Support Hannah Gunderson

Alberta Association for Community Living

Press Release Edmonton June 23, 2009 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

School District Discriminates Against Child with Disabilities

The Alberta Association for Community Living (AACL) is appalled to find that Elk Island Public Schools is discriminating against Hannah Gunderson, a young girl with disabilities, by forcing her to be segregated from her friends, against the wishes of her parents and her school community, when she travels to school. In effect Elk Island School District is punishing a child with disabilities and separating her from her friends because she is unable to walk. At a time when Alberta Education has just completed a review of special education that calls for every student with special needs to belong and be included, Elk Island is instituting regressive practices that deny Hannah the right to be included. As a student with disabilities who cannot easily defend herself Hannah needs her friends to ensure her safety and protection. The research evidence is unequivocal in that segregation increases the risk of abuse and violence against children with disabilities. Elk Island Public Schools is increasing Hannah’s risk of harm by forcing her to be involuntarily segregated from her friends and classmates. Until this forthcoming school year Hannah was included on the same bus as her friends, traveling to school together and sharing in all the experiences of her peers as she grows up with them. This coming school year, without consultation with her parents, the Elk Island District unilaterally altered Hannah’s busing to her detriment. The School District and its Trustees have refused to reconsider this decision ruining a young child’s summer and that of her family as they anxiously consider a future where Hannah is deprived of the ordinary relationships most other families take for granted. Wendy McDonald, AACL President and a parent of a student with disabilities who is fully included, stated, “As a parent of a child with disabilities I know how hurtful this must be to Hannah and her family. As an Association representing many thousands of families with children with disabilities I call upon the Elk Island School District to demonstrate its capacity to listen, change and respond to the cries of a young child with disabilities.”

ACTION:

Help us change the mind and hearts of the Elk Iskand Public Schools Administration and Board of Trustees. Please send an email, write or call all of the following and copy AACL at mail@aacl.org or fax 780.453.5779. You can also follow Hannah’s story on http://edmonton.ctv.ca/ where you can provide comments.
Elk Island Public Schools
Central Administration Building
683 Wye Road
Sherwood Park, AB T8B 1N2
Phone: 780.464.3477
Fax: 780.417-8181
Toll Free: 1.800.905.3477
Elk Island Public Schools Board of Trustees: Bonnie Riddell, Chair
Phone: 780.417.8200
Fax: 780.417.8181
Mr. Dave Quest, MLA
Legislature Office
#503 Legislature Building
10800 – 98 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Phone: 780.415.0990
Fax: 780.422.0351
Mr. Quest’s Constituency Office
#168, 2301 Premier Way
Sherwood Park, AB T8H 2K8
Phone: 780.416.2492
Fax: 780.416.7093
Mr. Dave Hancock, Minister of Education
Legislature Office
#224 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Phone: 780.427.5010
Fax: 780.427.5018
Mr. Hancock’s Constituency Office
#203, 596 Riverbend Square
Edmonton, AB T6R 2E3
Phone: 780.413.5970
Fax: 780.413.5971
Hannah and her parents Dave and Cathy Gunderson thank you for your support!
Bruce Uditsky, Chief Executive Officer
Alberta Association for Community Living (AACL)
11724 Kingsway, Edmonton, AB T5G 0X5
Tel. 780.451.3055 ext 228; Toll-Free 1.800.252.7556
Fax 780.453.5779 Cell 780.940.4269
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