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Woman left in dark about her foster daughter’s class transfer

Additional resources: Diallo Rabain, Minister of Education and Workforce Development (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A woman has claimed her foster daughter’s school tried to transfer the child to a learning support class without consultation.

She said she refused to allow the move and the girl stayed in a mainstream class after her doctor recommended the seven-year-old remain in as normal a setting as possible.

The woman dropped her daughter at Prospect Primary School on the first day of the new term in September and expected her to go into her mainstream class with help from a teaching support worker, a paraeducator.

She later found the child was to be put in a learning support class instead and claimed she had been given no answers from the school or Ministry of Education on why the girl was to be moved and who made the decision.

The woman said: “When I took her to school, there was a class of children with challenges — they call it a functional skills class which doesn’t suit my child. I was upset and told the para she is not going in to it.

“The principal, Holly Richardson, told me that my child wasn’t going to be in the class all day and I said she wasn’t going to be in that class at all. They never contacted me or the biological mom.”

The woman said her foster daughter suffered from seizures, but had not had any for a year.

The youngster also has some sight and hearing problems and her brain does not process protein, which means her learning is a year behind other youngsters her age.

The woman said that a letter from her doctor given to the education authorities said that the child should stay in a regular class as her paraeducator used teaching methods that matched the girl’s abilities.

Dr Richard Fulton, a consultant paediatrician, wrote: “I will always defer to experts in education, but I do support the child remaining in a mainstream class as much as possible.”

A meeting was later held involving the foster mother, the biological mother, the Department of Child and Family Services and the Ministry of Education.

The foster mother said she was also told the girl’s paraeducator was to be changed.

She said: “My child didn’t have a para for three days. Then, she was assigned a temporary para and now she has another para.”

The woman said she was so worried about the girl, she asked if she could be transferred to West Pembroke Primary School, but was told there was no room.

She added she was also told by an education ministry representative that the girl had an IQ of less than 70.

The woman said she contacted Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, another representative from the ministry, as well as Diallo Rabain, the education minister, and David Burt, the Premier, to get answers to her questions about the class change.

The woman added: “I said, I am frustrated with this whole situation. The principal at Prospect Primary has not even contacted me to tell me how my child is making out with this whole ordeal, if there is any change in her behaviour. Nothing.

“They are clearly showing me that they don’t have my child’s best learning interests at heart.

“Somebody step in and help me out. I feel like an outcast going through all of this.”

She said: “I still don’t know who had a meeting to place my child in that class. Still no meeting with the school to know the plan for my child to discuss what they will be working on. And still no answers on the report on my child’s IQ.”

A ministry spokeswoman said: “The Department of Education has met several times, and responded to the concerns raised by this parent. Additional resources have also been put in place for the student.

“The department will continue to support any parent who has concerns regarding their child’s education and learning requirements.”

The spokeswoman added: “The department is not positioned to disclose any further particulars about this matter, but will continue to work with the family.”