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New Westminster school board has approved a comprehensive special education review

The New Westminster school district will soon embark on a comprehensive review of its special education programs and services.
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After a flurry of discussion, New Westminster school trustees voted four to three to approve a motion to send a letter to the Ministry of Education urging the minister to hold byelections in Vancouver and North Okanagan-Shuswap.

The New Westminster school district will soon embark on a comprehensive review of its special education programs and services.

The board of education gave the green light to a proposal presented by trustee Maya Russell at a committee meeting this week. The review will be a full-scale investigation into the district’s special education system, Russell said.

“I am so excited to be putting this forward,” she told fellow trustees.

“In New Westminster we have great schools, we’ve got great teachers and wonderful staff, and we have exceptional students. We have, I think, a big opportunity to serve our students better in the area of special education.”

Russell said she has heard from parents of students with special needs about concerns they have with programs and services offered to their children. Some experiences have been so bad that families have opted to pull their students from the district all together.

“I think there is substantive issues, there’s training, there’s quality, there’s evidence, there’s evaluation, and I think underneath all of it there’s, in some cases, really broken relationships between families of students with special needs and schools and a real lack of trust, and that’s not where any of us want it to be. We want to change that,” Russell said.

Trustee Mary Lalji agreed.

“I think that every motion that addresses student need not only deserves, but requires, support from the board,” she said.

While the review was supported unanimously, it won’t get started right away.

Instead trustees have directed superintendent Karim Hachlaf to put together an implementation plan to help shape the review. It’ll also include a monetary component outlining what effect the review will have on the 2019/20 budget.



  • Examination of the district’s tiered service delivery model, learning services handbook, policies and administrative procedures,
  • Gathering and analysis of available data from a wide range of district sources
  • Research on promising practices and the evidence base from other jurisdictions
  • District-wide consultation plan to learn from parents and caregivers, students, teachers, staff and interested community organizations
  • Review in-service opportunities to support staff development
  • Formation of a review advisory group
  • Plan for ongoing consultation and engagement
  • Alignment with the district’s mission to enable each student to learn in a safe, engaging and inclusive environment