TDSB School Asked My Autistic Student Not to Attend Graduation

14704200941_0002188237_zI woke up this morning to the word ‘freedom’ in my mind. How wonderful I thought this is a day to project freedom. I was asked by Priya’s dad (not her real name) if I could take care of her this morning and drop her to school at 10:30am rather than regular time at 8:40am. Priya my autistic student that attends my after school program and is absolutely beautiful. Hmmm- That’s a strange request I thought. I was happy to care for her however confused about why the school would ask  her to come late. He texted me that the teacher asked the JK students to come at 10:30 because the Senior kindergarten students were having graduation. So this morning I did have to pass by the school at 8:40am and noticed ALL the kids were on their way to school – as usual. The parents, students and teachers were dressed up, handing out gifts and looking excited for a party. I stopped some of the JK parents walking to ask if they knew anything about this late drop off? They all said no. I asked one of ECE helpers and she said: ‘oh Priya has to come at 10:30 today.’ I said: ‘can I ask why?’ She said: ‘wellllll we don’t have an EA for her this morning.’ ‘And you have an EA after 10:30?’ Welllllll you see we’re going to give out treats and Priya will see that and get realllly upset. But please don’t say anything.’ So I guess what you’re saying is you don’t want Priya to ruin your graduation?

I went up to the teacher and asked and she said: ‘you know what? I can’t speak to you, you’re not the parent and SHE is supposed to come at 10:30.’ Wow- I thought. I walked in to the principal and said: ‘I am Priya’s caregiver and I know this is non of my business (I’ve been informed) however I want you to know that what’s happening here this morning is wrong. This Muirhead PS student was asked not to attend this graduation don’t you find that a bit discriminatory? She has the right to be here just as everyone yet you’re asking her not to attend school until 10:30 when it’s over?.’ She looked at me firmly and said: ‘ I call it setting up kids for success. And if your that upset talk to the dad.’ As newcomers to Canada the father was confused about his daughters rights in the public school system. I spoke to him on the phone and he said: ‘I was just doing as they asked.’

I spent the morning with Priya grocery shopping which was wonderful. I looked at her and thought: she has no voice because she is still young. She doesn’t even know what’s going on and I felt sad. What if this was happening to the teacher and this was her child? I am a  teacher and I know what I love most about my profession. It’s to make a positive difference in the lives of young people and to watch them grow. To me, it’s the best profession in the world.

As I walked Priya to class at 10:30am I saw her  teacher in the hallway holding her cupcake. I asked her: ‘is this the right time for you now?’ ‘Yup. 10:30.’ she said. I told her that this was not personal but this act that the school took to not allow this autistic child to attend graduation was a disgrace to my profession. I told her that what happened today was sad because our world is suffering from discrimination and the only difference of what happened today and in South Carolina is that people died as a result. I said I would write about this because really that’s all I can do. All I can do is spread the word so we grow and learn from this. She looked at me as she finished her cupcake and circled her hand in my face: ‘You know what? You do whatcha gotta do.’ ‪#‎shame ‪#‎autism ‪#‎kidsrights ‪#‎freedom #spreadtheworld #muirheadps #discrimination  #tdsb

 

 

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163 thoughts on “TDSB School Asked My Autistic Student Not to Attend Graduation

  1. Niya

    This absolutely made me angry. I sent an email to CP24 to take this issue and investigate it further. Hopefully a resolution is made to prevent further kids from being discriminated unfairly.

    Reply
    1. Tyler Cameron

      I emailed CP24 as well. And thanks to everyone else for your responses. Tweet and Share this throughout your networks to get the word out.

      Reply
  2. Thula

    This is true TDSB abusuing a lot. They are using these children for their founding only. They are abusing the parents too. Even though they got highest marks they don’t like to give correct evaluation on the progress card. They expect double than other children. Principal also very support and only purpose founding. They don’t care children progress or family wellness.

    Reply
  3. Destiny Campbell

    I’m so sorry for that amazing family, how in the WORLD does setting children up for success mean teaching those same kids to discriminate against those with special needs as to not ruin their celebration that they EARNED too? How dare they ask her to stay home and lie about why! SHAME on you TDSB, that’s deplorable! I guess you’re only inclusive when it meets your needs, and that’s a very sad thing for the future of children with special needs and those without that spend so many hours a day learning from you. This is the very reason why I’m so worried about leaving the education of my children in the hands of these idiots. Stop trying to hide these beautiful and remarkable children from the world!

    Reply
  4. SH

    I really hope you take this to the media. This is disgraceful, shameful and appalling. The teacher’s behaviour is disgusting and she doesn’t deserve to be in the position that she is in. Please spread the word and get the media involved, the TDSB should know what is happening in their schools.

    Reply
  5. Tyler Cameron

    My wife and I have both shared this on Facebook. This was also posted on the Autism Ontario facebook Peel Chapter page but was removed. Our 2 year old son was recently diagnosed with moderate to severe Autism and it’s stories like this that worry me about the precedent schools are allowed to set. I can only hope that word gets to the trustee, Ken Lister, who has a history of working with Youth Services and understands the impact this has on the community, the family, and how this casts a very terrible light on the school’s understanding to Autism.

    Thank you so much for sharing this story, I hope it takes flight, this should be on local or national news.

    Reply
      1. Jenn

        I’m not surprized at all.. I am sad but not shocked. Being the parent of a wonderful 17 year old who entered the public school system, We have had a constant battle.. Getting the support he needed, and getting the understanding. We have been told to leave a school where he thrived, because of the “Most cost effective way to teach”. I will always wonder why anyone thinks it’s a good idea to put kids who have difficultly with socialization in a class with the same role models. I insisted on full integration… with great role models within the class. My son has done amazing.. But… it has taken every thing I have to fight the system. It is an Ontario wide problem, not just TDSB. Most teachers don’t even realize that Administration gets direction from it’s boards. The same place they get budgets. I’m not sure if the Ontario Ministry of Education really understands the extent of the abuse from the boards. My advise to any parent having an issue… contact your local ministry office. They will help you advocate for your child. Forget the individual boards.. they are budget driven. There are some amazing teachers out there, who truly care, but I don’t know if they truly understand why “That student” who was doing really well, is now in another school. They want to believe these students are getting extra help and support.. but the reality is far what anyone wants to believe.

      2. Robin

        I think that it is truly wonderful that you are bringing awareness to this unfortunate situation. However, can you please remember to use person-first language. Priya is not an “autistic student.” She is a student with autism. This may seem like a small difference, but it is an incredibly important one. Autism does not define who a person is, rather it is a small piece to their puzzle. Thanks so much!

      3. ganondox

        @Robin

        Actually, most autistic people prefer not to use person first language, as they see autism as part of their identity, and they find trying to separate it like it’s a tumor to be insulting. What is actually incredibly important is to listen to what autistic people have to say.

      4. pgzwicker

        @Robin – She very much is an Autistic student. The language is fine and I hope won’t be changed.

        ASAN has a very informative article written about why so many of us prefer Autistic – it’s important because it is written by Autistic people. It’s fine for language to evolve and change and it is very important to recognise when it does. It’s also important to remember that how those not on the Spectrum speak to us as Autistic adults reflects how your children may be treated when they are adults and defining themselves.

        take care.

        http://autisticadvocacy.org/home/about-asan/identity-first-language/

      5. Robin

        @pgzwicker and @gananbox,
        Thanks for that link. I have been told over and over throughout my time as an educator and throughout my own education in special education (currently working towards my graduate degree) how important person-first language is, specifically for those with autism. It is actually a requirement for my assignments and discussions. I have also worked with many children on the spectrum and their families and they have all wanted us to use person-first language. I think maybe it comes down to personal choice. Some people, I suppose, see that having autism is a big part of who they are, and some do not want it to identify who they are. Thanks for the additional insight!

      1. Destiny Campbell

        I had asked the same thing to the Autism Ontario facebook Peel Chapter. They got back to me right away. They were asked to take it down because it came from a blog not from a news source and that they would be watching this story closely and hope to have more info to share soon. However they said if there is anything we would like to share personally, we can always post to their page. I will be posting it there right now.

  6. Meghan

    I’m a mom with 2 of my 3 kids on the Autism Spectrum. “Thankfully”, my son is “severe” enough to qualify for Autism-specific class in school, and my daughter (who doesn’t have Autism) is actually jealous of his class because of all the trips and experiences he has while she sits in class. Unfortunately, I know the situation described in this post is the “reality” because we, as a family, are excluded from a lot because others don’t know how my son will react…and they don’t bother asking me. Our true friends and family know all they have to do is ask me, and I’ll let them know.

    Reply
  7. N Taylor

    I’m in shock. Im so sorry for her. My son is 4 and lives with autism and is non verbal. I can relate. I want to suggest looking into HRTO. 😉

    Reply
  8. Dee Gordon

    My son has been so hurt by adults working in this system. #Autism is a Nurological Brain Disorder. children should be included and not left behind like this child and mine.
    Imagine 13 schools and on a “Do not admit” for the past two+ months
    I remember when my child was in JK and SK… I was told: By Law, children don’t have to be in school until they are six years old. School can do whatever they like.
    Autism is sadly underfunded and we need all Canadians to sign our petition:
    http://www.walktoottawa.org
    Asking for a Pan-Canadian Autism Strategy.
    I walked to Ottawa January 15-29, 2015 for all children, adolescence, adults and families affected by Autism.
    I’m a #mom advocating🇨🇦
    Pay Now Or Pay Later

    http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/391/soci/rep/repfinmar07-e.pdf

    FaceBook Group: Walk To Ottawa
    Twitter: @walktoottawa
    Tumblr: Walk To Ottawa
    Instagram: Walk To Ottawa

    Reply
  9. Muna Kadri

    I’m a teacher in York Region. I would love to organize a graduation for this student. Email me if you get a chance so that we can get something going.

    Reply
  10. Elissea Corsianos

    Hello my name is Elissea Corsianos and I work for York Region too and I too would support that initiative in creating a graduation or something else special for this little girl.

    Reply
    1. Mamma bear

      I hope you are willing to wait until 2016 for the graduation. That is when this student will graduate. Not this year

      Reply
  11. Emily

    My son attended this school so this is shocking to me. I thought it was a wonderful school until reading this

    Reply
  12. TantienHime

    My brother (who is autistic, and has tourettes syndrome, ADHD and epilepsy) was in the TDSB and was bounced around like a basketball in many cases. I’m happy to say however, that he had teachers and people on the front line who cared a great deal for him. He attended his graduation, so why shouldn’t this young one. Tweeted and Facebooked. Keep the faith and the fight.

    Reply
    1. Mamma bear

      This little one also has people and teachers who care a great deal about her. She too will attend her graduation …. Next year, right on time.

      Reply
    1. Jill Garvin

      Autistic people often do not like person first language. My daughter and many others prefer to be called autistic.

      Reply
    2. LC

      As an autistic woman and mother of an autistic daughter, let’s not. Our autism is as much a part of us as anything else on our genomes.

      Reply
    3. Suzanne

      How about we not argue about piddly things and focus more on the people? My son is autistic and when he’s old enough to decide, I will do as he prefers. Thank you for your two cents, but I have my own coin purse full of pennies. If you think person first is correct, YOU use that. If you think people are autistic, call them autistic. Last time I checked, there was no need to be politically correct regarding autism. There are bigger issues. Thank you.

      Reply
  13. Susan

    This is horrible but not the first time something like this has happened in our school system. I know from first hand experience what it’s like to have your child excluded because of a medical problem. When it happened to my son 6 yes ago I thought it was my fault. He was older and it completely colored the way he looked at school. Please stand strong this kind of thing needs to be stopped

    Reply
  14. Rachel

    I may know where the educators are coming from as a Full Day Kindie teacher with 30 kids. If my ECE or support staff can’t be available to help with any child that needs extra care and attention – then my whole day is spent one on one with that particular student and the other 29 suffer. I do it often but can see on a special graduation day that was focusing on Seniors going to grade 1 that she needed to make the call to be present for the 29 (or however many other) students instead of all attention to the one. This is why we need more help in the classrooms!! We want to be fully inclusive all the time but one person can not be and do everything. Kathleen Wynne needs to hear this story too! It’s not just a bad call from the school it’s a systemic problem!! Not to mention class sizes in full day kindie are crazy. (I personally may have just asked in advance that another teacher or the office to watch the student if things weren’t going well). I feel for all sides because I’ve been there and I’m a parent too.

    Reply
      1. Tish

        That’s what you got from the post? Maybe you should take an extra reading/comprehension class!

    1. Marinella

      Apparently. the little girl in question is JK not SK, so it wasn’t her graduation day. The JK’s at this school were allowed to watch the singing and certificate presentations of the SK’s. I agree the school handled the situation poorly and opened themselves up for a public relation nightmare. Also, her named should have been changed to a neutral one in this story, not an East Indian one which is prejudicial even if she is East Indian.

      Reply
      1. Tish

        There are bigger issues here then worrying about the name used for the story! Technically anyone who would pick that out would probably have an issue with any name used! All I got and care about is a child was left out for something not her fault and something that she can’t control!

      2. Mrjteach

        I have friends with zero East Indian heritage and a beautiful young daughter named Priya. Let’s try to stop muddying the waters and focus on how we can do better for all the young people in our education system.

    1. Rebecca Wiggins

      Seriously what other side. This child was not welcomed at her Graduation because of a disablity she has no control over !!!!!!

      Reply
  15. Tina

    Thank you for taking the time to write about this! As an ABA therapist, this saddens my heart. Who else will advocate for these children if we don’t? Good on you, and to be honest I don’t know if I would of been able to hold
    Myself back from not bringing her in the smack middle of graduation! I hope this spreads like wild fire😀

    Reply
  16. Kim Bradley

    I’d like to help organize a graduation party for Priya if that is at all possible. She deserves that!

    Reply
      1. Andy

        So it wasn’t her graduation but it was a graduation ceremony where all except her were allowed. Does that make it okay for her to be excluded??? Do you work there and are defending your fellow ‘teachers’ for their irresponsible action??? To me, sounds like more bs from the teachers….the same one who want more money and we all know they’re ‘doing it for the children’!!!

  17. futhee

    What an awful story. I am so sorry this happened. I’m a TDSB teacher at a wonderful school where this would never have happened. This story has makes me so angry!

    Reply
  18. cheryl

    I am totally disgusted on how this child was left out Regardless of how busy someone is all children have the right to participate. What are we teaching kids today that its okay if someone is different they can be left out?? The autistic child should have been embraced and congratulated for their accomplishments not to be left out because they made disrupt the graduation. I am totally disgusted that this innocent child, who had no control over their disability would be made to feel like they don’t belong. Regardless of race, skin colour, mental capacity or income all CHILDREN should be treated the same. The school should be ashamed and parents of other children who think its okay because there childs graduation was not ruined need to give there head a shake. What if the role was reversed and this was your child how would you feel ??? Thank you to the care giver you stood up for the child!! You deserve a medal .

    Reply
  19. Susan

    I would just like to clarify. It was not the child’s graduation. Her chance to shine is next year. This was a time to celebrate the achievements of her SK classmates. It was a graduation for them.

    Reply
    1. LorI

      What bothers me about what happened isn’t about the graduation itself, it’s that the school body did not even see how they were being discriminatory. They set up an example to the entire student body and staff that it is ok to exclude a child. That’s a powerful and hateful message to be teaching 5 and 6 year olds, but that’s exactly what they have done.

      Reply
    2. Heart Learning Centre Post author

      Yes it was the SK graduation which the JK’s all got to sing with the SK’s and then got a treat. Initially when the parent asked me to drop her late, I assumed it was because she was in JK but when I pulled up to the school at 8:30am, everyone was present, even her classmates! I also care for 2 other JK students (one of them in Priya’s class) and they attended which is what saddened and shocked me.

      Reply
      1. Maria

        this is truly sad, they should have had a back up plan if the EA wasn’t available till 10:30 am. It sounds like an excuse by the school. We remember at the Fun fair last year when the parents all put in money for a raffle of big baskets that was for the kids and parents draw, and the Principal won the huge basket and ran to her room with it. We thought that was really lame. A fund raiser by parents and a TDSB employee took the draw home.They obviously missed the point.

      2. Sarah

        Exactly, this little person is part of the classroom community and should be allowed to participate fully in all community celebrations. This story is very upsetting. My ds has learning differences, and I have had the privilege of working with an autistic child. The bigger message of the school’s actions are terrifying. All little souls should be full members of their daily communities. End of story.

    3. Christy enman

      Regardless. All children should attend a assembly with the rest and not asked to stay home. That is the parents choice not the schools.
      They make 24 to 28 dollars an hour. I know I lived it. Problem is more then half of the EA/ SNA is they don’t want to do their job properly not do they care to. It’s money they want. Not the feeling of helping others in needs or watching them succeed.

      Reply
    4. CA

      Then what a great way to start putting in the process about what to expect for next years graduation for when it is her turn. A social story could of been made ahead of time to know what is expected. Then use the same social story though out the year for her to have a graduation she deserves like everyone else.

      What an opportunity missed for not only her but the other kids . If we do not teach children that everyone is different and does not react the same; who will for when they are grown adults?

      Reply
  20. Christy enman

    As a certified PSW and past ea/SNA. This makes me very angry. And is not acceptable.
    I have a child myself with autism and now advocate for parents who are unaware of issues or policies and what they can do and who to contact.
    I can attend IEP meetings and IPRC meeting with parents or caregivers so they understand the words being used and leave not feeling confused.
    As a principal. It is her duty to make sure ALL children are able to attend and a teacher or EA who was in prep should have helped so this little one could attend.
    I would gladly do that as well.
    I am sorry for your hurt for this injustice.
    My email is christycopley@icloud.com.
    I would be more then happy to assist.

    Reply
  21. Donna Ward

    I was so upset when I read this e-mail that, at first, I didn’t know how to respond. As a retired teacher, I was astounded by the reaction of the teacher and principal of Muirhead P.S. when questioned about their decision to exclude a student from her own graduation. The reaction of both the teacher and principal needs to be addressed by the TDSB. Has anyone contacted the Director of Education over this horrendous incident? A primary tenet of the TDSB is inclusion. Children learn by example. How can the other students learn to understand and accept others if their role models fail to do so? I sincerely hope that the Director of Education and the media investigate this situation.

    Reply
    1. Sue

      I am glad you are a retired teacher because apparently reading is not your forte.
      The child wasn’t excluded from her graduation.

      Reply
  22. Kira

    I emailed an email to both the Trustee and Superintendent; what good it will do, I do not know. This entire situation enrages me – as a parent of an autistic child, as a parent of non-autistic children, and as a human being.

    Reply
  23. sharon

    Shame on the Principal and the teacher! Kudos to the writer for exposing these so called teachers in our community who are discriminating against special needs kids. Teachers or cheaters?? They are poisoning innocent minds against special needs kids. What if these kids had special needs siblings back home? Would they tell them to stay outside and come back home after the party is over? What if the teachers had an autistic child? What is the salary of TDSB teachers?

    Reply
  24. Sandra Smith

    Don’t blame this on the TDSB. Put the blame squarely on the teacher and the administrator! This should never have happened. If the child has difficulty staying calm in new environments like an assembly full of parents or there was a fear that she might be disruptive to the proceedings, arrangements should have been made to have a trusted individual sit with her in the “graduation”. I am certain this kind of discrimination is not TDSB policy and that is not happening school-wide. My hat goes off to the after-school teacher for making the issue public after experiencing a very dissatisfactory response from the school.

    Reply
  25. Margherita Vitone

    This is disgusting to say the least. And as alarming as it is that this school would deliberately keep a child away from their graduation, there is more than one problem they have. Not only does these “teachers” from a tdsb school think it is okay for a child with autism to be left out of school functions. But thankfully they have a teacher who is willing to stand up for student’s rights but he/she thinks that “ECE helper” is the correct name for an educator. The last time I checked, Early Childhood Educators were trained in child development and have more patience, knowledge and understanding of “behaviours” that TEACHERS choose not to tolerate. This is the reason I will never want to become a teacher. They teach children a curriculum, they teach them what is right and what is wrong based on information they have been provided, teaching from a lesson plan or curriculum. ECE’s encourage children to THINK, EXPLORE, QUESTION, TEST, EXPERIMENT,TRY NEW THINGS. That is where all the learning happens. Teacher children HOW to think, NOT what to think and memorize. This is revolting on many levels. So disappointed…

    Reply
    1. Veronica

      Ummm…relax. Teachers do all those things, if they are good, honest, critically thinking individuals. As a high school teacher, I’m insulted by your characterization of teachers. Since ECEs are a recent phenomenon, would you then say that students didn’t EXPLORE or QUESTION or EXPERIMENT prior to ECEs in classrooms? Maybe get to know more teachers first and what we actually do instead of accusing us of being mindless automatons who simply ask students to repeat things robotically.

      Reply
  26. Lyn Atkins

    As a teacher of special needs within TDSB, I am appalled by the attitude and behaviour of the staff and administration. All children should have the opportunity to attend. This has made me very angry and I feel the family’s rights have been taken away. This needs to be spread far and wide, so it does not happen to another child.

    Reply
  27. A&I's Mom

    Thank you for sharing. Please be sure to help the family become educated and be able to fight for this young student. Setting a child up for success is about deciding to change a small part so they can still participate. Why can’t she have the treats? Are they for the graduates only? Bring something that you can give her as a treat, something small but a treat. SMH. I use to shy away from things I thought would be hard for my son but I have learned if I take a few extra steps often he can succeed in his own way. (my son in nonverbal Autistic). He shows me everyday I can expect great things from him, I just have to trust him.

    Reply
  28. Cheryl D

    My youngest sister has Done Syndrome. It can be very difficult for people who have not be able to experience the ways of changing the little things to accomadate for a special child. The princepal and teachers at that school should have been able to think of something to allow this young lady enjoy what her peers were enjoying, Shame on them, and Shame on anyone who thinks this was the right thing to do. I know if I had been the caregiver of this young lady we would have gone anyway. Yes I am a big voice of my opinion sometimes, I don’t care. This kind of discrimination will not go away any time soon. All we can do is to keep educating people. My sister helped me to understand that it was okay to be different, because she knew she was different. My children and grandchildren have grown up with knowing everyone is their own person and discriminating in any way is not okay!

    Reply
  29. Educational Strategies

    I’m in the US, but here anyone can report a teacher or school to the state department of education. Even if the parent is okay with this, it is illegal in many countries to deny education which is precisely what happened in this case.

    Reply
  30. Kim

    Has this gone to the Toronto Star? The Star has given a lot of coverage to autism. Please contact the Autism Ontario office on King West for the correct reporter to connect with.

    Reply
  31. Mafa

    I was directed to this response that TDSB posted on their Facebook page:

    TDSB’s response to blog post about Muirhead PS student
    24 June 2015 at 11:56

    It has come to our attention that a blog post has been written without consent about a student at Muirhead PS. Please note, that this is not written by the child’s parents or TDSB staff, nor is it accurate. While we are very limited in what we can say publically due to privacy reasons, rest assured that the situation is not as it is portrayed. All decisions were made together with the family and in the child’s best interest. It’s our understanding that the child’s parents have asked the author to remove the post. At this point, it does not appear that they have been successful.

    Reply
    1. Heart Learning Centre Post author

      In response to their post on facebook I wrote:
      I am the author of the blog and in response to YOUR inaccuracy.
      I never claimed to be a TDSB staff or the parent. It is clear as day in my post that I am the child’s caregiver. I also hold a bachelor of education in Ontario.
      I have text messages from the parent saying they are fine with the blog but requested the picture changed- which I did.
      I did not use the name of the child nor mention the teacher and I have the right to express my disapproval for the choices made by Muirhead Ps so others can learn from this upsetting incident.
      I agree teachers and principals do a lot of wonderful things for our students and kids however this shouldn’t have happened in my opinion.
      I am not sure what is inaccurate? That I didn’t drop her at 10:30am when school starts at 8:40? That the parents texted me the reason was because ‘the teacher asked them to drop her at 10:30?’ That this is discrimination? If it isn’t why don’t you have a good reason as to why every other child in JK was invited to sing at the SK graduation for their friends?
      The parents did agree for the child to come late- but were unaware that they could say: no.

      Reply
      1. Mafa

        Good for you. I wasn’t buying their accusatory and deflective statement. The fact that the parent’s were unclear as to what their choices were is wrong.

  32. Mehereen

    Its appalling and entirely avoidable. they could have asked the parents to come with Priya. That way, she could have been included like the rest of her classmates. A very bad call by her teacher and principle. I have also emailed CP24 to look into it and give it the attention it deserves. Special ed is grossly underfunded and this needs to change.

    Reply
  33. Destiny Campbell

    I got this response back today from Muirhead “Thanks for your email, this is the TDSB official response:
    It has come to our attention that a blog post has been written without consent about a student at Muirhead PS. Please note, that this is not written by the child’s parents or TDSB staff, nor is it accurate. While we are very limited in what we can say publically due to privacy reasons, rest assured that the situation is not as it is portrayed. All decisions were made together with the family and in the child’s best interest. It’s our understanding that the child’s parents have asked the author to remove the post. At this point, it does not appear that they have been successful.

    Reply
    1. Heart Learning Centre Post author

      In response to that I wrote on their page:
      I am the author of the blog and in response to YOUR inaccuracy.
      I never claimed to be a TDSB staff or the parent. It is clear as day in my post that I am the child’s caregiver. I also hold a bachelor of education in Ontario.
      I have text messages from the parent saying they are fine with the blog but requested the picture changed- which I did.
      I did not use the name of the child nor mention the teacher and I have the right to express my disapproval for the choices made by Muirhead Ps so others can learn from this upsetting incident.
      I agree teachers and principals do a lot of wonderful things for our students and kids however this shouldn’t have happened in my opinion.
      I am not sure what is inaccurate? That I didn’t drop her at 10:30am when school starts at 8:40? That the parents texted me the reason was because ‘the teacher asked them to drop her at 10:30?’ That this is discrimination? If it isn’t why don’t you have a good reason as to why every other child in JK was invited to sing at the SK graduation for their friends?
      The parents did agree for the child to come late- but were unaware that they could say: no.

      Reply
      1. Destiny Campbell

        My response to them was “That blog post has been shared over seven thousand times in four days by many outraged parents both of children on the spectrum and those that are not, by parents who have children in that school, by those who are in the TDSB, by those who are in Ontario, Canada and as far as the USA. I am very aware and need not note of who this article is or is not written by, the author made it very clear that she was the caregiver and not the parent or staff. Whether it is accurate will be for the general public to determine since clearly you have no desire to comment aside from that you do not believe it to be accurate or as it is portrayed. There’s already been 2 popular News groups interested in running this story and many parents are emailing their local news along with this school, the superintendent and school trustee. I have a feeling you will need to do more convincing than this “official response” to calm down over 7000 and growing advocating parents.”

    2. LorI

      They have put their response ( cut and paste from the email you received) on the TDSB website as well. They are actively portraying you as a liar and offering no apologies.

      Reply
  34. Someone

    Cant be a real article. There are so many mistakes…how can this person be a teacher?

    There is probably a lot more to this story than we see. What if the kid has special needs or anxiety when it comes to assemblys? We dont know that either. Stop jumping to conclusions.

    Reply
    1. Heart Learning Centre Post author

      I am the author- and yes a teacher. I was so upset as to what happened when I wrote the article so I didn’t edit at the time however I am the teacher. I have corrected the mistakes so thank you for that. there are accommodations made for students with special needs as we’re lucky to live in a country that supports our kids regardless of their ability.

      Reply
      1. Laura

        Can you clarify what you mean by “I am the teacher”? Do you mean that you are a home daycare provider who once worked as a school teacher? Or are you an RECE at a centre? I’m unclear as to your role.

      2. Laura

        Can you please clarify what you mean when you state “I am the teacher”? Do you mean that you are a home childcare provider who was once a Ontario Certified Teacher (school teacher), or are you an RECE who works at a centre? I’m unclear of your role. Also RECE who work in Kindergarten classes in Ontario are not “helpers”, they are co-educators. The RECE, the teacher and the principal really did the right thing by not giving you too many details as you are not the parent, but rather an adult who was dropping off the child. For confidentiality reasons they did the right thing by not discussing the details of the child with you.

      3. Heart Learning Centre Post author

        I agree with privacy rules and respect them. The reason I asked the teacher, principal and EA was because it came natural to me to ask seeing all the other JK students going to school regular time. I was confused.

    2. ZP

      You are quite right, there is more to the story. The parents of the child were fully aware as to why the child was asked to come late as she does have anxiety issues. The parents of the child have even asked the author to take down this post. Seems to me the author who also runs a day care is trying to gain attention for herself and her day care.

      Reply
      1. Heart Learning Centre Post author

        not sure if you have a statement from the parents or have spoken to them? Correction on two things: parents were TOLD by the teacher to come late. Parents asked me to remove the picture on the blog which I did. I have two text messages from the parents stating that. Hopefully this incident doesn’t happen again at Muirhead.

  35. Carolina D'Angelo

    This was Kindergarten for crying out loud – my son had two autistic children in the class and they are in Grade 8 and both attended their graduation and everyone of the 29 children had a wonderful time – how disgusting that happened in 2015!!!!!

    Reply
  36. Pingback: TDSB School Asked My Austic Student Not to Attend Graduation | violettempest

  37. starbursteyes

    Reblogged this on Behind starburst eyes and commented:
    My heart aches for the lack of accommodations given to this child. To be blunt this type of attitude and discrimination is a big part of why I choose to homeschool. Children should feel that they are an important and included part of their environment (be it a classroom, a dance class, or whatever it is)

    Reply
  38. Susan Rannie

    I feel for this teacher, ECE and principal. All were lacking the strategies and school supports to include this student. It’s a systems problem. I am a special needs kindergarten teacher who supported her 8 students in an assembly today along with 4 other Tdsb teachers and EAs. A lot of thought and equipment was put into this support today including Hi Low chairs, a wagon, weighted lap snakes, fruit gummies, chews, head phones and three students needed frequent breaks. We do this because the students do not want to miss anything and we have a supportive school community, without the support I would have been in the classroom running the regular routine while the rest of the school celebrated.

    Reply
    1. Brenda

      FABULOUS all the “setting up for success” that took place for the kids in your class. It doesn’t happen everywhere. Those kids and family are lucky to have you and your team.

      Reply
    2. Josie

      Bottom line is that human rights were violated. If all of the muirhead employees put as much effort into planning to ensure a students right to education instead of commenting on this blog with nonsense this would be a non issue. Shame on Muirhead and shame on all who are defending the discrimanation. It may be you or your child next.

      Reply
  39. Ash

    I must say this is beyond disgusting and yet I am not at all surprised ad I have a child with a lil bit of a behavioural issue and have had no choice but to go above principles and superintendent too file complaints … Unfortunately some ppl don’t know what to do and just let it be… Please tdsb is B.S. And any issues please report it too the super of the school , keep all dates and complaints written down for your own reference , and nothing’s done go even higher too trustees even your MPP .. As a parent of a long time on going struggle with my son and issues with tdsb , don’t give up or let it go!!! Also my daughter just had grade 6 grad, which for some weird reason was held in the morning instead of in the evening like it has been every other year, so when approaching the principle of the school and asking why the change? Her response was ” well it’s grade 6 and considering the community we serve (meaning kids that live in Toronto community housing) she’s not too sure it’s a big deal as some may not even dress up… Wow are you kidding me, this is coming from ppl who teach and suppose to guide our children, and that’s also judgemental and discrimination, moreless saying they are not able to afford this celebration so they will celebrate it to minimal!!! Mind you all these kids were dressed to the T and looked wonderful! Screw TDSB

    Reply
    1. Sue

      The reason for morning instead of evening most likely had to do with work to rule, not area of the City.

      Reply
  40. Brenda

    How awful for her, her family and the peers she goes to school with. Good for you for calling it like it is! As someone who supports children with extra support needs in child care, I am ashamed for the school system and our profession, that this happened. I would have CLEARLY told the family their rights if I was supporting them. They will be MUCH better prepared for next year. Too bad you couldn’t have stayed with her there.

    Reply
  41. BrianForbesColgate

    Thank you for posting this. I have sent a note with a link to this page, to two programs at CBC Radio, and hope they will pick up on this, too.
    TDSB clearly needs a shake-up from top-to-bottom if the teacher and principal think this is appropriate behaviour. They don’t come to that state of mind on their own.

    Reply
  42. nancyhowson

    This is a problem that happens every year
    Solution set up a bank of volunteers
    Like myself who have experience working with these amazing kids to come and help so they can enjoy the celebration it should not have to be this way but if this is the excuse here is the solution

    Reply
  43. Mercedes

    This made me so Sad!!! I can’t believe how rude and uncaring!!! Tears flow down my cheek as I type this because I am another a a Beautiful autistic boy and treating her like she’s not worth anything breaks my heart! Different yes Less No!!!!!!! May God protect her and boy Karma will hit them soon! 😐😔

    Reply
  44. uthaya

    Now a days, the teachers and principles are acting very immature and i have so many stories that these teachers are doing at schools but you have to courage to come out and speak out. good for you.

    Reply
  45. pgzwicker

    Have shared on twitter and will continue to do and push for changes and accountability. This is unacceptable. We are humans beings not to be treated as anything other than or less. This type of behaviour has to stop!

    Thanks for speaking out. It’s not easy, I know that first hand. As you seen here even using the word Autistic can end up in very different views. I’m Autistic, it’s not separable from who I am – it’s not part of a puzzle, it’s the box that shows me the picture!

    Reply
  46. Amy

    This teacher and team should be ashamed…. We are supposed to support inclusion and that child has just as much right as any other child to be there….. If the school board is not providing enough EA support there are hundreds of great volunteers looking to help! These children and their families need to feel welcomed, embraced, and supported…. Not discluded and dismissed! – one disgusted teacher with several students with ASD

    Reply
  47. Mandee

    Please do not refer to early childhood educators as ECE helpers. I feel badly for this family as everyone else does however I believe attaching the entire school board to a one off horribly handled individual situation is completely unjust.

    Reply
    1. Kira

      How is it unjust? They want this swept under the rug, because their actions were completely disgusting and morally bankrupt. The only way change will happen is if it gets roared in like a lion!

      Reply
  48. Kim

    I’m so sorry to hear this happened. I have no idea what the reasoning is, but it can’t think of any reason at all! We have a student on the Autistic Spectrum in our FDK class of 33 and we wouldn’t dream of excluding him from anything, ever!

    As a side note, I am compelled to add, please do not refer to ECEs as “ECE helpers”. We are educators, trained professionals and an integral part of the team. Many of us have Degrees and are at the same level of education as the teachers (but teacher jobs are hard to come by at the moment). But even with a Diploma, we have specialized training for educating our youngest students. We call the students “helpers” when they help clean up spilled paint or set out an activity. Referring to us and thinking of us as helpers is insulting.

    Reply
  49. Kelly

    I can’t believe everyone is jumping on your side without knowing the facts. You’re a random woman with a blog who thinks it’s appropriate to be asking for information about a child that isn’t yours. A teacher should know better. You wouldn’t have done this if I found out you were nosing around about my child. It’s NONE of your business what did or didn’t happen and you had NO right to pull this stunt which is exactly what this is. You’re a busy body and need to get over yourself and get a life. A teacher should also know how to spell “autistic” ffs.

    Reply
    1. Bosslady

      @ Kelly, I am repulsed at your response. I hope you are not a teacher or have any contact with children. Attacking the blogger is the most ridiculous and immature thing to do. There is a huge issue here. Have you no concern for the future of our children and impact that this exclusion will have on all children? The fact is, the child was excluded and that was wrong. Nothing else matters.

      Reply
  50. Diana

    This story has reached the the South West of Australia. I have a special needs child, and this story hits hard! I’m seriously appalled. I hope the teachers and principal feel ashamed of themselves. Well done for bringing this to light, because too much goes on in the dark with our kids. Enough is enough.

    Reply
  51. Tricia-Lee Keller (@behaviouratplay)

    While I share a passion for ensuring the inclusion of all students in their community I am concerned about the breaking of confidentiality as there are too many details to identify this student (despite the pseudonym). JK student with autism at a named school – doesn’t take long for people to start recognizing who you are talking about.

    Reply
  52. Heba

    Really shocking and depressive news. Please mention the name of this school as there are many like this poor kid for new comers parents whom know nothing about schools so as not to have more victims. Does not deserve to be protected.

    Reply
  53. Victoria-Lynn Labreche

    This is honestly heartbreaking.. I cannot believe what they have done. I feel very upset. Teach seem to teach “equality” and “every student can and will be on a road to success” yet they not allow an autistic student to attend graduation? Teachers should honestly realize that their students look up to them for guidance and acceptance as well. As if students are not bullying one another, it’s almost like the staff and teachers are the bigger bullies! He has every right to be at that graduation just like the rest of them.

    Reply
  54. travelonlywithjodi

    Unfortunately, the Ministry of Education feels EA’S are not necessary to the successful integration of special needs students and have proposed an additional 3.2 Billion dollars in funding cuts from these types of programs in the TDSB. Teachers are striking to bring attention to the issue and yet the media is biased and reporting a Government agenda. Unless the public supports the Teachers, you will see more of this type of discrimination simply because the Government has removed the resources from the schools to accomodate special needs children.

    Reply
    1. Brittany Deane

      Thank you for your comments. It really bothers me to see the teacher and principal written off as these horrible, heartless people, when the reality is likely a lot more nuanced than that. While I am not defending the decisions made by the teacher and principal at this school, I nonetheless recognize that their decision needs to be considered in the context of there being a lack of resources and support to properly execute the policy of inclusion… this is a systemic issue – even the best teachers can only do so much when they have large class sizes, no support, and often no specific training in how to accommodate for various special learning needs. If inclusion is to become the norm in our public schools, than there needs to be more of an emphasis on these system-wide issues. Accountability really needs to be taken to the next level!

      Reply
  55. Mati

    This is a shame, as a teacher you re suppose to encourage positive behaviour and be a role model for your students. This teacher should be questioned for her actions. What happened to equality every student should be treated the same way but it is really sad to see that a lot of these teachers are taking advantage of their positions.

    Reply
  56. RHogan

    I wonder how often this little girl was excluded from other events during the school year that her family and caregiver weren’t aware of. I am confident she won’t be in the future! Good luck!

    Reply
  57. Learn your blogging etiquette

    Hi people , This is on CP24.com now and it has info that you really need to see . Dear Author of this ” article ” , just a little warning . You are now in hot water with TDSB and also the family for posting this without permission and false accusations . You way want to retract this article or delete it very soon . The family knows who you are so they are going to deal with you .

    To future bloggers , know your facts and permissions before publishing something like this .

    Reply
    1. Heart Learning Centre Post author

      Dear kw05842002, I would be very happy if the TDSB contacted me to show them the text messages I have from the dad that it was the teachers request for the child to come late, they haven’t. The family are my clients and were at my home yesterday thanking me for the information I provided them of their rights in the education system, confirmed they are okay with my blog and they will be speaking to the principal today.

      Reply
  58. Joseph Clark

    Why are you refusing to answer questions from CBC, the Toronto Star and CP24. They’ve all left requests in this comment section yet you remain silent. The longer you refuse to talk to the media the more people will font your version of events and might even begin to see it as a way for you to get attention for your for profit after school and summer programs at the school. Talk to the media and people will believe you

    Reply
    1. Heart Learning Centre Post author

      You are entitled to your opinion as to why I wrote this blog as all my other blogs about my experiences with my students. I have spoken to the media and the Toronto Star is actually one of the first media source (ask them to check their emails). I have spoken on the phone to Global News, CBC and many others. The media has expressed they would like footage of the family and the child. The family do not want attention drawn to their child and do not want to speak to the media. I am respecting their wishes and right to privacy. thank you.

      Reply
  59. Jenn

    I would like to forward this to Irwin Elman the Provincial Advocate. He will help heads to roll on this one.

    Reply
  60. Tharani

    Hi there: I read your blog 2 days ago and emailed the TDSB, and I received the same response everyone has received. I just replied to back to the email and thought I would share to know others are making noise to, since what you did was courageous and very commendable as a parent. Thank you…here is my response:

    “Thank you for the “cut and paste” response that has been circulated by TDSB. However, this issue is not about “consent”, this is about the actions of a teacher and principal of the TDSB. These educators decided it was OK to inform the parents that their child should attend school at 10:30am and not at the appropriate time. The author of the blog has posted a response to the TDSB Facebook Page – which I am sure you are aware of.

    On a side note, if this issue is about consent I would like to use an example of how this is not correct. If a criminal who commits an offence requests that witnesses provide consent to participate in legal proceedings, then something is completely wrong. To what I had read – the “blogger” clearly stated she was the caregiver who had witnessed inappropriate actions by the teacher and principal of Muirhead PS. As parents who rely on a caregiver to take care of my children, I can tell you one thing about them – caregivers become the persons who love our children and look at the best interest of them while us parents are not there. This caregiver witnessed inappropriate actions and decided to speak up. This was her right to do so. Therefore, let’s not portray someone who decided to speak up as a “liar” – because this is our right as Canadians to speak up when something is wrong.

    My next point: my initial request to the TDSB was to ensure that the actions that did take place were investigated. Since my initial email was a little vague, may I request that the TDSB provide an explanation as to the actions that took place prior to the 10:30am drop off. Did the teacher and principal present OPTIONS to the parents in this situation. If options were presented and the parents chose the option to bring the child at 10:30am, then I will leave this alone. However, based on the information it seems that no options were presented.

    As a daughter of immigrant parents – I will let the TDSB know a little more about the sensitivity of these claims. Children of immigrant parents at a certain age become the educators to their immigrant parents – I was one of them. Now I am an adult and parent with 2 children, where if I was presented in this situation now, I would have appreciated and requested options to be presented since it is my children’s right to be educated in Canada. Immigrant parents put much trust in educators – since they believe they know better. I think the teacher and principal at Muirhead school took advantage of these parents, which resulted in a child being left behind. Further, the actions of the teacher and principal created a message to other students in this school – “it is ok to not include children with autism in activities because they are disruptive”. I would never teach my children this – nor would I EVER expect educators to do so.

    In conclusion, as a parent and a tax payer – we rely on the TDSB to ensure the correct persons are apart of our public school system. Therefore, I suggest the TDSB provide a little bit more clarity in this situation, because this blog will not be deleted and swept under the carpet. Please note the the following individuals have been ccd: on this email to hold the TDSB a little bit more accountable: school board trustee and superintendent for Muirhead PS, Minister of Education in Ontario, and the Toronto Star. If you have any questions about this response, please feel free to contact me at anytime.”

    Reply
    1. Heart Learning Centre Post author

      Thank you so much for support. I really wish the TDSB would do an investigation, they have not even contacted anyone outside the school. My concern was also that there were no options and it was the teachers choice. very sad. thank you again for sharing your letter – it will help many new Canadians and kids know better so we can do better.

      Reply
  61. Laura

    I just looked up your business to get a clearer picture of your role in this child’s life. Your centre and camp look wonderful!! That being said, the hours listed are all after school hours so I’m just wondering how it came to be that this child was in your care in the morning and that you took her to school, what a wonderful service to be able to offer to parents….even a “late to school drop off.”

    But, it does reinforce to me that you are the owner/staff of a Centre and the staff at the school did the right thing by not breaching confidentiality (as the owner of a child care/camp business, you should know all about this), they have with the student and her family.

    Reply
    1. Heart Learning Centre Post author

      thank you Laura and I agree with you 100% on privacy. We’re not open in the morning however I do provide clients who are in need that service irregularly. My question was asked because I thought there may be a reason for her coming late outside of private matters such as her needs.

      Reply
  62. Joseph Clark

    Here’s an actual comment from a parent at the school about this incident and it doesn’t seem to line up with your interpretation.

    “As a parent who is very involved in this school I can tell you that this blog was written by a person who is NOT doing this in the best interest of this child or her family. The family does not agree with this spin on events and has asked the blog be removed and their request is not being met. Shame on the blogger for saying that because the parents are new comers to canada that they do not know their rights. The parents of this child are actively involved with the school and the community to meets the needs of their child.

    The student in question has not even been diagnosed (this diagnosis was put out there by the person who wrote the blog) and since this is a teacher forum I don’t have to explain that this results in no EA allotted for this child. The school has a high percentage of students with special needs and have made every attempt to provide the student with support that is required for her to attend school and events on a daily basis – which means shuffling teachers, EA’s and ECE’s in order to do so.

    Sadly, the only way to defend what was done is to divulge the child’s issues which is inappropriate.

    I also feel that the avenue that was taken to address this issue is a poor choice. If she is really a teacher then she should know there are avenues that should have been taken but instead she went straight to social media – which again makes no sense. After seeing what one person can do to entire community through social media has made me extremely sad.”

    Btw my friends in media said they usually are more than happy to interview without getting footage of the child or parents. You could easily do cbc radio as well.

    Reply
    1. Heart Learning Centre Post author

      again i’m respecting the privacy of the parents regarding television and this article is to raise awareness to this unfortunate decision made by the teacher as who know what would come next? the parents came to my home yesterday to thank me for providing them with more information and confirmed they have nothing against my writing. they are taking it up with the principal and they confirmed that they didn’t know they had options that day. Perhaps this is an opportunity here for Muirhead to get more support with teachers, EA’s knowing that they are having difficulty? I would ask this parent: if this were your child, how would you feel about him/her coming late while everyone else in on time?

      Reply
  63. Shar ladouceur

    As a mom witha child with special needs I agree this is not right at all . being that she is new to the country have you talked to themn about getting there daughter a children advocte lawer we had to do that so our child was given a voice that they couldnt push around … Also with children advoicate lawers they go above schools principals and go right to the school bords and at that point stuff gets done .. my son was told this year he was no longer allowed to takle the bus with all his friends and that we were gonna have to deal with getting him back anhd forth to school and we dont live close to any of the school my sons lawer worked with the school bord and in 3 days had us a private van that they provided us to take him back and forth . tell thyem to look into iot bc it really helps

    Reply
  64. Winston Ashe

    So let me get this straight we have kids still in school who beat and tease autistic students, and they get to stay in school, but because you do NOT KNOW HOW TO DO YOUR JOB AS TEACHERS. This child has to miss school!! SMH!!

    Reply
  65. Samantha

    I have no evidence that this little girl is of African descent, but one can only assume because of the cover photo and the comparison to South Carolina. But this is an outrageous display of discrimination. Not only racially, but upon a child who knows nothing better than…being a child. I googled where Muirhead PS and that neighbourhood has a variety of different ethnic backgrounds and religions so teachers here (and should be everywhere) should be accommodating to those who are recent immigrants and those who look different. In regards to autism, they could’ve made different arrangements for the child if she was to get out of hand or act out during this ceremony. The child deserves not only to be respected, but also to be recognized for her accomplishments ie her graduation. I reach out to the author of this blog, please take this further than just this blog. It needs to be seen and heard by a wider audience to let these teachers know, this is absolutely unacceptable! This child may not know any different, thinking you took her on an adventure today but nothing compares to be able to stand in front of that podium and be saluted for your achievements…which this little girl never got to do.

    Reply
  66. Pingback: A blog post is not professional journalism - Autism Daily Newscast

  67. sonya

    I wonder what the teachers side of the story is. This all seems discriminatory but is it possible this was suggested as a course of action for the benefit of this student as well as the other students?

    Reply
  68. Stacey Malaret

    I am so sorry this happened. I live in Florida with a son who has ASD. If you need any support please let me know.

    Reply
  69. Bobby Ho

    I went to Muirhead PS when I was a child, and I am currently working with individuals diagnosed with ASD. It’s extremely disappointing to hear that the school is not as accommodating and accepting as it used to be. This never would have happened if my kindergarten teacher was still teaching the class.

    Reply
  70. Lyssa

    I am glad that you did what you could and stood up for what you believe in. I see people back down way to much, which is why we continue to struggle today.

    Reply
  71. rjuned

    If I were you, I would see about reporting this as a human rights violation. I would also try to find resources for the parent to help him understand his daughter’s rights.

    Reply
  72. Gigi

    In an educational setting it is important to have a child participate in activities and or special events a s appropriate. Perhaps there was a reason that the school and the parents agreed that this eent would not be a positive experience for the JK student. Children with autism react and respond to events differently. I don’t know the child. Don’t know the severity of iher autism or if she has sensory issues. Don’t be quick to vilify the school without knowing all the details.

    Reply

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