The Fee family will now approach the Ombudsman of Ontario for help intervening, and hopefully overturning, Ontario’s human rights tribunal decision.
It comes nearly a week after the Fee family lost the fight for their autistic son Kenner to have his service dog named Ivy in class with him.
The Fee family says Ivy helps Kenner with his anxiety, so Kenner can focus on his studies.
Kenner’s father Craig told 570 NEWS that when Kenner found out about the ruling, he was both shocked and saddened. “We sat him down, and of course he bursted into tears and so did his 7-year-old sister because she knows what this means for her brother.”
Fee adds, he hasn’t talked to anyone yet that agrees with the tribunal’s decision. “It’s still something that I can’t believe happen. We were thrown a bunch of words on a page and that was it.”
The fight to allow Ivy inside a Waterloo Catholic District School Board classroom began in April of 2014. From start to finish, the tribunal made their decision within two months.
Fee says battling the WCDSB was like David versus Goliath. “On one side, you have a family with one lawyer, and on the other side, there’s multiple lawyers and an infinite amount of taxpayer dollars to help them. Regardless of the way the tribunal is set up, it doesn’t help anyone.”
In an updated statement sent to 570 NEWS, the WCDSB says they stand-by the decision that was made:
“The Board’s policy and decisions were upheld by the tribunal. Student success is of paramount importance to us and we strive to bring each one to their fullest potential. We do have a policy that allows for service dogs, and we follow a consistent process for each child and make decisions based on a case by case basis. We work alongside families to make student-centred, individualized decisions that we collectively believe will allow them to flourish. As a board we have a responsibility to all our students and must make decisions in their collective best interest, balancing our resources to serve all to the best of our ability. Sometimes we may have differences of opinion with parents about supports and accommodations but we understand that we share the common goal of bringing them to their full potential. In most cases that does allow us to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. We certainly understand the passion all parents bring to advocating in their child’s best interest.
Loretta Notten, Director of Education”