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Education and Employment

Disability Advocates Act United

At a news conference in Toronto Canada at the end of January, disability advocates have united to demand that the government of Ontario rein in the sweeping power of school principals to exclude a student from school. The Government has so far announced nothing on this. It hasn’t answered the Ontario Autism Coalition’s letter to Education Minister Lisa Thompson, which asks the minister to meet about exclusions. It hasn’t publicly responded to recent media focusing on this issue.

“School principals have a sweeping, unmonitored discretion to exclude students from school. It’s an especially unfair barrier for students with disabilities, who are too often forced to stay home because the school is failing to provide appropriate supports,” said Laura Kirby McIntosh, President of the Ontario Autism Coalition, a non-profit political advocacy group for people with autism and their families. The principal just has to think that the student “would in the principal’s judgment be detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of the pupils;”

In over 5,000 Ontario schools, each principal is allowed to be a law unto themselves. They are not required to keep track of how many students they exclude, or for how long, or for what reason, or to report this information to anyone.

Source: Globe and Mail