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School Board Re-commits to Accessibility Plan

Thursday September 10 2009
By ASHLEY GOODFELLOW

Public schools in Peel will move toward greater accessibility in accordance with a provincial act to make Ontario barrier-free, pledged the school board at its Sept. 8 meeting.

Recent criticism of the Peel District School Board’s lack of action on approving a plan to address accessibility issues prompted the board to bolster efforts and get back on track.

David Croome, a former member of Peel board’s Special Education Advisory Committee and now a community member of the board’s Accessibility Working Group, recently pressed the board on its failure to approve a plan for the 2008/2009 school year.

Peel Board education director Jim Grieve admitted the Accessibility Working Group (AWG) lost momentum on planning efforts, citing financial resources and
logistics as the reasons. The board’s most current plan was approved for the 2007/1008 school year.

However, the board is now committing to make accessibility a priority, and other staff members with project responsibilities related to accessibility will supplement the work of the trimmed-down AWG.

“The group has been re-jigged,” said trustee Steve Kavanagh, “and I have confidence the new staff will bring accountability and responsibility with them.”

As well, the board set aside roughly $1 million in its 2009/2010 budget to address financial needs to implement new standards set out by the province.

“We’re serious,” said Grieve at the Sept. 8 meeting.

Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the province is aiming to make the province accessible for people with disabilities, by 2025, through various standards for the public and private sector. The act was passed into law June 2005 and is being implemented in stages.

School boards and others will have to establish policies, practices and procedures on providing goods or services to people with disabilities. The private sector has until 2012.

In May, the province launched an independent review of the act and is seeking public input. More information is available on the Ministry of Community and Social Services Web site at www.mcss.gov.on.ca.

Reproduced from http://www.northpeel.com/news/article/75990

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