Community Living Ontario

For Immediate Release
February 7, 2018

Ontario’s Education System is Failing Students with Disabilities Research partnership finds systemic barriers to inclusive classrooms persist

Toronto, ON – As part of February's National Inclusive Education Month, a research partnership involving Community Living Ontario, University of Western Ontario, Brock University, ARCH Disability Law Centre, Brockville and District Association for Community Involvement, and Inclusive Education Canada is releasing some of the preliminary results of a research study recently undertaken to, among other things, assess the effectiveness of Ontario’s education system for students with disabilities. Approximately 300 parents of children with disabilities from across the province were surveyed as part of If inclusion means everyone, why not ME? The survey results found that students with disabilities still experience inordinate barriers to accessing a meaningful academic and social engagement in this province. As a follow up to the survey data, 33 parents agreed to participate in in-depth interviews that allowed researchers to add greater context to the reported statistical data.The results show that Ontario’s commitment to equality, inclusion and full access to students with disabilities remains far from realized.

Exclusion from School

On many occasions children with disabilities experience educational barriers so significant that they are unable to attend school. 45% of parents reported they have had to keep their child home as a result of a lack of accommodations and/or services. Even more troubling, 11% of them reported that their child had been expelled from school for disability-related reasons and 23% of these parents reported that their child had been suspended for disability-related reasons. This is in keeping with statistics released by the Ministry of Education in 2015-2016, which reported that 46.9% of all suspensions and 48.4% of all expulsions involved a student with a disability.

Furthermore, in many cases children are excluded from school outside of the normal suspension/expulsion process; 25% of parents surveyed reported that they had simply been told not to bring their child to school. Parent narratives highlighted the additional hardships that these types of exclusion decisions exerted on families and students. 

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