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TDSB cuts program that supports kindergarten students with special needs

Toronto District School board file photo.
Toronto District School board file photo. File Photo / Global News

Global News has learned the Toronto District School Board will be cutting a program designed for kindergarten students with special needs that may exhibit violent behavior.

The Kindergarten Intervention Program (KIP) will be closing in June 2020. The eight programs currently serve students enrolled in junior and senior kindergarten.

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Students currently in the program will return to home schools or regular classrooms. The students have been identified as individuals needing extra support and are generally admitted to the KIP program because they exhibit unsafe behavior.

An email obtained by Global News sent by the TDSB to staff Monday said the board is moving to an ‘inclusion’ model where students learn with their peers.“

“The Kindergarten program reflects the belief that four- and five-year-olds are capable and competent learners, full of potential and ready to take ownership of their learning. It approaches children as unique individuals who live and learn within families and communities,” the email continued.

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“Cancelling this program abandons little ones that obviously need early intervention. It’s scary for parents of those little ones, and for everyone else in the classroom that won’t have the supports to help these kids,” said Ontario NDP education critic Marit Stiles in response to the report. “Doug Ford needs to immediately reverse his cuts to our classrooms.”

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A kindergarten teacher with the TDSB not authorized to speak publicly told Global News Tuesday, “These kids are moving from a program where they have been supported by two adults at a ratio of 2:5, to a classroom ratio of 2:30.

“It leaves teachers wondering if additional supports will be provided.”

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The teacher also expressed concern for the safety of other students saying, “Kids in KIP often exhibit behaviors that are either self-injurious or injurious to their classmates.”

Global News has reached out to the TDSB for comment but did not hear back by time of publication.