Legal Alert: SCC Finds Failure to Provide Sufficient Remedial Education to Dyslexic Student Is Discriminatory
November 9, 2012
A British Columbia child suffering from severe dyslexia could not obtain the necessary remedial assistance he required in B.C.’s public school system. He attended the local Diagnostic Centre that could provide such assistance until it was closed. His parents then transferred him to a private school. The parents subsequently filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Commission against the School District and the Province alleging discrimination against the child on the basis he was denied a public service in violation of the B.C. Human Rights Code. The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal agreed; however, two B.C. courts found there was no discrimination. The parents appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
On November 9, 2012 the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision, finding that the District and the Province had discriminated against the child. The SCC held that:
- The public “service” the child had been denied is education generally, not “special education”;
- On its face, the child was discriminated against because of his disability based on the combined effect of the following facts: (1) the District, its employees and the experts all clearly recognized the child required intensive remediation to have meaningful access to education; (2) the closure of the Diagnostic Centre; and (3) the family was told the District could not otherwise provide the necessary remedial services; and
- The failure to provide any meaningful education to the child was not justified for financial reasons because the budgetary cuts were disproportionately made to special needs programs. More significantly, the District completely failed to conduct any assessment – financial or otherwise – of alternatives to accommodate special needs students following the closure of the Diagnostic Centre.
Click here to read the SCC’s decision in Moore v. British Columbia (Education).
Watch for our full analysis of this case to be published soon.
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