It is important that parents know about important legal precedents and know what rights they and their children have in the school system.
The Hewko case has a major bearing on the quality of education for our children. The BC Supreme Court ruled that the Abbotsford School District breached its statutory duty to meaningfully consult with a student’s parents regarding the education of their child with autism. As a result of Hewko, there are three main parent/child rights:
- The right to consult. This means that the parents can not simply be “told”, but have a right to participate fully in their child’s education. They also have the right to be consulted prior to an aide being assigned.
- The right to review files. Parents can view all student records (unless it’s a protection/abuse case) and request copies. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy will apply.
- The aide must have “instructional control” over the child. This is not the same as “functional control”. There is a difference between thriving and surviving. Your child needs to be learning in a meaningful way.
For more information about the Hewko case, visit these sites:
This was a very brief overview of the Hewko case. Many school districts are not abiding by the Hewko ruling. The best case scenario would simply be to remind the school district of their obligations. The worst case scenario would involve hiring a lawyer to force them to do what they should have done in the first place. You may find it useful to print a copy of the ruling and have it handy during meetings with the school district.
It’s very important that you document every communication with the school or school district. Every phone call should be logged, noting who you spoke to and the subject. Emails should be saved and copies made of every letter sent or received.
ABA in Schools – What the Autism Support Network does:
- Supporting parents in districts outside of Surrey to access quality ABA support for their children when they enter school. A great deal of advocacy and education is required.
- Working with government and district administration to communicate the needs of children with autism and their families for ongoing support and services when they enter school.
When your child enters school they may qualify for an aide in the classroom. The quality of aides varies dramatically however and some school boards are more progressive than others. Some children may end up with an excellent ABA trained aide who will integrate with the child’s home based program while other aides are at best, well paid babysitters.
In SD#36 (Surrey), a model has been developed where special education assistants can get an ABA designation by completing a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised experience on home based teams plus completing the ABA Support Worker course at Surrey College. An ABA Support Worker becomes child specific and cannot be bumped based on seniority.
A home-school collaboration document exists and the goal is to keep ABA programming consistent between home and school. Click link here.
This document also contains some of the history of how the ABA Support Worker program was developed in Surrey in 2001. As of June 2015, there are about 170 ABA trained support workers in place in the Surrey district with about 20 being added each year. These support workers are recruited through families who have home based ABA teams and hire therapists (BI’s) who are interested in furthering their career in ABA and working in the school system.
Parents across the province are advocating to have similar programs developed in their districts. If you are interested in joining these parents please attend one of the Neighbourhood Network groups in these communities and connect with other parents there and find out how to make it happen. Check our online calendar for dates and locations.
Our ABA in Schools initiative will continue through meetings and presentations. Here are links to our ABA in Schools Workshops. Keep an eye on our calendar for future workshops and presentations about ABA in Schools.