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April 6, 2004

Shawchuk family takes case to Humans Rights Commission

From: CFCN - Calgary,Alberta,Canada - Apr 6, 2004

POSTED AT 4:33 PM Tuesday, April 06

A Calgary couple is continuing the fight over a little known disciplinary practice at their son's school.

Tuesday, the Shawchuk family said they would take their case against the use of so-called Focus Centres at St. Helena Junior High School to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

The couple's 16-year-old son Adam has Down Syndrome. He is deaf and communicates with sign language.

His mother, Betty, says when she made an unannounced visit to the school, she found Adam's desk completely surrounded by cardboard.

She says the teacher told her that Adam had been uncooperative.

The Shawchuk pulled Adam out of St. Helena and say those involved refuse to give them a direct apology.

But the board defends its practices, saying the so-called Focus Centres are used to help manage children with aggressive behaviour.

The board insists students are never fully enclosed and the centres are used with the permission of parents.

But, the Shawchuks maintain Adam was completely surrounded by cardboard foldouts and they didn't know they were being used.

They say they are filing and human rights complaint and may take legal action because they believe that Adam was treated differently from other students due to his mental and physical disability.

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