Gloucester boy ‘falling through cracks’ at school

Leland Warren has been at home, instead of school, for more than a week.

The autistic seven-year-old isn’t receiving enough support from the public board to accommodate him, his mother told the Sun.

“I’ve made it clear, they need to find a solution,” said Debra Warren of Gloucester.

“They’re not fit to deal with Leland’s needs.”

Leland functions at the level of a two or three-year-old, she said, and is enrolled at Queen Elizabeth PS, near St. Laurent Blvd. and Montreal Rd., where he’s in Grade 2.

“The sad part is, across the hall from his class is a specialized program for autistic children,” said Warren.

Leland was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, said Warren — specifically DSM-5.

He doesn’t qualify for the specialized class, because, Warren said, “he speaks very well … to them, he’s fine.”

School staff are pegging Leland’s as behavioural, said Warren, even throwing around attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a cause.

“They keep calling me to pick him up every time there is an undesirable behaviour, despite me telling them I cannot lose my job,” said Warren.

The school has proposed Leland attend for three hours each day, from 9 a.m. until noon, she said, adding Nov. 13 was Leland’s last day in class.

Olga Grigoriev, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board’s superintendent of learning support services, wouldn’t comment on Warren’s case, calling autism “a complex exceptionality.”

Along with medical documentation, “we absolutely rely on what the parent tells us,” said Grigoriev.

In addition, “we do need a collaborative relationship,” she said.

The Warren family moved to Ottawa from the Prescott-Russell area about two years ago in the hopes of finding resources and options for Leland.

He was initially with the Catholic board, then made the switch this school year.

“It’s a process,” said Grigoriev.

“It’s not a quick fix.”

There’s no wait list for special education programs geared to children with autism, Grigoriev confirmed.

Nonetheless, Warren is now exploring legal action.

“It’s a really outrageous story,” lawyer Kevin Butler, adding, “somehow, he’s falling through the cracks.”

“He has a right to go to school,” Butler said.

Warren said she just wants her son placed in a supportive environment where he can learn.

Special streams in the public system:

Who qualifies for specialized programs?

We follow the tiered intervention approach and when schools have been unable to successfully support the children in experiencing success in collaboration, and with the support of parents/care givers, it may be appropriate to consider admission to a specialized program.

Which schools offer such programs?

We currently have 35 specialized classes (K-12) serving 192 students.

Is there a waiting list at any school?

As a result of our move to a geographic model for autism classes, there are currently no children on the waitlist for ASD. There are no children on the waitlist for DD classes.

Source: OCDSB

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