Supreme Court decision confirms equal access to education for students with severe learning disabilities

Earlier this month the Supreme Court of Canada released a landmark decision that held that severe learning disabled students are entitled to the same access to education as students without disabilities. The court also ruled that in times of fiscal restraint, special needs programs cannot be first on the chopping block. The court confirmed that school districts and government are required to accommodate the needs of students with severe learning disabilities, unless they can show undue hardship.

The Community Legal Assistance Society represented the Moore family who have been fighting for fifteen years for the rights of learning disabled children. In Grade 3, their son Jeffrey Moore was identified by a school psychologist as having one of the most severe learning disabilities she had ever seen. Jeffrey was referred to the Diagnostic Center 1 (DC1) a long standing program that provided intensive remediation to teach severe learning disabled students literacy skills. As soon as Jeffrey was referred to DC1, the school district closed it due to funding restraints and told the Moore's that they should put Jeffrey into private school.

The B. C. Human Rights Tribunal found the government and school district discriminated against Jeffery Moore by failing to provide him a public service, the same access to education provided to all students. They ordered that the Moores be compensated for tuition costs and injury to dignity. After two appeals, the Supreme court has now upheld the original Tribunal decision which should be a victory for all learning disabled students.