Special needs students falling through the cracks of education system: Human Rights Commission

The Quebec Human Rights Commission is sounding the alarm over the lack of support and services in the education system for special needs students, whose numbers have doubled over the past 20 years, with 40% of them dropping out of high school.

The commission presented its 172-page report covering 2001- 2016 and five school boards.

The report suggested the 200,000 students with learning, linguistic, developmental and physical disabilities are falling through the cracks.

Québec Human Rights Commission sounding the alarm about services for special needs kids in the education system - number of such students has doubled over the past 20 years (200,000) & services have not kept up with demand, 40% of them dropping out of high school. #CJAD pic.twitter.com/eItBsvZg2f

— Shuyee Lee (@sleeCJAD) June 6, 2018

Researchers found that 40% of such students dropped out of high school, compared to 8.7% of students with no such disabilities.

And while student enrolment during that period fell by 9%, the number of special needs students rose by nearly 72%, the increase more significant in the English school boards and the boards covering metropolitain Montreal. 

The report said education programs have expanded and become more enriched but they have not been adapted for special needs children; services have also not kept up with demand or haven't been revised in the past 20 years. Children are being incorrectly evaluated and there is no proper follow-up.

The commission said the one-size-fits-all approach isn't working and neither is cramming special needs students into regular classes when they need more support and individualized attention, something prescribed by law.

President of the Quebec Human Rights Commission Philippe-André Tessier says their report covering 2001-2016 shows lack of individualized services and support for special needs students and existing services have not been updated in the past 20 years. #CJAD pic.twitter.com/GPrxd37bph

— Shuyee Lee (@sleeCJAD) June 6, 2018

The report also notes that school staff are overwhelmed and exhausted trying to provide services for special needs students.

The report makes 22 recommendations including creating a minimum level of services for special needs students. The commission said that while they'd like to see the hiring of more specialists such as speech therapists, psychologists and social workers, the government and school boards could reorganize existing services without necessarily spending more money.

The report was prompted by an increase of complaints for discrimination against special needs students - 408 cases were opened between 2000 - 2014, a 27% increase over the past 40 years.

President of the Quebec Human Rights Commission Philippe-André Tessier says their report covering 2001-2016 shows lack of individualized services and support for special needs students and existing services have not been updated in the past 20 years. #CJAD pic.twitter.com/tH4hniphs1

— Shuyee Lee (@sleeCJAD) June 6, 2018