for a child with special needs.

“This change represents a significant roll back of the fundamental human rights of all children with disabilities,” said Cynthia Bruce, a blind activist and an instructor in the Faculty of Education at Acadia University. “It is unacceptable to strip these rights from legislation and relegate them to policy and ministerial regulation.”

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