Equality in the classroom: The educational placement of children with disabilities (2007)

Lessons in Learning - May 1, 2007

This paper examines the issue of full inclusion for students with disabilities versus placement in special-education classrooms, with particular reference to an Ontario case that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The authors note that while there is clearly some evidence that special-education placements can be the best option for some students, full inclusion is the preferred option for many parents. The Ontario case centred on a young girl with cerebral palsy who was unable to communicate through speech, sign language, or other systems; was visually impaired; and used a wheelchair. At the request of her parents, she was placed in her neighbourhood school on a trial basis.

After three years, her teachers concluded that she was not benefitting from a mainstream environment. A review committee agreed that she should be placed in a special-education class. Her parents disagreed and appealed the placement at the board, tribunal, and Ontario Divisional Court levels, all of which upheld the decision to place the girl in a special-education class.

The parents took their case to the Ontario Court of Appeal, which ruled in their favour. The Attorney General of Ontario appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which overturned the Appeal Court decision.

The authors of this paper say that the Supreme Court’s reasoning raises a number of points about the placement of students with special needs. They note that the appropriate educational placement of students depends upon the nature and extent of their disabilities; educators are obligated to assess educational progress periodically and take that assessment into account in planning a program that is best for the student; and the educational best interests of children may differ from the preferences of the adults in their lives.

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2013-01-29
APA citation
Canadian Council on Learning (CCL). Equality in the classroom: The educational placement of children with disabilities 2007. Web. 30 Nov. 2020 <http://en.copian.ca/library/research/ccl/lessons_learning/equality_classroom/equality_classroom.pdf>
Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) (2007). Equality in the classroom: The educational placement of children with disabilities. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from http://en.copian.ca/library/research/ccl/lessons_learning/equality_classroom/equality_classroom.pdf
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