Mr.and Mrs. Henderson are the parents of Jill Henderson, age 14, who suffers from cerebral palsy and who has severe difficulties communicating through speech, sign language or other alternative communication system and who is mobility impaired and mainly uses a wheelchair.
According to the provisions of the Education Act, school boards may identify "exceptional students" and determine that such students be placed in special education classes.
At the request of her parents, Jill completed her primary education
regular class. The Hendersons firmly believe that it is not in Jill's interest to be in an environment where there are only other exceptional students. During her years in primary school, they witnessed tremendous improvement in her socialization.
Upon her admission in secondary school, the School Board has identified
Jill as an “exceptional student “ and directed that she attend a special
class. It has nevertheless agreed, at the Hendersons’ request, to
place her, on a trial basis, in a regular class at her neighborhood secondary
school. This arrangement required a full-time assistant, paid by
the Board, to be present in the classroom in order attend Jill's needs.
After two years, however. the School Board determined that Jill's best
interests were not served by attending a regular class. In addition.
some students indicated that they didn't appreciate all the attention that
Jill received. On the other hand. other students became attached
to Jill want her to remain in the class. The Board also had concerns
as to Jill's physical safety in a regular classroom environment.
The Board then decided to place Jill in a special education class in another
school 'a considerable distance from her home. At that school, she
could benefit from the services many educational specialists trained to
respond to the needs of exceptional students.
The Hendersons contested the decision of the School Board before the Tribunal des droits de la personne. The Tribunal held in favour of the parents and ordered the School Board to reinstate Jill in the regular class. The Court of Appeal, by a 2: 1 decision, overturned the judgment of the Tribunal. The parents now appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.