Special ed for disabled kids mandatory says Cassation Court

Supreme court orders school, ministry to compensate parents

(ANSA) - Rome, November 25 - The supreme Court of Cassation on Tuesday found Italy's education ministry and a school in the north-western Friuli region guilty of discrimination against a disabled pupil, ordering compensation of 5,000 euros to the child's parents.
    The public school system must guarantee equal access to education, and this means kids with special needs must get all the support they need in order to attend school on an equal footing with their peers, the court said.
    Individual schools have no discretion in the matter, the court added. "In cases of severe handicap, school authorities have the tools to fully implement measures that correspond to the needs of the child," the court wrote.
    The ruling came in the case of a totally disabled child who had been assigned 25 special education teaching hours a week, allowing her to attend pre-school full-time.
    However her school, the Comprehensive Institute in the northern city of Udine, gave her a special needs teacher for just 12.5 hours a week.
    The school and the education ministry argued in their defense that there was no discrimination because pre-school is not mandatory.
    The court answered that guarantees of disabled children's equal right to an education includes pre-school.
    The rest of the class would also benefit from the full-time presence of a disabled peer, "which might lead them to respect and accept diversity as part of the diversity of humanity itself," the judges wrote in their opinion.
   

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