Oct 30, 2015

Summary of Moore v British Columbia (Education)

Moore v. British Columbia (Education), 2012 SCC 61, [2012] 3 SCR 360

Human rights – discrimination – disability

Human Rights Code, RSBC 1996, c 210

J was a person with severe learning disabilities. The school district told J’s parents he needed intensive remedial help, but closed the only centre where he could get it. A private school was their only option. J’s father filed a discrimination complaint. The tribunal found in his favour, and ordered reimbursement for the private tuition costs. Their decision was reversed on appeal, and the BCCA upheld the reversal.

Held, the tribunal’s decision was mostly right; the individual orders stand. The stated purpose of the School Act is to ensure all learners have an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to contribute to society (recognizing that a healthy democracy and economy require educated contributions). Adequate special education is not dispensable. For people with severe learning disabilities, it is the only way to meaningfully access education. The district failed to consider how the needs of students like J might be met. There was no needs-based analysis, nor were there any assessments, to consider reasonable alternatives to accommodate special needs learners. Budgetary considerations are not the only ones. Remedial programs necessary for students with special needs to access core curriculum outvalue discretionary mainstream programming.