B.C. school district discriminated against dyslexic boy: Supreme Court
Published Friday, November 9, 2012 12:51PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 9, 2012 10:38PM EST
A British Columbia father has scored a major victory for learning-disabled children across Canada.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday that a public school district in B.C. discriminated against his dyslexic son by failing to take adequate steps to teach him to read.
The B.C. Teachers Federation said the Moore family's fight for their son is a victory for all children who aren't getting the help they need in public schools across the country, reported the Canadian Press.
Rick Moore, who began his legal battle for his son more than 15 years ago, said his family was thrilled with the decision and believes it will have a profound impact around the province and across the country.
“Well, let’s hope it leads to change,” he said. “For once we have a decision that cannot be appealed.”
At age eight, Jeffrey Moore was diagnosed with dyslexia and his teachers’ referred him to a special diagnostic centre, but before he could attend, the centre's funding was pulled.
“I did not know what is going on,” Jeff said. “I just had a really hard time.”
In response, the family remortgaged their home to pay for a private school catering to learning disabilities. They also launched a human rights complaint alleging that the school discriminated against Jeff by failing to help him.
Don McRae, B.C.'s education minister, said in a statement the province is reviewing the ruling.
"We are pleased the court did not find that the government or the Ministry of Education discriminated against Mr. Moore,” he said.
“The case brought forward by Mr. Moore dates back to the 1990s, and since then, B.C.'s education system has changed significantly, including many improvements to services and supports available for students with special needs."
McRae also said the province is now providing record levels of funding for students with special needs and this year, it's estimated more than $860 million will go to support them.
"Overall, students with special needs today have a wider variety of supports, funding and services available to them," he said.
Yude Henteloff was one of the many lawyers who worked on the Moore case. He says the decision sets a national precedent.
“It is the first time the court, in such a substantive way, addressed the issue of meaningful access, and that it sends a strong message to all public schools in Canada,” he said.
“They can no longer say special need children are second class citizens and that when it comes to cutbacks they have to take the brunt of it.”
With files from The Canadian Press