Two Edmonton area parents claim their son, who has a brain injury, had his human rights violated by his former school.
Stu and Susan Jobb said their son Christopher – who is now 16 – was forced to pick up garbage in what was billed as “recycling” education.
They allege it was only the special needs kids at Graminia School, west of Edmonton, who were involved.
Stu Jobb said during the 2011-2012 school year, a school official phoned and asked if they would “mind terribly if [Christopher] collected garbage and sorted the teacher’s mail.”
Jobb described the question as “quite shocking.” He said he and his wife made it “quite clear we wouldn’t want that to happen.”
They wanted their son to be able to live independently by the time he was an adult and the Jobbs pushed to get Christopher into optional classes like cooking, but were told those were all full.
Later that year, Christopher told the Jobbs he was “recycling” at school.
“He didn’t like it,” Stu Jobb said. “But he didn’t complain. That’s not his nature.”
Wendy Cathey said her daughter did complain, although she didn’t understand what was happening until the Jobbs called her.
Cathey said her daughter, Haley, who also is a special needs student, helped Christopher.
“They ended up doing all the recycling and Hailey said she hated it and she was embarassed,” Cathey said. “Near the end there, it got to where she didn’t want to go to school. She’d come home crying every day.”
Cathey doesn’t believe the recycling was a formal class. She said, “I think they were just looking for things to keep them busy. I was like, “Why weren’t they in woodworking, home-ec or cooking?’”
The Jobbs have filed a human-rights complaint related to the situation. Their case is currently being heard by a human rights tribunal.
Stu Jobb said he felt compelled to take this complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
“It’s Every child’s right not to be segregated and made to perform menial tasks in front of their peers,” he said.
Kate Engel is the Jobbs’ lawyer and is arguing the case before a tribunal.
“I think it’s important, not only to the Jobbs, but to other students who have disabilities,” Engel said.
An official from Parkland School Division said the organization is cooperating with the human rights hearing but he argues there are no grounds for this complaint.
“In Parkland School Division’s opinion, no discrimination has occurred,” Jordi Weidman told Global News.
Weidman did not talk about the specifics of the Jobbs’ complaint. He did talk about the way the school division develops special-needs programming.
“A whole team of educators and parents and divisional supports come together and come up with a plan for a student and that’s what would’ve happened in this case,” Weidman said.
The human rights hearing resumes Monday.
Christoper now attends a private school in Vancouver.
His parents say they hope a decision in their favour would send all school divisions a message on how special needs students should be treated.
They also want the tribunal to require the transfer of Christopher’s special needs funding to his new private school.