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Monday, September 1, 2014

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Mom’s advocacy pays off: disabled boy attends class

Tags: Health
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Jacob Trossman and Cheryl Libman, his teacher at Elkhorn Public School

TORONTO — Two weeks ago, on Oct. 20, 10-year-old Jacob Trossman began to attend Elkhorn Public School three full days a week, after seven months of advocacy by his mother, Marcy White.

In late August, The CJN reported that the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) wouldn’t allow the youngster to attend the school more than one half-day a week, as he did last year for the first time. Jacob has Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease and can’t walk or talk.

His first week attending three days was “amazing,” White said. His friends at the school “just flocked to him.” One boy started to read him a book, and a group of boys asked to take him out to the playground after lunch, she said.

“From the first day, the kids were thrilled, and he was thrilled. For anybody that was concerned about a transition period, it’s been nothing but big smiles and lots of laughter,” White said.

“All I want is for my son to have the academic and social education he deserves,” White said in an interview in August. She added that there were no children his age at his cognitive level at Sunny View Public School, where he is part of a program that works on communication in partnership with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Jacob is at his age level cognitively, his mother said.

As well as the social benefits, White is pleased that Jacob is learning from a standard curriculum with his fellow students at Elkhorn.

She credited the TDSB’s Sandy Spyropoulos and her team for the new development. White said she’d been working with Spyropoulos and her team since the beginning of the school year.

Spyropoulos, who is chief academic officer for special education programs and student support services, told The CJN in an email she could not discuss individual student cases, but that she is happy that everything worked out.

The TDSB ensured that proper supports were in place at the school for Jacob, and no construction had to take place, White said.

At one point, she was told that Elkhorn needed a ramp in order for Jacob to attend the school. However, the school already had a ramp and even a disabled parking spot, she said in August.

Reflecting on her persistence in the past months, White said, “I kept persevering, because I knew it was the right thing for him.”

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