Monday, September 08, 2008

School District seeks conditions before children will be placed in local schools

With the first week of September, also counting as the first week of the new school year, the bid of a Prince Rupert woman to have her children placed in School District 52 made it to the front page of Thursday’s paper last week.

Bonita Wilson recounted for the Daily News some of the outstanding issues between her and the School District, an apparently complicated string of events that at one point had the School District cite section 91 of the School Act (see page 79-80) last year which saw her children temporarily removed from the system.

The issue clearly has put the School District in a rather tough spot, while they no doubt wish to provide an education to all; they must always balance off the safety of the entire student, staff population and the children themselves. It would appear that this was a situation that seems to have been of the highest concern last school year, judging by the drastic measures that they had to resort to.

It’s a situation that remain unresolved as of the first week of the school year but may find some forward movement this week when Wilson meets with School District 52 and the Ministry of Children and Family Development, all in a bid to try and return her children to the regular educational stream.

School District says conditions must be met first prior to reinstatement
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Page one

A woman who fought for nearly 10 years to get her children back from Ministry care is fighting again, this time to get her two sons back into school in Prince Rupert.

A ward of the province herself at the age of 12, Bonita Wilson says she was the victim of abuse as a young girl living in violent homes. Having her three children all taken from her custody when they were as young as six months old, she spent many years trying to get them back into her life, struggling with her own demons and the judicial system all the while.

“I got them back last year and found out that they aren’t allowed at any school here in Prince Rupert (earlier this week),” said Wilson.

“They’ve said that they need to be on Ritalin and that they’re problem children. They were already out of school for six months last year.”

The two children are currently living with Wilson, but remain wards of the province of British Columbia as they have been most of their lives.

Last year they were removed from the school district under section 91 of the School Act, which is used when children are a danger to themselves or to others, and the school district has exhausted efforts to meet the needs of a child while still keeping others safe.

As the suspension is only meant as a temporary last resort, a set of conditions are issued that must be met for the child to be allowed back on school grounds according to the school district.

“They can’t come onto the school property until they and the family deal with the serious issues that they are presented with,” said Superintendent of Schools Eric Mercer, “It’s very serious and it’s not done very often in school districts but it was applied to them last year.”

Generally school districts are expected to have made all efforts in attempting to deal with students prior to considering such a harsh suspension. Mercer said that numerous serious incidents involving the boys occurred where the welfare of other students and even staff were at risk, but did not reveal specifics.

Until those conditions have been satisfied, her children are not even allowed to partake in the Hospital/Homebound Program, where students receive course materials and have a teacher assigned to them who may visit from one to several times a week.

Wilson has a meeting with School District 52 staff and the Ministry of Children and Family Development next week to attempt to find a solution to getting the two children back into the educational system.

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