Support Spy on Section 23 Classrooms

guestblogI used to work with a guy who was Customer Support Manager by day and a Support Spy by night. He's asked me to post this guest blog entry about something he's very passionate about.

Remember, the blockquote below is from Support Spy, not Toronto Mike. The opinions expressed aren't mine blah blah blah.

Secret exposed by parents - Demand Section 23 classrooms removed from Elementary Schools

A group of very-high risk teenagers in a program called ‘Section 23’ were placed by the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board in my son’s elementary school, including 5 teenagers, one teacher and two Child and Youth Workers.

These classrooms are for very high-risk teenagers whose needs are so severe that regular classrooms are not adequate. This program is in 4 other schools in Dufferin Peel, and the parents at those schools have not been informed. We have recently discovered that this program is also in St. Pio of Pietrelcina and have confirmed the parents are not aware.

With no communication plan, safety plan, explanation of the program, and no one at the school board taking ownership, the parents have increased the pressure. It was discovered that the other school boards in the GTA do not put teenagers in elementary schools, but rather in age appropriate locations. This includes high schools and ‘offsite locations’. Everyone should have an opportunity for education.

Many parents still do not know about this program because there has not been any written notice to parents from the school or school board, explaining the program.

Our request is to move these high-risk teenagers to an age appropriate location in-line with the other school boards.

Please support our concerns by signing our online petition. You can also read more details at my blog.

Support Spy is a Customer Support Manager in the Toronto Area and has been a double-agent for about 15 years.  He is a consumer advocate who has learned the secrets of support and can lead you on an easier road to satisfaction.  You can read about customer experiences and navigating support systems at his blog.

If you have something to say, you can say it here, just like Support Spy did. Just drop me a line. Contact info is here.


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Comments (21 - click here to join in!)

Support Spy

Thanks Toronto Mike! I appreciate the opportunity to guest post.

October 18, 2011 @ 11:53 AM

Elba

My sons attend a Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School in south Mississagua. The parent council meeting is tonight. I'll be sure to ask the principal if there is a section 23 classroom in the school. Thanks for posting.

October 18, 2011 @ 2:40 PM

Sam

These section 23 kids deserve a chance, right?

We can't tuck them away under some rug, can we?

October 18, 2011 @ 3:10 PM

dale

It's an elementary school with 4-10 yr olds & yet teenager's admitted. NOT RIGHT.

October 18, 2011 @ 7:11 PM

Aisha

Hey, I was wondering why isn't it right? In your blog you didn't state that they were causing any problems. You are discriminating just because of their age and the title "high-risk" that they were given. These individuals are there to better themselves. I believe if you are afraid they are going to learn 'bad behavior' from these section 23 students. You are looking too far.

October 18, 2011 @ 7:37 PM

Rick C in Oakville

The school system is far too secretive to the parents and the taxpayers, from prayers in schools when schools are to be devoid of all hints of religion, to students not being expelled for bullying and other bootable offences. The guy who was the chair of the teachers college disciplinary panel having co-written a teen soft core novel, while sitting in judgement of teachers whose behaviour was grist for his writing mill.
Sorry but the faith I am having in these people to make the right decision is getting seriously eroded with all the back door secrecy.

The Section 23 kids should be in the proper age appropriate school, not with kids of a lesser age.

October 18, 2011 @ 8:04 PM

Mississauga Phil

These Section 23 kids of course deserve a chance, but not across the hall from my JK level son...these kids should be in a setting with their peers. If you don't want to have a special school just for them, they should be placed in a high school setting, not around Impressionalbe children. Does anyone know which 5 peel schools have this program?

October 19, 2011 @ 11:55 AM

Anonymous

@Mississauga Phil.

St. Pio of Pietrelcina has a Section 23 classroom. I don't know the other schools.

October 19, 2011 @ 1:27 PM

Mississauga Phil

@ Anonymous - Thanks anyways, I'm going to go have a talk with my son's principal and make sure that this is not going on in his school...

October 19, 2011 @ 4:25 PM

Support Spy

@Mississauga Phil Please post or email me if you do find out the names of any of the other schools with Section 23.

I appreciate everyone's comments. It's good to keep the dialogue going on this. The lack of transparency from this school board is very concerning to me.

It should encourage everyone to take an active interest in their children's school and not assume that everything is being done in the best interest of the children.

October 19, 2011 @ 6:32 PM

Mississauga Phil

@ Support Spy - Christ The King Elementry in Mississauga is clean. I couldn't find a contact email on your blog, let me know if I can be of any help.

October 19, 2011 @ 7:27 PM

Rick C in Oakville

@ Support Spy. I had never heard of this initiative until you posted it up, I wonder what other policies fly under the radar that the average parent doesn't have a clue exist.

Thank you!

October 19, 2011 @ 9:15 PM

Support Spy

@ Mississauga Phil - I appreciate the follow up! The TDSB posts the names of the schools they use, so this privacy shield the Dufferin Peel Board is using, is unwarranted. My email is 'admin at supportspy dot com' in case you want to keep in contact.

@Rick C - Good question. This was posed at the school board meeting at St. Vincent de Paul. The board refused to answer.

October 22, 2011 @ 3:41 PM

Support Spy

@Aisha - you can read all about why 100+ parents so far (for a school of 220 kids) have signed the written petition. The two main concerns are:

- there is no communication or safety plan

- high school youth do not belong in an elementary school as is the policy of all the other GTA boards. There are many other places to put these teenagers that they can be proud of, and call their own.

October 22, 2011 @ 3:46 PM

Mark

Section 23 programs are alternative schools for students at risk. Section 23 students are not by definition dangerous or teenagers. Could you please not refer to Section 23 the way you did in this post. If someone put teenagers into your kids grade school and these specific teenagers had issues with violence then say that, but don't start a witch hunt against section 23 which you obviously don't have a lot of information about.

January 13, 2013 @ 1:55 AM

Mark

Just to clarify the students are not high risk they are at risk. There is no difference in the way this blog is written as if he said I don't want these kids in my school because they are black or disabled or jewish. Section 23 has nothing to do with anything he talked about and so many of these "23" kids were bullied and abused in regular schools and were placed in Section 23 to keep them safe from kids whose parents talk and write like the above.

January 13, 2013 @ 2:04 AM

petie1961

I find this conversation more than a little disturbing. "Section 23" is an umbrella term used to describe classrooms containing children/youth who experience difficulties in a typical classroom setting. They include classrooms of children with autism. These classrooms are staffed with a 1:1 ratio, the children are there to benefit from being integrated with "typical" peers. If any of the children have behavioural challenges they absolutely have a behaviour plan in place. All staff are trained to de-escalate challenging situations and at all times have the best interests of all students at heart. The ignorance of people posting (NIMBY, anyone?) is both astounding and extremely disheartening.

August 7, 2013 @ 10:11 AM

Anonymous

Mark and petie1961

The school board was very secretive about the entire program. Initially when parents asked basic questions such as;
What is the program? What are the ages of the children?
How are you going to keep my child safe? We were told, that it was confidential. The only thing they would tell us was that this was a Section 23 class and the children in the program were vulnerable.

We now know the program was for at risk-youth between the ages of 12 - 16 who were living for a time on the street. They were coming from teen group homes and it was a partnership with Children's Aid. The purpose of the program was to prepare them them mentally and educationally for high school re-entry. While I sympathize I still do not think secretly placing at risk teenagers in an elementary school was wise.

As an update, the school board has now removed the program and plans to replace it with an AUTISM program for elementary age students. We are thrilled and applaud the school board for their decision and look forward to welcoming the students from the new program into the school this year.

January 8, 2014 @ 3:20 PM

DearAnonymous

I understand your concern. But as the program is not coming back for the upcoming school year I feel okay to tell you this. My child was enrolled in the Section 23 program at this school. This school in particular was designated for kids grades 9-11 who were/ are dealing with severe anxiety and usually depression. There is a long process with lots of checks and tests from psychiatrists and psychologists associated with the program who would never allow someone they thought was in any way dangerous near the school. The kids in the program that was at your school were all dealing with social anxiety that prevented them from going to a large highschool or anxiety associated with bullying from a large highschool. They come into the program for around a year to heal and learn coping skills. They arrive later than your childrens start time, and leave earlier than their dissmissal. The only time your children will see them is in passing at lunch or if they are on a walk.
It is extremely dissapointing that this program will no longer be available to these kids who have dealt with a lot and never have done anything to you or your children. You have passed judgement and been part of shutting it down.
Dont judge a child when you have no idea what they are going through.

September 9, 2014 @ 12:23 AM

DearAnonymous

Also, to clarify, the reason the purpose of the classroom was kept secretive was to protect the anonymity of the children attending it. By law, a childs psychiatric issues may not be distributed by mental health professionals unless explicitly stated and written by the child. These kids have faced bullying and judgement from their peers and most obviously dont want people to know that they are attending a school to get psychiatric help.

September 9, 2014 @ 12:27 AM

student

I am a student at the Section 23 class in Mississauga and from where I'm sitting, everyone saying that the teenagers are a risk to their children, you aren't being reasonable. I am 17, and I LOVE children. I wouldn't do anything to hurt them. Students just try to better themselves and trying to shut this program down isn't doing anything. Stop judging

September 17, 2014 @ 4:15 PM

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