Nova Scotia

Dad says work-to-rule leaves sons with ADHD in a lurch

The father of two children with learning disabilities says his sons are falling behind academically as a result of the ongoing contract dispute between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the province.

NSTU president says student needs being met, even if things done differently under job action

David Parks says his children require school staff to meet with their psychologist before they can be accommodated — and that can't happen under work-to-rule. (David Parks)

The father of two children with learning disabilities says his sons are falling behind academically as a result of the ongoing contract dispute between the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and the province.

The president of the union says that's not the case, however, and students are getting the attention they require, even if some things are being done differently.

Nova Scotia teachers have been following a work-to-rule order since the first week of December, which means they arrive 20 minutes before classes begin and leave 20 minutes after they end. 

David Parks said before the needs of his children, aged nine and 11, can be met, school staff must sit down with their psychologist. But that can't happen under work-to-rule.

"It's just very frustrating to be caught in the middle of it," said Parks, who asked that his children not be named.

Adaptations required

Parks's children have both been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, he said. His older child also has a learning disability similar to dyslexia.

Both have been assessed by a psychologist paid for by the family. They have started medical treatment, and now require some adaptations in the classroom, their father said.

Those changes can't happen until the psychologist who did the assessments has a meeting with the boys' current and former teachers, Parks said, as well as administrators at St. Joseph's-Alexander McKay Elementary in Halifax.

'It's a shame'

Those meetings typically last 90 minutes or more, he said, so finding time during regular school hours — and providing substitutes for all the teachers who need to attend — is not feasible under work-to-rule.

"It's a shame. Every day that we can't have this meeting ... is a day that is lost," he said. "They're definitely not moving forward."

The president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, Liette Doucet, said meetings with psychologists can still happen during work-to-rule, but they would involve fewer people. (CBC)

Union responds

The president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, Liette Doucet, said she doesn't know enough about the particulars of Parks's case to comment on why the meeting hasn't happened yet.

Meetings with psychologists can still happen during work-to-rule, she said, but involve fewer people in order to work within regular school hours and without requiring too many substitute teachers.

"I don't believe the size of the meeting would impact that student at all," Doucet said. "Just because something is done differently, doesn't mean it's not being done properly."

Reassurances

Doucet said when the meeting does happen, even if it involves fewer people, it would still be effective. "I think that parent could be assured fairly easily that the best is being done for their child."

A spokesman for the Halifax Regional School Board, Doug Hadley, said in an email he is "confident the staff at St. Joseph's-A. McKay is working closely with families to ensure appropriate programming is in place for all students."

With files from the CBC's Information Morning

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