The York Region District School Board (YRDSB) has announced its intention to end its decades-long relationship with Giant Steps, a school that delivers a unique combination of teaching, therapy, and inclusion for children with autism. The board plans to move students from the specialized school to its own regular special needs classrooms.
The decision prompted a group of frustrated parents to protest on October 16th at the YRDSB offices in Aurora.
“We’re inundated with messages about youth and mental health,” said Alexander Repetski whose daughter is a student at Giant Steps. “Behavioural therapies for autism should be considered essential services from a mental health perspective. My daughter Gwen has improved in so many skill sets since attending Giant Steps, and she’s there because regular special education classes didn’t work for her. Sending her back will be disastrous.”
Giant Steps will continue to provide education for its current YRDSB autistic students until June 30, 2021 at which time the YRDSB funding will end.
“With the removal of funding for our academic program and our facility, Giant Steps will be forced to close,” says Joanne Scott-Jackson, Development Director of Giant Steps.