Liberal school closures will hurt Ontario’s most vulnerable students: NDP

Today, London-Fanshawe NDP MPP Teresa Armstrong was joined by students, parents and advocates in calling on the government to ensure that specialized (provincial and demonstration) schools that support Deaf, blind, deafblind, and/or severely learning disabled students in Ontario will remain open and that the application process for next year will be unfrozen.

“These schools are spaces where kids with exceptional needs receive the supports they need to learn and thrive,” stated Armstrong. “Today, we were joined by parents who saw their children’s reading comprehension increase five grade levels since attending a specialized school and those that can attest to their child’s excitement after being immersed in an ASL environment. Before finding these schools, they tried everything and exhausted all other alternatives. These schools are the last glimmer of hope for so many in similar situations”. 

Consultations are currently taking place at all three Anglophone demonstration schools for students with severe learning disabilities, as well as Robarts School for the Deaf (London) and Centre Jules-Léger (Ottawa) Provincial and Demonstration school. 

“During the consultation process, applications for next year are frozen,” stated Armstrong. “Teachers now face an uncertain future, and many have no choice but to return to their home schoolboards. Dedicated education support staff fear that they will be out of a job. Current and prospective students whose families have poured thousands of dollars and hours of their time into preparing their applications feel abandoned.”

The deadline for written submissions is April 8, 2016.

“The government refuses to clarify whether or not schools will close,” stated Armstrong. “The closure of these schools will leave students and families with nowhere else to turn. New Democrats, parents and advocates call on this government to unfreeze applications for next year and commit to keeping these specialized schools open.”