An advocacy group is calling on the B.C. government to address gaps in the public school system after an online survey revealed more than half of polled parents have removed their special needs children from school because their needs aren't being met.
Speaking for BC Parents of Special Needs Children, spokeswoman Karen Copeland said the group polled 236 of its members in February, asking whether they have pulled their children out of public school, or are considering it, and why.
About 51 percent of those polled said they had removed their children, she said. Thirty-one per cent of those that had removed their children said they were forced to do so, while 18 per cent said they did it by choice.
"For 31 per cent of those families, they felt like they didn't have a choice," Copeland told Daybreak North.
"Their child might have been sent home early from school regularly; they were losing their jobs, that kind of thing, because their child could not be supported in public schools, so they felt they had no other choice."
Lack of adequate support
According to the survey, many parents identified inadequate levels of educational assistants, no access to specialized services and not following individualized education plans as areas where adequate support was lacking.
Copeland says a number of respondents also said they would like to pull their children out of public school, but they can't because of financial concerns.
"They're single parents. What are they do if they pull their child from school?" she said.
Copeland said a letter was sent to Education Minister Peter Fassbender earlier this week, and a meeting with the deputy Education Minister is now being arranged.
"The intention [of the survey] was to give our members a platform to share their experiences and give credence to a serious issue that requires a response from the Ministry of Education," she said.
To hear the full interview with Karen Copeland, listen to the audio labelled: Survey shows children with special needs leaving public school school system