Union rules deny autistic child familiar helper

FREDERICTON – A Hanwell woman says union hiring rules are stopping her autistic son from getting the education he deserves. Pamela Weaver wants School District 18 stand up to the CUPE before school starts on September 2.
Johnny Weaver is five years old and is to start kindergarten in 11 days. He loves reading and bubbles and bouncing on a trampoline.

He is also autistic.

His parents have spent $40,000 on a specially trained therapist for him over the last three years. Therapist Tammy Close has been accepted as a teacher assistant by District 18 and placed on the casual list.

Johnny’s mother Pamela Weaver is demanding that Tammy be assigned as her son’s full-time TA, but the district won’t do that because the union contract with CUPE assigns TAs based on seniority.

“They have told me that seniority comes first before my son’s future,” Weaver says. “They have told me that seniority gets the job placement whether they have the training or not.”

Weaver says Education Minister Madeline Dubé has told her that her hands are tied.

Liberal Education critic Kelly Lamrock says Johnny’s human rights are being violated and the government has to do what’s best for Johnny. “It’s time to stop hiding behind rules and it’s time to start standing up for the kids in our system,” says Lamrock.

Weaver says she’ll pursue a court challenge or a human rights case if her son doesn’t get his trusted TA.

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