Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Family moves to get help for student

River East comes through with special needs funds

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SHELLEY Boychuk sold her house and moved to the far side of Gordon Sinclair Jr.Winnipeg to get her special needs son Evan the help he needed in school.

Boychuk says St. James-Assiniboia School Division would not provide Evan with an aide and occupational therapy when he was in kindergarten and Grade 1 at Ecole Bannatyne.

The division suggested Evan might get more help if he switched to Strathmillan School, where SJA clusters special needs students, Boychuk said.

Instead, she moved last summer to Transcona.

Not only did River East Transcona School Division immediately classify Evan as a Level-2 special needs student for Grade 2, with the services of a classroom aide and time with an occupational therapist, but has already approved the same help through Grade 3 this coming year and Grade 4 the next year, she said.

"Magically, when we re-located to a different school division in the city, the funding is in place and he has received it for the next two school years. Sad that we had to move out of a nice neighbourhood, just so our son could have a chance at a fair education," Boychuk said.

A spokeswoman said that St. James-Assiniboia staff who dealt with Evan's situation will not be returning to work until Aug. 27. Only then, she said, will the division decide if it will comment.

Special needs students are classified into three levels, after an assessment each spring. That assessment determines what professional services a student will receive, whether the child will get any help from a teacher's aide, and how many special needs kids can be accommodated in each class.

"I felt defeated. I didn't want to keep fighting," even though Evan was happy at Bannatyne, Boychuk said.

"He has learning challenges, he has medical needs. Evan has non-verbal learning disability.

"He suffers from sensory dysfunction, he suffers seizures, he's borderline ADD (attention deficit disorder)," and his physical development is delayed, she said.

Boychuk said that the Bannatyne principal and teachers went above and beyond to watch out for Evan, but the division would not fund his needs.

"People gave up breaks, they gave up lunch hours" to keep an eye on Evan, she said.

But, she said, St. James-Assiniboia wouldn't budge, unless she considered moving Evan to Strathmillan.

"There's no bending there. It's cut and dried, no discussion," she said. "Each child, whatever their needs are, has to have a fair education."

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 20, 2007 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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