One Royal Bay student may have fallen through the cracks of a system meant to help students, at least that’s what Kim Jordison believes.
She says school staff and administrators failed to properly accommodate her daughter’s needs throughout the most recent school year, making Grade 10 a particularly trying year.
“It was awful. Kids shouldn’t feel like they shouldn’t be on this planet … There were some real depressing moments. It’s been quite scary for me as a parent,” she said.
Jordison’s daughter, whose name wasn’t printed at her mother’s request, has ADHD and difficulty with math, science and comprehension when it comes to solving certain problems.
“It affects all of her subjects,” Jordison said.
She noted that her daughter has always had great support and assistance throughout elementary and middle school, support that comes as a result of her daughter being given an individual education plan (IEP).
IEP’s are given to students that meet a certain set of criteria after being assessed. The school district and the individual school are then responsible for implementing the plan for the student.
For Jordison’s daughter that’s meant shorter tests and less homework in the past. But her plan simply wasn’t implemented this year, her mother said.
“When it gets to high school you have so many teachers … they don’t have a process in place so that each teacher knows that this student, that is travelling from one class to the next, has a designated IEP,” Jordison said.
Jordison said she approached one of her daughter’s teachers in the middle of March, well over a month after the start of the second term, and he said he didn’t know she had an IEP, then later said that he knew she had an IEP but hadn’t gotten a copy of it yet.
“When a child has an IEP or specific ways to learn [teachers] need to get ahold of that and work with that student. They’re supposed to come up with a plan and just knowing is half the battle,” she said.
A request for comment from Royal Bay secondary was forwarded to David Strange, assistant superintendent with the Sooke School District, who Jordison has spoken with regarding her concerns.
Strange said plans are developed by special education staff based on their training and advice provided by the school board and that the responsibility at the school level is to have that information passed on to classroom teachers that are working with that child.
“That can be done through a variety of means. It can be shared electronically, it can be shared with the classroom teacher in a hard copy through a file at the school office,” he said. IEPs are updated and reassessed on an annual basis, he added.
Strange wouldn’t comment on specifics relating to Jordison’s complaint, but said that while breakdowns do happen from time to time, complaints are rare.
“Our expectation is that people are following our processes and doing that but we can’t assume that processes are perfect,” he said. “Systems are imperfect and [fixing them] is part of the job of the school staff and the school administration.”
The district will revisit its communication processes and protocols leading into next year, “just to make sure that we haven’t missed something,” Strange said. “I think we have a solid process in place but if there’s an instance where it’s gone awry or hasn’t been perfect then we just want to revisit our communication plan.”
Jordison hopes that being vocal about her daughter’s issues might open other parents’ eyes to their children’s struggles, noting that teens don’t always communicate with their parents.
She added she’s hopeful that the situation can be improved going forward in order to allow her daughter to have a better year in Grade 11.