(Update) Increasing incidents of special needs students being told to stay home due to shortages

Parents of special needs students in the Greater Victoria School District say their children are being told to stay home more and more often due to a shortage of educational assistants.

They argue the practise is robbing their kids of their education.

Speaking on CFAX 1070 this morning, Education Minister Rob Fleming says the government has worked to support the hiring of thousands of teachers, including specialist teachers -- and hearing this is a concern:

"That's a huge concern if that is happening frequently. And I think districts need to inform the ministry if that is something that is happening over only the rarest of exceptions. There's a thousand additional educational assistants in the system than there were just 2 school years ago. Our government has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in new learning resources to help kids with special needs and all kids -- so it would be a real concern to me if this were happening on a basis on anything but the very rarest of exceptions."

Fleming says kids are supposed to be in school during school hours, and the system is set up to help each and every child no matter what their needs are.

Ever since the 2016 Supreme Court decision restoring contract language regarding class size and composition to teachers, there are more classrooms to staff.  SD61 -- and other school districts -- have struggled to hire and retain EAs.

CUPE 947 -- the union representing educational assistants -- says most EAs make only about $25 an hour, and have to take on another job to make ends meet, which makes recruitment more difficult.


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