Cliff Cullen, MLA
Room 168 Legislative Building
Winnipeg MB R3C 0V8
An Open Letter to Cliff Cullen, Manitoba's Minister of Education
February 10, 2021
To the Honourable Minister Cliff Cullen,
As I did not receive a response from your office to my email of January 31, 2021, I am now trying an open letter in the hopes that this will bring better results.
I imagine this is a very busy time for your office, so I will give the benefit of the doubt that perhaps they are too overwhelmed with Covid planning to address our very serious and very real concerns.
As newly appointed Minister of Education, I ask that you please review our blog post, What "Inclusive Education" REALLY means to Parents of Children with Disabilities. It contains a summary of desperate pleas from parents and caregivers of children with disabilities whose children are in Manitoba’s decidedly not inclusive, under-funded, and under-resourced public education system.
As you will have read in the personal experience I shared and sent to the Minister's office in July and September of 2020, and again in January 2021: My son was only 5 and 6 years old when he was scape-goated, labelled, targeted, excluded, blamed and shamed… and this was by school administration, not other children.
He experienced this horrendous treatment for two long years, from the ages of 5 through 7, until we finally were able to find a better school with compassionate and competent staff and educators.
He is now 8 years old and, although he is now thriving in a positive and supportive environment, he is still healing from the trauma he experienced during those very difficult times. Truth be told, as his mother, I am still healing as well.
Part of what is preventing our family from completely healing and moving on is the fact that we never got closure. We are still seeing similar tragedies occur and continued mistreatment of other children with disabilities. No significant changes have been made in our son’s previous school, despite the fact that we took our concerns all the way from the administrator, to the division, to the board of trustees, and then to the Ministry.
We were never informed that we could request a committee after the Minister did not address our concerns. No one pointed us to the formal dispute resolution process, nor the parent’s guide to formal dispute resolution that we later discovered on the Manitoba Education’s Student Services website.
In recognition of Inclusive Education month in Manitoba, we are sharing with you a summary of desperate pleas from parents and caregivers of children with disabilities whose children are currently in Manitoba’s under-funded public education system.
What is outlined in our blog post is a consolidated list of input gathered from a large community of parents and caregivers in Manitoba, all of whom have needed to seek advocacy and support for their child, and have had to fight the public education system just to have their children’s needs met. This should not still be happening in 2021, and should not have been happening over the past decade.
Given that this is indeed Inclusive Education month in Manitoba, we look forward to your thoughtful and timely response. We very much look forward to hearing how you will address these concerns and what steps will be taken over the coming months and years to improve the current unacceptable conditions in our public schools.
Jillian, ADHD 2e Pro, CYW, BA Psych.
Child Advocate, Mother, Manitoban.
On behalf of all parents of children with disabilities here in Manitoba.
There are many ways to support your child and other neurodiverse children
Share with other parents and caregivers, share stories on social media, write blog posts, whatever you are comfortable with.
Sharing our experiences allows those who don't know to learn.