Court Rules Treatment for Autistic Children a Provincial Government Responsibility
Toronto, April 4, 2005 - In her ruling today, Madam Justice Frances Kitely identified the Ontario Provincial Government as the body responsible for the provision of treatment for autistic children, not school boards. The Government must now determine its course of action in response to the judgement before any action can occur at the School Board level.
In February of this year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) decided that school boards are not responsible for providing autistic children with costly intensive behavioural intervention therapy. The decisions signed by chief commissioner Keith Norton, the human-rights agency said it will not allow the matter to proceed to a public hearing before a tribunal because the treatment falls under the jurisdiction of the education, health and long-term care, and children and youth services ministries, not under the jurisdiction of the school boards. The decisions said that the therapy -- a structured, rigorous and labour-intensive treatment -- "is not appropriate in the classroom because IBI treatment requires a clinical setting." The decisions of the OHRC are consistent with other decisions of the Ontario Special Education Tribunal.
School Boards will await the decision of the Minister of Education before initiating changes to their special education plans and making program changes.
In the interim, consistent with rulings from OHRC and the Ontario Special Education Tribunal, Rick Johnson, president of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association said, "School Boards will continue to do what we do best, provide a full range of appropriate services for all students with special needs."
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