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Hate mail condemned

Hate mail condemned

The discrimination faced by the family of a young Taupo boy who was forced to change schools after receiving hate mail is nothing new according to IHC’s Advocacy service.

Families are faced with this behaviour regularly, IHC’s Director of Advocacy Janine Stewart said today. “It’s usually more subtle, but we get regular calls from families who face discrimination in schools.”

The 1989 Education Act gives every child, no matter what their disability, the right to go to their local school, Ms Stewart said.

“And here we are 14 years later still struggling to ensure everyone is able to exercise that right. It’s a bit like saying everyone has the right to go on the bus, but the driver picks and chooses who he lets on.”

“We are also concerned that the Ministry of Education appeared so laid back in their response to this letter. The lack of sure direction from the Ministry has been an issue in some cases and we are continuing to ask for stronger commitment from them.”

Ms Stewart said the letter reflected a fairly common myth that people with intellectual disabilities are disruptive and badly behaved.

“They are just like other children, but need more support in some areas of learning. Like other children they sometimes misbehave, but not at any higher rate than the rest of a classroom.”

“In fact schools report that everyone benefits from having a child with a disability. The children learn tolerance and teachers learn new ways to include more students in learning. It’s a pity the letter writers didn’t have the opportunity to learn in the same way.”

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