Surrey School District building. (File photo)

Teachers’ union says Surrey is ‘sacrificing’ services for special-needs students

School district maintains learning and support continues during audit

The Surrey Teachers Association says services to students with serious and complex special needs are being put on the backburner this month as the school district focuses on a ministry audit of those services.

Describing the move as “very troubling,” STA president Matt Westphal said a grievance was filed last month in an attempt to quash the practice, citing concerns including that “the resulting denial of services to students with designations is discriminatory, and makes our members complicit in that discrimination.”

“We do not take issue with the need for an audit, or with the importance of passing the audit. But we vehemently disagree that services to students should be sacrificed for a month in the name of the audit,” Westphal told Peace Arch News by email.

School district spokesman Doug Strachan said Wednesday that it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the grievance, citing respect for the process.

But he did dispute the assertion that the audit was impacting students.

“We believe student learning and support properly continues while the audit work is being done,” he told PAN.

Strachan described the audit as “one of several that are routinely done by the Ministry of Education every year of different districts.”

“This year, our district is in the audit.”

Westphal said a lack of funding and clerical support means staff including integration support teachers, school counsellors and school psychologists are “being taken away from their actual work for students” to focus on the audit. It’s taking place while individual education plans for students are still in process, he added.

Practices under scrutiny, Westphal said, include such “clerical” elements as whether files have salmon-coloured dividers.

He said examples of consequences for students include one school where students will have no learner-support-team services until January; and counsellors being unavailable to see students except in emergencies.

Strachan said the audit is “to ensure students are getting the services they need and that these services have been properly documented.”

“This is not clerical work; this is the core work of support teachers,” he said. “It is the work they do every day.”

Westphal said Wednesday afternoon that the union has yet to receive an official response to the grievance.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

OUR VIEW: Surrey train tragedy a safety reminder for us all

Summer typically brings cautionary tales

White Rock council favours tree canopy over double-deckers

Decision not to prune will limit 354 route to single-decker buses

First Police Board meeting Thursday a ‘pivotal moment’ in Surrey’s history, mayor says

The 10 a.m. “virtual” meeting Aug. 6 will be live-streamed and details on tuning in will be available at surrey.ca/policeboard

BC ACORN report calls on Surrey to help renters

Report contains steps on how the City of Surrey can “ease” the city’s housing crisis

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Dinosaurs revived for animatronic auction in Langley

More than 500 robot dinosaurs, fossils, and exhibition gear are going on the block Aug. 6

UPDATE: Slow growth for wildfire near Harrison Hot Springs

Fire now burns 12 hectares, grew by 2 hectares overnight

B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking 2,700 overdose calls in July

Province pledges $10.5 million for expansion of overdose prevention response

Canada signs deals with Pfizer, Moderna to get doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Earlier in July both Pfizer and Moderna reported positive results from smaller trials

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

Cyclist in hospital after being hit by load of lumber hanging from truck on B.C. highway

A man is in hospital with broken ribs, punctured lung and a broken clavicle and scapula

Most Read