Unable to provide quick support services to students with adjustment or learning difficulties, Quebec’s primary schools are instructing their parents in the private sector, the Quebec Ombudsman observes.
Lack of funds and human resources compromised the service offer, he said in a special report released on Monday.
The investigation began in 2019 by the ombudsman, Mark-Andre Dowd, and his team. It is based on interviews with parents of 830 students and 827 staff member educators who provide services to their children, such as remedial teachers and special educators.
In her report, parents highlighted the “disturbing” observation that 39% of parents were invited by school administrators to personally assess their child, due to long delays in public networks. In total, the survey found, 42% had to pay for personal services, which was presented as a “worrying” fact.
“Equity has a problem because there are people who have no choice but to resort to private services,” Mr Dowd said during a press conference in the National Assembly.
Private sector shelters also have limitations as assessments are made outside the school context.
“That can be recommended [dans une évaluation au privé] The school community does not necessarily come together with what it can or should do to help the child succeed, ”he said.
More than eight months of waiting
Delays measured by the survey show that most students with problems have to wait eight months or more before receiving an assessment of their needs. Added to this is the delay in getting the service, which in 36% of the cases is more than five months.
Although it obliges the Ministère de l’Education du Québec (MEQ) to provide these services free of charge, the education law does not set a time limit for receiving them. And once they are received, there is no guarantee that they will suffice, Mr. Dowd said.
“It also happens that services are not provided with the required frequency and intensity,” he said.
Lack of resources and funding means that the services that are offered first and foremost are for children who fail in school.
“Achieving a passing grade is not a scale that a child has or does not have difficulty adjusting or learning.” In some cases, the services only shut down when the child gets a passing grade, when the demands were still there. A
Defective funding model
According to the report, MEQ does not know how many positions need to be filled specifically for remedial teachers and special educators in Quebec schools. According to the latest assessment made by the department in the autumn of 2020, there were 493 vacancies in service centers and school boards.
Psychologists, psychiatrists and speech therapists have been the most requested.
Québec Ombudsman also notes that despite the promises made by Education Minister Jean-Franোয়াois Robert, professionals who provide services to students with disabilities are overwhelmed by the paperwork. In 2020, Mr. Ruber promised to relieve them of this burden.
According to the report, the “quality assurance” process imposed by the MEQ to justify the budget provided for disadvantaged students rests on the shoulders of their exempt staff.
“When we are in accountability, we are not providing services, we are not evaluating children, we are not providing services,” noted Miss. Dawood 6
Minister Roberts’ office said Monday that the current model of financing special education services is flawed. In early 2020, the minister suspended the quality assurance process and withdrew it for sure in 2021.
A new model will be launched in 2023, said press officer Florent Tanlet.
“It is estimated that the new model will free up 375,000 hours of bureaucracy directly for student services,” he said in a written statement.