Parents’ rights defined in new Nanaimo school board policy

NANAIMO – Policy allows deputy superintendent to intervene on special needs testing.

Parents might not have final say on special education testing for their children, according to a Nanaimo school district proposal that will define rights and roles of parents.

Superintendent Dave Hutchinson presented a draft of the Parents’ Roles, Responsibilities, and Rights Administrative Procedure to trustees at a recent board meeting. It states that while parents have the right to “withhold written consent for special education individual assessment,” the deputy superintendent of learning services can veto that if the student is deemed to be affecting their own or others’ educational well-being.

Donna Reimer, school district spokeswoman, said parents are usually happy to have their children tested to determine problems but occasionally parents don’t want assessment. That doesn’t pose a problem unless it interferes with learning and it would be examined case by case.

Parents don’t have the total right to deny testing altogether but it’s usually a unique circumstance, she said.

“If we have the student in the school and we need to provide them with an education and the parent, for some reason, is not co-operative, and it’s posing a real problem for that student or other students, then we would have to look at a process to go ahead and get the testing done,” said Reimer.

The procedure hasn’t been finalized and the school district will provide copies to the Nanaimo district parent advisory council, the teachers’ and support workers’ unions and Aboriginal education leaders for comment, with the aim of giving final approval in November.

Reimer said parents can provide comment via the district parent advisory council, which can be contacted via email at dpacsd68@gmail.com.

The district parent advisory council was contacted for comment but had not responded as of press time.

Information on the draft can be found in the Sept. 24 regular board meeting agenda, which is available online at www.sd68.bc.ca/Board/boardmeetings.asp.