SCHOOL DISTRICT BRIEF: Deferred registration and Kindergarten revisited

The May 8 school district policy meeting revisited what has become a much-discussed topic: the placement of students who defer registration in the Sea to Sky.

After parents raised concerns about the policy, the SD48 board consulted the school act and the Ministry of Education, which confirmed the intent of the policy is appropriate. The Human Rights Tribunal told the school board the policy does not violate human rights.

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"The intent and the spirit of deferred enrolment is that you would stay with your age-appropriate peers and the process we use is consulting a collection of information over time so the family has other information to consider, and the principal has other information to consider. There's never a decision made in that moment," superintendent Lisa McCullough said.

While parents will be included in the consultation, the principal has the final choice for student placement. The school board will consider providing more information about how the consultation process works instead of outlining it in the deferred registration policy.

McCullough said, "The legislation branch and the ministry are very clear kindergarten is an optional program."

Trustee Celeste Bickford said parents should feel like valued partners in the placement process, not like victims, and that the policy should be clear so parents don't unwittingly miss out on kindergarten.

Since there are combined kindergarten and Grade 1 classes, McCullough added that students are in the same classrooms and environments as they would be if they entered kindergarten.

The superintendent added that the information gathered about students allows a principal — an education professional — to do research a parent wouldn't be able to do.

Rick Price, the board chair, said he believes it's wrong to assume a parent arrives at school with all the information about how their child would behave in a classroom environment.

The district policy will make it more clear what parents can expect. It will be edited and brought back to the board for the next meeting.

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