‘That shouldn’t be happening’: B.C. education minister responds to special needs complaints

$325 million in special needs funding for B.C. students left unspent
WATCH: B.C.'s education minister reacts to how hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for kids with special needs is being spent, or not spent, by B.C. school districts. Catherine Urquhart reports.

B.C.’s education minister is responding to parents of special needs children, who are questioning how their children’s education funds are being spent

B.C. spends hundreds of millions of dollars on special needs education every year, but some parents say it’s not being used properly.

READ MORE: In B.C., special needs kids are accessing school as little as 1.5 hours, 2 days a week

On Thursday parents of four kids spoke to Global News about what they say is a lack of support for their children at Grenfell Elementary, including little or no help from an education assistant.

Among them were Romer and Doreen Bote, whose daughter Christella has Down syndrome.

B.C. special needs funding formula.
B.C. special needs funding formula.

“She has a severe loss of hearing, the right ear doesn’t hear at all. And the left one is moderate to severe,” said Romer.

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“We told the school that we felt she was being isolated, and this was not the first incident.”

Later on Thursday, while getting exterior shots of the school, Global News saw Christella alone and and sobbing outside.

WATCH: Parents of special needs students claim children not getting the help they need

Parents of special needs students claim children not getting the help they need
Parents of special needs students claim children not getting the help they need

Christella’s parents believe funding for special needs kids is not being distributed or used properly.

“They don’t allocate the money enough for the people that need to have that money to be spent the right way, especially for the kids that need help,” said Romer.

On Thursday, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) issued a statement saying that safety is always its first priority.

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READ MORE: The B.C. Teachers Federation is concerned the teacher shortage is affecting special needs students

“We work with families on an individual basis, to plan and support students with diverse learning needs.”

On Friday, the VSB did not respond to questions.

When told about some of the children getting no services, B.C.’s education education minister, Rob Fleming, told Global News the situation wasn’t right.

“That shouldn’t be happening,” he said.

“The funding does come provincially and districts make decisions that should always be in consultation with parents and teaching with staff and administrators at school.”

Next year the B.C. government will introduce a new education funding model. Christella’s parents are urging more accountability in how those funds will be spent.