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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 07-10-2010, 05:00 PM
Nadia Nadia is offline
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Default Special Needs and Private School

logicalvelocity [I][I]" What were the issues at the hearing..."

The issues at the motion were:

1. Question of the extent to which there is a necessity for a special needs child to be placed in a private school

2. Question of the extent to which such a cost is reasonable requiring both parties to contribute.

Ex earned $107, 000 and I earned $30,000 last year and we were asking him to contribute 75% for the first academic year.

Our daughter is profoundly deaf in her left ear (from birth) and has a progressive hearing loss in her right ear. (She had normal hearing in that ear at birth and now three years later only has half her hearing left in that ear). Also suffers from severe articulation difficulties and is way behind peers in respect to printing and numeracy.

There is no "standard of care" for hearing impaired children in public schools in Ontario. Tried to lobby for legislation a year ago, including moblizing parents across Ontario in a massive letter writing campaign, rally at Queens Park and meetings with ministers. All in the hope that when she attends Grade One in September 2010 services will be in place. But no legislation.

Then tried to work with the public school board. Had several meetings with a number of people. Submitted all her reports etc. Was informed that although it is recognized she needs the additional assistance, the actual level of service will not be determined until September 2010 when Board will know how many deaf kids are in the Board. So level of service is based on demand not need. This can be a big difference for a child, from having access to teacher for the Deaf once a week to once a month or worst case scenariuo twice a year.

Then as a last resort explored the possibility of private schools. Found an excellent school in our neighborhood, that was familiar with working with hearing impaired children. A school which had an excellent curriculum that was multi-sensory combined sign language with listening skills. Small class ratio and also had in-house speech pathologist along with an important one-to one tution that could be provided twice a week.

Ex argued that we could get Speech Pathologist services in the community in addition to enrolling child into an Oxford Learning Program. However, is unwilling to take her to these appointments. I would like to work full time and contribute significantly more towards tuititon and other costs. However have not been able to do that. It is difficult to find a job that is going to pay well and that will allow you to take an morning or afternoon off three times a week so that you can take your child to an appointment.

With our daughter at private school, with in-house services, she wouldn't have to be taken out of the school for these services. I could then work full time, and contribute 50% towards cost, 75% year later and hopefully 100% year after with no request for contribution from Ex thereafter.

The Ex also argued that given his dire financial situation, he simply could not afford it. He lives with his parents (always has) and has an expensive taste in sports cars, and perchant for buying some very expensive rare items on ebay. For example last week he purchased a "badge" for $400. Go figure.

The Judge decided to reserve judgement and adjourned the case to next month. When he is willing to revisit the issues of necessity and reasonableness. He did not find there was enough evidence to suggest all alternatives to the private school had been exhausted or that there was a necessity for it. So, good news he didn't dismiss the motion out of hand but did say we need to provide a stronger argument with supportive materials.

Given that I am now self representing myself. Does anyone have any ideas on what else I can draw attention to in respect to oral argument or evidence?
  #2  
Old 07-10-2010, 05:21 PM
logicalvelocity logicalvelocity is offline
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Nadia,

Because your child is about 3 their future needs will be different than today. At some point not only your child -- but both parents will have to know ASL.

Unfortunately, most Public funded school's just don't have the resources to teach your child ASL and to communicate. I do think you have a very good chance of success in the future. If your child doesn't learn to communicate with some method proficiently - they will be left behind their peers.

Something to keep in mind - how many typically primary or secondary school teachers actually know ASL - I would think very few statistically.

Have you considered contacting the Canadian Hearing Society - They may have expert witness on staff and or other expert information such as when is best age for your child to learn ASL. This may help to convince the court.

I really hope this helps.
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:35 PM
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Nadia I don't have a solution but can provide just a couple of points to keep in mind.

Our daughter is in the gifted program in TDSB. "Gifted" is considered "special needs" and in is included with other children such as hearing impaired, wheelchair, dyslexia, etc etc.

We have had many assessments with psychologists, testing, meetings with school board officials, explanations of funding, classroom deployment, blah blah. Due to some problems with funding and class being moved from school to school over the years, we (her mum, myself and parents of 20 other children in her class) have also been involved with groups of concerned parents and tried to educate ourself and arm ourselves to deal with the school board.

All that is to say, our daughter has a "positive" need, but is in the same situation as any disabled child as far as special needs goes.

I can tell you that it is your absolute right to have your child's provided for by the public school board. The problems you will run into are of course jumping through hoops to get her assessed, and then where the program will be.

As you know they won't assess her until she is in the system. After that, you have a right to have her placed in a special needs program, but you have no control over where that program is, how far away from your home, travel times, other facilities or rec programs provided, etc. If you live in Scarborough (assuming you are in Toronto) then the program could be in Etobicoke due to lack of numbers and you will just have to accept that.

This is the primary issue you will run into with the school board. As well, this year they may have a program a block from your house, next year it is 5 kilometers away and your child is pulled from her friends and other teams or programs or hobbies she has at her old school.

You will run into trouble if you try to show that there is no program available for your child. The law is clear that the school board has to have a space available in a program for your special needs child.

You will have an easier time showing that you may not have a program available nearby, or that the program will stay in the same school, or that your daughter will be able to keep the same friends, etc.

It is board policy that they will not place a child right away in special needs, unless I think if the child is in a wheelchair or some other very obvious need. The will want to have her in a regular class to start, she has to be recommended for testing and placement by her teacher and principal. This is my understanding of the process after all of our years dealing with the board.

As you seem to have already found out, the board will have tons of "research" backing up their stance that they are providing testing and placement and programming when it is actually needed, and they will have tons of "research" to show that it isn't needed until they say it is.

Because of this you may have an uphill battle showing the courts that the public school board cannot serve the needs of a deaf child, when the law clearly states that the school board must do so, and the school board will have limitless documentation to show that they are actually doing that.

I suspect that is why the judge would like to see further proof of need from you. I am not saying you are wrong, but that the school board has stacked the deck in their favour.

You should focus on her needs now, not after some future testing deemed by the school board. You should focus on local availability, which the board cannot guarentee. You should focus on her staying in one school with consistant teaching and classmates she can bond with, while the board cannot guarentee she won't be moved back and forth.
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:36 PM
Nadia Nadia is offline
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Thank you for sharing your own experience Mess and the valuable insight.
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:45 PM
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There is a school in Belleville that specifically deals with hearing impaired. It is a very good school. My Mother and Father both attended this school. The Students stay there all year round and come back for holidays.
Here is the Link, if your child qualifies I am pretty sure there is no admission fee. I am surprised that your home school don't refer you to this school.
Ontario Ministry of Education - Provincial Schools Branch: Sir James Whitney School
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Old 07-10-2010, 05:52 PM
Nadia Nadia is offline
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Hello Logocalvelocity

Sorry for the confusion but our daughter is now five years old and will be entering grade one in September. She began losing her hearing in her (good ear) when she was two.

94% of all deaf or hard of hearing children use oral communication as their main method and attend mainstream schools. As I understand only 4% use American Sign Language alone for communication and attend Schools for the Deaf.

This is large part because of the major techological advances. Our daughter wears a hearing aid and has the use of an FM system. If hearing loss gets worse, we will consider Cochlear Implants, which will allow her to hear close to normal hearing.

But techonology can only go so far. For example, in a noisy large classroom background noise can interfer with her access to speech/conversation. Hence the additional support.
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:35 PM
logicalvelocity logicalvelocity is offline
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Thank You for that information. One of my children around the same age as yours is somewhat bilingual between ASL and English. They often use other body language and lip read to get their point across. They do know their alphabet in ASL.
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