Special Report of the Québec Ombudsman - For services adapted to the needs of students with social maladjustments or learning disabilities

Following an investigation into access to educational services that meet the needs of public school students, the Québec Ombudsman has issued 11 recommendations to the Ministère de l'Éducation du Québec (MÉQ). We present them in this article.

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The Ombudsman, Marc-André Dowd, released the investigation report The student comes first, which provides a portrait of the supply, organization, and financing of complementary educational services for elementary school students with social maladjustments or learning disabilities (SED). Following an investigation into access to educational services that meet the needs of students in the public system, the Québec Ombudsman issued the following statement 11 recommendations to the Ministère de l'Éducation du Québec (MÉQ).

The Québec Ombudsman noted a lack of consistency between the real needs of students and the resources available to meet them, as well as a significant risk that students' rights to the complementary educational services they require are not being respected. These services, which include remedial education, psycho-education, speech therapy, special education, and psychology, make it possible to integrate AAC students into regular classes.

For more information, see the Highlights of the report or read the entire investigation report: The student comes first: for services adapted to the needs of students with special needs or learning difficulties.


List of recommendations

The Québec Ombudsman recommends that the Ministère de l'Éducation du Québec :

1- To develop, in collaboration with school organizations, a mechanism for monitoring vacancies for professional and support staff offering complementary educational services, allowing, in particular:

- The development and implementation of measures to enhance and fill these positions;

- The development of a strategy to ensure that students have access to needed services in a timely manner.

2- To prepare, in collaboration with the school community, a guide for the development and implementation of intervention plans that will, among other things, emphasize the various ways in which parents and students can participate in the development and monitoring of their IEP, depending on their particular situation.

3- To develop, with school stakeholders, a national reference framework on the roles and responsibilities of the various positions in educational services, including, among other things, the development and monitoring of intervention plans, multidisciplinary teamwork and the provision of complementary educational services.

4- To develop, in collaboration with its partners in the school network, stakeholders and actors in the school community, an offer of continuing education activities based on the needs of teachers in relation to the needs of ACD students.

5- Determine, in collaboration with its partners in the school network, stakeholders, experts and actors in the school community, the modalities and means of making continuing education activities related to AAC students accessible to teachers, while basing the evaluation of their relevance, timeliness and effectiveness on evidence and on the needs of teachers.

6- Review the funding model for complementary educational services and the accountability procedures, by setting up a working group with experts and stakeholders in the school network. Funding should be based on the real needs of students with special needs.

R-7 To ensure, once the new funding model is adopted :
- Educate school organizations on these directions to ensure understanding of
community;
- To accompany school organizations in the implementation of these new frameworks.

8- When reviewing the funding model, ensure that it meets the needs of students from disadvantaged backgrounds who attend schools in advantaged or less disadvantaged areas.

9- Establish, following consultations with the various players in the educational community, experts and stakeholders and after analysis of the evidence, a minimum threshold of services offered to students with special needs across the province. This threshold should ensure that every elementary school student can receive the services he or she needs at the appropriate time, regardless of the school organization or the school they attend.

10- Ensure that funding for the minimum threshold of services is predictable and sustainable.

11- To ensure that the minimum threshold of services can vary according to the prevalence of students' special needs and be indexed according to system costs, while respecting the evidence and findings from the school environment.


Follow-up of recommendations

The Québec Ombudsman requests that the Ministère de l'Éducation send it, by September 1, 2022, a work plan indicating the actions chosen and the proposed timetable for implementing each of the recommendations in this report.

The Québec Ombudsman also asked the Ministère de l'Éducation to follow up on the status of implementation of the recommendations by January 30, 2023, and thereafter according to a schedule to be agreed upon.

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