I read Renee Andor’s article “Disabled will be consulted” in the Dec. 12 edition of your paper and just about choked on the hypocrisy.
School District 71’s policy to ban students requiring IEPs (i.e. those requiring wheelchairs or other mobility supports) from their French Immersion program. They are the only school district I know of in this province that actually promotes this policy as an incentive to attract prospective parents.
School District 71 transportation policies require special-needs buses to arrive at school after the regular buses and after the first bells and to depart similarly. These ‘disabled’ students are blatantly excluded from participating in the full day of education the rest of the school population is entitled to and receives.
Placing the Life Skills program on the second floor of the now Queneesh Elementary meant those students requiring mobility supports were even further compromised during an emergency such as an earthquake or fire, as the elevators would be unavailable —their only form of exit would be all those stairs.
I can only hope Mr. McRae’s Jan. 20 forum in Courtenay will not be held in his own backyard and old stomping grounds — Vanier School. There is one handicapped parking stall there.
Typically, the wheelchair insignia is interpreted as being synonymous with preferred parking for SD71 shuttle vehicles and for the RCMP.
If there is an emergency, of course, I can understand RCMP accessing the most convenient parking stall. This is not the case with Vanier.
The Vanier ‘disabled parking stall’ is located at the top of the parking lot hill. The concrete barrier at the back of the stall makes reversing in and unloading a wheelchair or walker impossible.
The only option is to drive in, unload the mobility aid, then try to secure it on the incline. After removing the passenger, the caregiver must not only navigate him/her past the concrete barriers but also past the dog leg that makes the whole exercise even more challenging.
Once completed, if the prospect of bouncing the wheelchair and occupant up the steps is too daunting, there is the option of pushing them up the hill and accessing the side door.
I find the above policies only continue to make it more challenging for those already most challenged. Over the past 18 years, School District 71 administration and staff and MCF Courtenay have made it clear to me they find the above insignificant. I feel they meet the criteria for discrimination.
I also do not believe it is a matter of ‘do more with less.’ I believe the reality is a more a matter of just acknowledge and ‘do.’
Most taxpayers work extremely hard for their ‘contribution’. It seems such a waste to spend it on hype and propaganda rather than tangible, beneficial actions.
I can hardly wait for Mr. McRae’s next project — maybe something like the Success of B.C. Government Policy and Residential Schools in the early 1900s — the social and economic benefits outweigh the damages.
Perhaps we could consider cutting to the chase, saving time and money and calling a spade a spade?