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Sen. Gatchalian seeks investigation into SPED student discrimination

​A child and his teacher enjoy their learning session at the Valenzuela City Special Education Center, the country’s first locally funded SPED facility in the country, file photo. Senator Gatchalian in a statement said children and youth with special needs (CYSNS) deserve to be treated with the same respect as other Filipino youth and must be provided with quality education to help them live meaningful lives. (Photo by Rodrigo de Guzman)

Senator Win Gatchalian is calling on the Department of Education to conduct an investigation into the discriminatory acts allegedly committed by a Caloocan public school principal, who reportedly ordered the displacement of special needs students from their designated classroom and called them “abnormal”.

“I condemn the alleged conduct of Principal Eustaquio Gagarra, Jr. of Kalayaan National High School. This type of despicable discrimination against special needs children has no place in our public education system,” said Gatchalian, the Vice-Chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

Pointing to this unfortunate episode as further proof that special needs students need greater protection and care within the public education system, Gatchalian called on the Senate Education Committee to prioritize the passage of Senate Bill No. 996, otherwise known as the Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act of 2016.

The Inclusive Education Act, one of the key bills comprising Gatchalian’s education legislative agenda, would establish a comprehensive inclusive education policy framework infused with significant investments in SPED infrastructure, dedicated teaching and non-teaching personnel, and specialized personal equipment and learning aids.

The ultimate vision of the measure is to prepare children and youth with special needs (CYSNs) for full participation and achievement, first in the regular classroom setting of public schools, and eventually in Philippine society at-large as fully integrated young adults.

“Special needs children are not abnormal. They deserve to be treated with the same respect and care as other Filipino youth, which means that they must be given the chance to obtain a quality education and live meaningful lives as respected members of our society. This legislation will pull special needs children out of the margins and give them the fighting chance in life that they deserve,” said Gatchalian.