March 4, 2016 7:23 pm

N.B. teachers’ association calls for review of province’s inclusion policy

WATCH ABOVE: The New Brunswick Teachers' Association President says a review of the inclusion policy is desperately needed. Jeremy Keefe reports.


The president of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association says a review of the province’s inclusion policy is desperately needed.

Guy Arsenault says there is “serious need for clarification” of policy 322, which guarantees a student’s right to education, regardless of physical or mental disabilities. in a classroom with their peers.

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He says the policy can be difficult to apply properly when its effects can counteract other government education policies.

“A major concern is the conflicts that exist between [policy 322] and [Education and Early Childhood Development] policy 703,” Arsenault said in a statement posted to the teachers’ association Facebook page. “The latter guarantees a positive learning environment for all students, but there are many instances where this is being compromised.”

Arsenault said individual students can disrupt the learning experience of other students, and it’s what prompted him to speak on the issue.

Harold Doherty, whose son has autism, says the concerns are nothing new, and he has made his frustrations with the policy clear.

“The big problem with the total inclusion policy is that…it increases the risk that there will be more outbursts or meltdowns or aggressions,” he said.

“It’s a simplistic philosophy that says that the classroom solves all problems.”

Doherty, a lawyer by profession, recently wrote a letter to Arsenault after finding out about his comments. He points to a lack of successes in his call to change the policy.

“They don’t examine the evidence of what works with students with those conditions,” he said. “And they don’t examine the evidence of what triggers or is likely to trigger someone with problematic behaviour.”

Last year, Tiffany Boudreau’s son Xander was removed from classrooms for being disruptive.

Xander suffers from learning disabilities and Boudreau, who has since relocated to Ontario, says he wasn’t being given the opportunities he needed.

“They didn’t really work with him or work with me,” she said. “They knew all his triggers but they… didn’t quite listen to what the triggers were that would cause the behaviours that they didn’t want.”

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Serge Rousselle issued a comment on Friday that “ensuring each student in New Brunswick receives an education that meets his or her needs is a commitment of our government.”

He said to assist students, the province “must seek to provide safe, inclusive and affirm learning environments.”

Rouselle added that a response to the teachers’ association would be forthcoming in the near future.

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