100 Nights of Advocacy – Night 8

IPRC request letter in Night 7

Effective Practices – Considering write or typing the note on paper, date and sign. Either call and/or email to confirm that it was received. Avoid adding other issues related to your child and/or the school into the letter or confirming communication. Do not include any grievance in either. These are specific purposeful letters. Any additional material should be positive.

Care should be given to be positive in your interactions with your child’s school and the school board as well as other service providers. This is particularly true with email and social media. It is normal to experience considerable frustration and anxiety when trying to obtain appropriate support for your child. It is not helpful , however, to allow your frustration to seep into your interactions with staff. Keep written correspondence as neutral and positive as you can. It is helpful to get a friend or family member to edit material before you send it.  
The 24 Hour Rule – When some event has made you upset, try not to despond in way for at least 24 hours. We generally regret immediate responses because they are not thought out and are fuelled by emotion.

100 Night of Advocacy – Night 7

The past post looked at how ASD can and should be identified with an IPRC.  Likewise, though many school boards might be reticent to identify a child with other conditions such as Attentional Deficit Hyperactity Disorder, Fetal Alchohol Spectrum Disorder and others that are not specifically noted in the IPRC regulations,  there is often a strong argument that can BR made to identify such children.  We will explore this issue later.

Back to the story of Emily

Emily’ mother, after consideration, requested an IPRC meeting in writing to the Principal of the school.


Good Practices Comment

Below you will find a sample IPRC request letter. This letter is sent to the principal directly. It is a good practice to bring the                 letter in yourself but you must remember to remain positive in your interactions. I suggest a paper copy be give, though an email copy could also be sent. If this is not an initial IPRC make any changes appropriate. The letter is brief and to the point. Be sure to individualize the template and make it yours.


The Principal

Name of School

Address of School


Dear Mr. or Ms (Name of Principal)

Re: (Name of Child) (Date of Birth)

The purpose of this letter is to request that you refer my daughter/son to the school board’s Identification, Placement and Review Committee for the purpose of identifying her/him as an exceptional child and of determining the most enabling educational placement with appropriate programs and Services for her/him.

I do want to thank you for your consideration for and support of my son/daughter. The school has been very embracing and accommodating of Emily and her needs.

Emily father, Mr. O’Neil, has a visual impairment and will require materials written in Braille.

Thank you for processing this request promptly. I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely
(your name)

cc (Superintendent of your Family of Schools)

100 Nights of Advocacy Update

I have made 6 posts thus far. The posts are linear, build on each other and support the three webinars on IPRCs.

The first approximately 30 posts will focus on events prior to the IPRC, the next third look at the meeting itself and the last third about Advocacy style.

I am adjusting and expanding posts based on your responses to the material.

I will post the test posted this far in one piece at intervals as we progress.

Eventually this will form a one price publication or book.

Give me feedback. It helps me a great deal.

100 Nights of Advocacy – Night 5

Emily’s mother, though pleased with the support and engagement from the school asked Ms. Patel, the Resource Teacher, if they could identify Emily through an Individual Placement and Review Committee. (IPRC). 

Possible Responses

 • The School promptly begins to schedule an IPRC.

• The special education teacher/principal/other staff respond with some combination of the following…

     They do not IPRC children until grade ?

     They do not IPRC children unless they are to be moved into a special ed class/get educational assistant support/etc…

     They can provide the child with appropriate support without having an IPRC.

Let’s assume that the school was in someway reticent to schedule an IPRC. Why?  It is important have some empathy for the world view of school staff.  In some cases, school boards have particular ways of doing things that have grown organically over time.  They have a culture of shared beliefs and practices.  An additional consideration is that from the point of the view of the school, IPRCs can be resource consuming and do not from their point of view do not always come with resources.  It is common for educators to say that they can meet the needs of the child without an IPRC.  

Yet, for a variety of reasons we will look at next, the IPRC is a legislated procedure that protects the rights of children.


100 Nights of Advocacy – Day 4

In a sense, this process follows the Applied Behaviour Analysis principle of shaping behaviour from the sample to the complex. It’s how we learn to swim and read and drive… and it’s a good way to learn advocacy. 

That being said, the best way I know to help you understand the labyrinth of the Ontario special education regulatory scheme is to initially refrain from addressing issues related to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 ASD is, in a word, “complicated.” The diagnosis shifts over time and has many facets and related conditions. In short, it has many moving parts.

 Also, if you care for and about the child on the spectrum, there is a tendency to miss the forest for the trees. The facts of their child’s life cloud and obscure a clear view of the process.

 I first learned the value of explaining special-education regulations in terms of a single trait physical disorder in my work teaching special education to teachers and educational assistants. When I spoke about the needs of the child who was blind or mobility challenged they got it. Such disabilities are immediately obvious to the senses and engage our “common sense”. By initially substituting a single physical limitation for ASD we replace big numbers with small numbers so that our common sense can perceive what should be. It allows you to say things like “Tom Cruise is in grade 9 and is profoundly learning disabled. He can’t read. How are we going to help him pass grade nine English?”

One final thought. We will use scenarios to explore of the material. Key concepts will be woven into the material. There will be links to source material, letter templates and other related resource material.

 The Case of Emily

 Emily Green was six years old and should be in grade one.

 She has moved from another province.

 She was visually impaired. She saw nothing. Her blindness was absolute.

 Emily had a medical diagnosis of profound vison impairment.

 There was no concern about or evidence of any other limitation or condition.

 There were no behavioural or safety issues.

 Emily had no system in place to allow her to access the curriculum. The other children could look at pictures and learn to read and print and draw but Emily could not.

 In September her mother, Ms. Green, walked into the neighbourhood community school on the first day to register her daughter. She also asked to meet immediately with the principal to talk about her daughter.

 The principal, Ms. Smith, responded by arranging to speak to the mother that morning. She immediately spoke to the school’s special education resource teacher as well as the classroom teacher to talk to them about Emily and her needs. The school also allocated an educational assistant for part of the day to provide support.

 Comment: The principal and the school acted appropriately by taking immediate action to provide initial programs and services and to collaborate with the parent.

 Relevant legislation and legal principles.

30. 9. (1) In accordance with requirements under the Education Act, no pupil is to be denied an education program pending a meeting or decision under this Regulation. O. Reg. 181/98, s. 9 (1).

 The concreteness of the visual impairment makes it obvious and self evident that Emily should be in school. It is also always clear that a child with a visual impairment should and could be identified with an exceptionality. The regulation states that programming and services must not wait until the child is identified.

 The Education Act states that all children have a right to be school.

32. (1) A person has the right, without payment of a fee, to attend a school in a school section, separate school zone or secondary school district, as the case may be, in which the person is qualified to be a resident pupil. 1997, c. 31, s. 13.

 Ontario’s human rights regimen would also come into play if the school in any way either denied or limited access to school or denied or limited appropriate accommodations for Emily to have meaningful access to education.

 Under the Code, education providers in both the publicly funded system and in private schools have a legal duty to accommodate students with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship. 

Ontario Human Rights Commission – Elementary and Secondary Education

Note: Words are important. When legislation uses verbs like “can” or “could” the statement is optional. When the regulation uses verbs like “shall” or “must” whatever the regulation states is mandatory.

 It would be rare that a child like Emily would be denied access to a school and/or at least some level of programs and services. However, schools could conceivably respond in a variety of less productive ways including: 

• Providing for no support.

• Providing a limited support.

• Allowing for unsafe situations to occur.

• Denying entry/registration until some future meeting.

• Denying entry into the school

 We will explore strategies based on regulations and law to encourage schools to comply with their obligations later on.

Special Education in Ontario 2017

Just posted by the Ministry.  A must read.  I will post material exploring the document soon.

The Ministry of Education has developed Special Education in Ontario, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Policy and Resource Guide (2017) to support educators in the implementation of effective programs and/or services for students with special education needs. This document, available in PDF format (2.69 MB), supersedes Special Education: A Resource Guide (2001) as well as the following policy and resource documents:

Special Education in Ontario 2017