Surrey School District building. (File photo)

Teachers’ union says Surrey is ‘sacrificing’ services for special-needs students

School district maintains learning and support continues during audit

The Surrey Teachers Association says services to students with serious and complex special needs are being put on the backburner this month as the school district focuses on a ministry audit of those services.

Describing the move as “very troubling,” STA president Matt Westphal said a grievance was filed last month in an attempt to quash the practice, citing concerns including that “the resulting denial of services to students with designations is discriminatory, and makes our members complicit in that discrimination.”

“We do not take issue with the need for an audit, or with the importance of passing the audit. But we vehemently disagree that services to students should be sacrificed for a month in the name of the audit,” Westphal told Peace Arch News by email.

School district spokesman Doug Strachan said Wednesday that it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the grievance, citing respect for the process.

But he did dispute the assertion that the audit was impacting students.

“We believe student learning and support properly continues while the audit work is being done,” he told PAN.

Strachan described the audit as “one of several that are routinely done by the Ministry of Education every year of different districts.”

“This year, our district is in the audit.”

Westphal said a lack of funding and clerical support means staff including integration support teachers, school counsellors and school psychologists are “being taken away from their actual work for students” to focus on the audit. It’s taking place while individual education plans for students are still in process, he added.

Practices under scrutiny, Westphal said, include such “clerical” elements as whether files have salmon-coloured dividers.

He said examples of consequences for students include one school where students will have no learner-support-team services until January; and counsellors being unavailable to see students except in emergencies.

Strachan said the audit is “to ensure students are getting the services they need and that these services have been properly documented.”

“This is not clerical work; this is the core work of support teachers,” he said. “It is the work they do every day.”

Westphal said Wednesday afternoon that the union has yet to receive an official response to the grievance.

Just Posted

Surrey firefighters not among 267 being sent to battle Alberta wildfires

‘We haven’t been called upon to be deployed,’ Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis told the Now-Leader on Tuesday

Surrey man charged with impersonating cop in Newton

Harmit Johal, 42, is charged with one count of impersonating a peace officer and two counts of fraud

Man pleads guilty to Surrey crash that killed two Abbotsford women

Sarah Dhillon and Paige Nagata died following head-on collision on Nov. 4, 2018

Mother of accused charged in connection to Surrey teen’s murder

Manjit Kaur Deo charged with ‘accessory after the fact’ in 2017 death of Bhavkiran Dhesi

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Fraser Valley chef sentenced to seven years for million-dollar drug operation

Raymon Ranu has been working as a cook since he was arrested for selling fentanyl and cocaine

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

Most Read

l -->