Salem Geczi is doing well in school. Her smarts are reflected in last year's good grades and she was eager to return to her Calgary Arts Academy classroom this fall.
But now her parents are speaking out against actions of the school superintendent, who they allege is trying to force Salem out over a funding issue regarding her physical disability.
Salem, 7, is living with severe cerebral palsy and has an educational aide to help her move about the classroom, reports the Calgary Herald.
She's been attending the Calgary Arts Academy since last year, but her parents recently received a letter from administration, telling them the assistant hired by the school to help Salem is only temporary.
“We cannot continue to provide this service,” Dale Erickson, founder and superintendent of the school, wrote in the letter, reports the Calgary Sun.
“Should Salem continue as a student at Calgary Arts Academy, she would receive the same program and level of service provided to other students.”
In the letter, Erickson explains that public school boards are legally required to provide assistance to special needs students, but that Calgary Arts Academy -- a tax-funded charter school -- will no longer offer further support to special needs students like Salem.
According to the Calgary Sun, Alberta's School Act does not require charter schools to cater to the needs of students with disabilities.
“The school accepted her knowing full well her diagnosis and needs. The school of their own accord hired a full-time aide and is now trying to remove her,” Kathleen Henrichon, Salem’s mother, told the Calgary Sun.
“Obviously we are beside ourselves, we have no reason to change schools — our daughter is happy at her school and is doing well there.”
Father Will Geczi told Metro Calgary he was surprised the school accepted Salem in the first place, but is shocked to learn her future there may be in jeopardy.
Principal Josh Van Beers told Metro the concern surrounds future funding for the school -- right now students requiring aides can receive funding up to $16,000 per year, but Van Beers fears that funding could lapse in the future.
“Salem is enrolled at Calgary Arts Academy now, and no one is saying she can’t attend — but we’ve requested a meeting with the parents to discuss the best program for Salem down the road," Erickson told the Sun.
“It’s not about now, it’s about the future.”
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