Autism Coalition Demands Improvements to Special Education Funding and Staffing Levels Following the Tragic Passing of Landyn Ferris

At a news conference held at Queen’s Park (Tuesday, June 4, 2024), the Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC), joined with MPP Monique Taylor, MPP Chandra Pasma, and Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act Alliance Chair David Lepofsky, in calling for sweeping changes to Ontario’s Special Education System. The OAC is asking all Ontarians, whether they are parents of special education students or not, to join this initiative.

At one time, not so long ago, shortages of special education support staff had a negative impact on student learning. Now, the problem has grown to the point where basic student safety is in danger, and the Ford government can no longer ignore the consequences of its policies.

Landyn Ferris was a 16-year-old high school student who had a potentially deadly seizure disorder. Despite his mother’s instructions to the school that Landyn should not be left alone or allowed to nap, both of these things happened and Landyn died in his sleep as a result of a seizure. Questions surround this tragedy, but the inescapable reality is that Landyn should not have been left alone, and adequate staff support was not available when the young man most needed it.

The OAC’s ongoing advocacy efforts demand adequate staffing and funding for special education in Ontario. We urge policymakers to make immediate changes to ensure the safety and well-being of children with special needs.

The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. We clearly don’t yet measure up, and we must do better. Lives depend on it.

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