Ontario parent calls potential closure of special needs schools 'very difficult'
Province refuses to rule out shuttering of 4 specialized learning centres
Ontario parents of children with learning disabilities went to Queen's Park Thursday in an attempt to pressure the province to keep four demonstration schools open for students with special needs.
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Last Friday, CBC News reported the province was not ruling out a closure of the specialized schools. Now, parents of students enrolled in the institutions say they are concerned for the future of their children.
"It's very difficult because we've always had a plan for her and now there's nothing to tell her for what we have for next year," Ian MacLean of Peterborough, Ont., said of his 12-year-old daughter who attends one of the schools.
It truly boggles the mind to think that this government is considering closing these programs, leaving our most vulnerable kids behind.- NDP MPP Teresa Armstrong
"The program was developed for 30 years, so I don't know how they're going to replace that by September."
Stephanie Reid, the mother of a 10-year-old boy who is also from Peterborough, told CBC News her son needs the help currently being provided by the province.
"He struggles greatly with reading. He can't read," she said of her son who is also enrolled at one of the institutes.
"Numerous amounts of resources that the public school system can give him aren't helping whatsoever."
Reid said she told officials that her son "will not be relying on society to support him later in life."
Thousands struggling, Sandals says
On Thursday, Education Minister Liz Sandals responded to questions put forward by New Democratic Party MPP Teresa Armstrong about the potential closure of the schools.
"The minister of education herself continually stands in the House and talks about how great provincial and demonstration schools are for our communities: the important role they play and the life-changing experience students are able to have," said Armstrong, who represents the riding of London-Fanshawe.
The education minister did not say whether the specialty schools would remain open.
"The four demonstration schools serve about 155 children right now," Sandals replied in the Ontario Legislature.
"We know that there are thousands of children in Ontario who are struggling to learn to read, and we want to make sure that we can learn from the programs in the demonstration schools."
The premier did not comment on the matter despite calls for her to do so.
With files from Mike Crawley