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MONTREAL, MARCH 30, 2005- Following extensive consultation, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has adopted a new Special Education Policy, in which its objective is to provide and organize educational services to students with special needs Ė whether they have handicaps, social maladjustments or learning disabilities Ė with the hope of integrating them into regular classroom settings.

"It is the fundamental right of every child to receive quality educational services which will foster his or her overall development and promote the realization of his or her full potential," said Lew Lewis, director of Student Services for the EMSB. "The Board will make every reasonable effort to ensure that the appropriate resources are in place to promote the integration of students with special needs in a regular class."

The Student Services Department will be responsible for the implementation, dissemination, monitoring and evaluation of the policy which is geared towards all eligible special needs students at the pre-school, elementary and secondary levels. Students will be placed in schools as close as possible to their homes. The organization of the required special needs educational services shall be based on the individual evaluation of the abilities and needs of the student in question, as well as the available financial resources.

For new students, parents will apply to the school in question according to the normal enrollment policy of the Board. Parents are responsible for informing the principal if their child participated in any previous special education programs and/or has been identified by a professional as having special needs. All data collected by the principal will be forwarded to either a school psychologist or guidance counsellor for further examination. A case conference is then held to identify the studentís special needs, determine the appropriate services for the student, as well as identify the recommended school placement.

The actual integration of a special needs student into a regular class will take place if it complies with the policy in terms of evaluation, integration and the development of the studentís Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and if it will facilitate the studentís learning and social integration and not impose an excessive constraint or specifically undermine the rights of other students. The Board is responsible for establishing a network of support services for both students and teachers, which includes, for example, services of a resource teacher or child care worker, services for visually or hearing impaired children, provision of adapted teaching materials, use of specialized equipment, peer tutoring and homework assistance. The principal will identify the appropriate support services according to the needs of each student and teacher in consultation with in-school and Student Services personnel.

Professionals from the Student Services Department will be available to assist in-school personnel with the successful integration of special needs students into regular classroom settings and activities. As well, both the Students Services and Pedagogical Services departments will provide the means to help principals and teachers to further develop and enhance their skills to more effectively meet the needs of the students. In the event that a such an integration is unsuccessful, the Board will provide the student with educational services in an alternative setting, with the hope of eventually reintegrating the student back into a regular classroom setting. It can range from a self-contained special education class, a special education school or home tutoring, This will be determined by an evaluation of the studentís abilities and needs.

The EMSBís Special Education Policy has been adopted in accordance with section 235 of the Education Act, which prescribes that every school board adopt a policy to ensure the harmonious integration of special needs students into regular classroom settings and school activities.

Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213