Currently, there are no AODA education standards. However, two AODA standards development committees have drafted recommendations of guidelines that AODA education standards should include. One committee has recommended guidelines for the kindergarten to grade twelve (K-12) education system. In this article, we outline recommended improvements for Identification, Placement, and Review Committees (IPRCs).
Improvements for Identification, Placement, and Review Committees
Identification, Placement, and Review Committees (IPRCs) determine the most appropriate placement for a child who needs support in school. While some students learn at their neighbourhood schools, others attend more accessible schools locally or elsewhere in Ontario. Each school board has its own IPRC that determines placements for each student on an individual basis. In addition, IPRCs can recommend possible programs and services to support a student within their placement. However, an IPRC cannot make decisions about these programs or services. Instead, students and their families must use a separate process to identify appropriate programs and services. If a family disagrees with the IPRC’s placement decision, the family can appeal to the Special Education Appeal Tribunal.
The K-12 Education Standards Development Committee reports that the rules governing IPRCs are now outdated. For example, IPRCs only support students with “exceptionalities”, not students with disabilities under the AODA and the Ontario Human Rights Code. As a result, less than half of current Ontario students with individual education plans (IEPs) have consulted their IPRC. Moreover, families who do consult their IPRCs find the process complex, but not timely. In other words, many students today do not find IPRCs relevant or useful. Therefore, the Committee recommends a review of the IPRC process, to decide whether to update or discard this form of assessment.
Reviewing the Use of Identification, Placement, and Review Committees
A panel of reviewers should examine the rules and processes families follow when consulting an IPRC. For instance, this panel should include:
- Students and other individuals with disabilities
- Staff who represent the:
- School board
- Ministry of Education
After reviewing the IPRC process, the panel should decide whether the process needs to be:
- Retained in its current form
- Replaced by a different process
If the panel decides to re-design the process, the improved process should be fair and consistent throughout the province. It should meet students’ needs for accessible schooling in a timely manner. Moreover, the process should determine not only placement, but programs and services. Clear definitions of all these terms will help all students, staff, and parents involved in the process work together toward its purpose. Students or their parents should have time to carefully consider the options available for placements, programs, and services. If they wish to appeal any decisions about placements, programs, or services, a tribunal should hear appeals about any of these concerns.