Special needs students will miss Mouat’s resource room

The Abbotsford school district decided to close the resource room at W.J. Mouat Secondary starting in September.

Michael Henriksen and Caroline McNichols are upset that they will no longer be able to attend school at W.J. Mouat’s resource room

Michael Henriksen and Caroline McNichols are upset that they will no longer be able to attend school at W.J. Mouat’s resource room

Carol and Doug Henriksen know their son Michael has it in him to drive a teacher around the bend if he is put into a regular classroom setting. And they know transferring him to a different school’s resource room will be upsetting to the boy, who has Down syndrome and autism, and set him back by perhaps half a school year.

However, those are their options after the Abbotsford school district decided to close the resource room at W.J. Mouat Secondary starting in September.

Chipo McNichols is equally worried about her 18-year-old daughter Caroline, explaining the teen has a rare disorder that inhibits her ability to metabolize protein. She is intellectually at about a Grade 1 level, but Caroline knows she is going to deeply miss her friends and teaching assistants at Mouat’s resource room.

“She is quite upset. This is all she has known,” said Chipo. “She loves it.”

When her family moved to Abbotsford from Hope, the resource room at Mouat started to make a difference in her daughter.

“For Caroline, it has been a lifesaver. She has grown so much as a person,” she said.

Caroline is still speech delayed, but that is improving, and she still needs socialization.

“She’s 18, but she’s very vulnerable.”

Both parents say the resource room is both their children’s classroom and their entire social circle.

They were informed by letter this month that the room will be closing due to declining enrolment, as of the end of June. Their children can attend at a school that has a resource room, remain at Mouat in integrated classrooms with appropriate support, or attend their neighbourhood school in regular classrooms, with appropriate support.

Carol says 15-year-old Michael can’t be integrated into Mouat’s academic classes. He is integrated with an aide for metalwork and drama classes, but just won’t sit still in a “regular” class.

“It would be disruptive to the teacher and the students,” she said.

She explained Michael is also a flight risk. Once, in elementary school, he locked himself in a janitor’s closet, and his unexplained absence caused tremendous anxiety for school staff.

“He’ll just bolt on you,” said Carol. “He thinks it’s funny.”

“It has taken Michael a year and a half to adjust to moving from Chief Dan George,” Carol said.

Chipo explained Caroline was supposed to be doing Grade 13 at the resource room, which is a program tailored to help her transition into adulthood and be socialized as a young adult. Disrupting that could be devastating, she said.

“We didn’t have a voice. We had no input, no notice,” said Chipo.

Carol doesn’t buy the argument that Mouat’s resource room has too few students to be viable.

She has contacted the resource programs at Hansen, Abbotsford Collegiate and Bateman, and said each will have six or seven students next year – just as Mouat would.

Abbotsford board of education communications manager Dave Stephen said special needs students don’t need a resource room to be supported in their education.

There are 1,600 identified special needs students in the district, and many do not attend classes at a resource room.

Many schools don’t even have one, and some school districts don’t use them, favouring full integration into classrooms.

“Integration has been a long-established arc in education,” he said, adding the goal of educators is to integrate students as much as possible.

Stephen said the decision to close the resource room came after a review revealed the number of students using the facility at Mouat had been in steady decline.

The decision was made to realign services to where there is greatest demand.

“Whatever those students’ needs are, we will continue to support them,” he said.

Just Posted

Satwinder Bains of Abbotsford is the recipient of the 2021 aculty Service Excellence Award from University of the Fraser Valley. (UFV photo)
Satwinder Bains receives UFV Faculty Service Excellence Award

Bains has guided South Asian Studies Institute as director since 2006

The City of Abbotsford has prepared a draft Urban Forest Strategy that is now headed to public consulation.
Draft plan adopted for managing Abbotsford’s urban forests over next 25 years

Urban Forest Strategy now heads to public-consultation process

Country music star Chris Lane stops in Abbotsford next February. (Submitted)
Country music star Chris Lane coming to Abbotsford

Multi-platinum artist bringing ‘Fill Them Boots’ to Abbotsford Centre on Feb. 19, 2022

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

The intersection of Blueridge Drive and Blue Jay Street is one of three intersections in Abbotsford approved for traffic lights this year. (Google Street View)
Traffic signals approved at 3 Abbotsford intersections

Projects part of $1.45M in road upgrades around community

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read