CADDAC’s Meeting with the Ministry of Education and Other Politicians
Meeting with the Ontario Ministry of Education
On March 23, 2021, CADDAC met with Ontario Ministry of Education representatives, Claudine Munroe, Ontario Director, Special Education and Success for All Branches, Anne Sealey, Manager Program Policy and Coordinated Services Unit and Crawford Dedman Senior Policy Advisor. The fact that three representatives were present at the meeting was interpreted as a sign that the campaign, with the help of your e-mails, had successfully captured the Ministry’s attention.
CADDAC opened the meeting by stating that, “The Ministry of Education and school boards across Ontario have made it clear that, despite decades of research proving otherwise, they do not view ADHD as a disability that seriously impacts learning and achievement.” Then opening with the Ministry’s own quote, “The categories are designed to address a wide range of conditions that may affect a student’s ability to learn and that the inclusion of some medical conditions in the definitions is not intended to exclude students with other medical conditions” we explained how the exclusion of ADHD in the categories of exceptionalities was in reality causing great inequity and explicit discrimination of students with ADHD.
The 2011 Memorandum
To support this statement, CADDAC presented a list of benefits that an official designation as an exceptional student (IPRC) provides, that students with ADHD do not receive. We then shared examples of how the Ministry has allowed Ontario school boards to interpret the 2011 Memorandum on Categories of Exceptionalities as they see fit. CADDAC stated that this inability to ensure that school boards followed the memorandum has led to great inconsistency in supports for students with ADHD and resulted in clear human rights violations.
Inequity of Supports
CADDAC shared examples of just how inequitable our special education system in Ontario currently is:
- students within boards who are following the Memorandum are receiving individual education plans (IEPs) legally mandated by an IPRC;
- students in other boards are being refused IEPs due to the fact that ADHD is not included in the categories;
- other students are receiving IEPs at a principal’s discretion only to see them later discontinued also at the school’s discretion;
- as a policy another school board discontinues all IEPs for students with ADHD when they reach high school; and
- one of the largest boards is contemplating stopping all IEPs, when not tied to an IPRC, for young students.
Across most boards students with ADHD are being unfairly punished. The lack of an IPRC designation negates the necessity for principals to consider a student’s medical impairments that may have contributed to the transgression.
Lack of Educator Training
CADDAC then focused on what we see as an extremely significant issue, lack of educator training. Educators receive very minimal training on learning impairments caused by ADHD and even less on appropriate teaching strategies and classroom accommodations, yet are expected to meet the needs of these students. We reminded the Ministry how the inclusion of Autism in the Communication Category led to significant educator training.
Lack of Web site Information and a Voice for ADHD on Education Committees
CADDAC further substantiated the statement that the Ministry does not recognize ADHD as a serious learning risk by pointing out that ADHD does not have a voice on government education committees, such as MACSE and few voices on SEAC, CADDAC being barred representation until very recently. In addition, the Ministry hosts only one document on their web site on ADHD and includes only inappropriate sample IEPs for students with ADHD on their educator web site. This lack of information is especially apparent when compared to the information provided for other neurodevelopmental disorders.
CADDAC closed the presentation by pointing out that Ontario is one of the only provinces that does not include ADHD in their categories of exceptionalities. Our ask is that the Ontario Ministry of Education explicitly include ADHD in the Communications Category, and/or that the Communications Category be changed to the Neurodevelopmental Disorder Category, thereby allowing for the inclusion of all neurodevelopmental disorders.
The Ministry’s Response
The Ministry representatives were attentive, acknowledged that they heard what we were saying and shared that they were aware that this request has been presented more than once in the past. They asked about CADDAC resources that we could share with them. Links to CADDAC ADHD educational information were sent to them following the meeting.
The Ministry stated that they were working on some changes, but could not share what they were at this time. CADDAC requested a time for a follow-up meeting when they could share this information. We were told that prior to the summer or early fall would be an appropriate time. We informed them that we would be reaching out for a meeting date prior to the summer. CADDAC also notified them that we would be notifying our followers about the meeting and a media release would be forthcoming.
Additional Political Meetings
CADDAC also recently met with other political representatives to inform them of the issues we presented during our meeting with the Ministry. These representatives offered their support and asked that we keep them in the loop. They also recommended that CADDAC continue to encourage our supporters to reach out to their MPPs, stating that politicians do indeed take great notice of the correspondence that they receive from their constituents.