B.C. school district fined for failing to address student's anxiety

BC school district fined

An unnamed school district in British Columbia has been ordered by the province's human rights tribunal to pay $5,000 to a student for failing to accommodate her anxiety disorder.

Tribunal vice-chair Devyn Cousineau says in a decision released last month that the school district "failed to take reasonable steps to investigate and address the female student's anxiety over her transition from elementary school to high school.

The ruling says the unidentified student had been diagnosed since kindergarten with anxiety and has been on medication since Grade 7 when she made the move to high school in fall 2018.

The tribunal judgment says the student was transitioning from a unique language arts program in elementary school into regular language classes in high school, where her anxiety levels escalated with more difficult material and an "unsupportive" teacher who allegedly laughed at her mistakes.

The family filed the human rights complaint in 2020, accusing the school district of discrimination based on her placement into a class that "exacerbated her disabilities and impaired her ability to access her education."

Cousineau rejected part of the complaint but found the school district failed "to reasonably respond" to information about the adverse impact the class environment was having on the student.

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