Parents take on legal fight for son”s access to classroom


Stanley and Shelley Schulman want their son David to be able to go to school with his peers.

They have been battling with the Lester B. Pearson School Board off and on for eight years. They are now requesting an injunction from Quebec Superior Court to compel the school board to allow their son access to the Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School work-oriented program for the equivalent of one full academic year. Because the case has yet to be heard, Schulman has missed the start of this academic year.

The court date is set for Oct. 27. At the request of the LBPSB, there have already been two postponements.

David Schulman has lesions on the brain. Epileptic seizures are controlled by medication. His behaviour is similar to that of someone with autism. He needs structure to stay calm and his doctor says he needs the stimulation of contact with his peers in the classroom setting.

Schulman’s physician is Dr. David Bloom from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute. Bloom has told the parents that Schulman’s most receptive time for learning is before age 21. He turns 21 in February.

Schulman’s next birthday also marks the end of the board’s responsibility to provide him with an education which is why the court appearance is so important to the family.

“David just wants to be like any other kid in life,” Stanley Schulman said. “He volunteers regularly. He plays hockey, baseball and football. The only time we’ve had trouble is with the (LBPSB).”

Schulman was born in Russia, not far from Chernobyl where a nuclear disaster occurred in 1986. The couple adopted him when he was three and a half years old. They were told he was healthy, but on the plane ride home, they noticed odd behaviour. Eight months later he had a major seizure. A brain scan revealed the lesions.

“He is essentially working with half a brain,” Stanley Schulman said. “But he gets along with other kids and can take instruction.”

Over the last eight years, Schulman has been schooled in the classroom, home schooled and attended the PCHS work-oriented program. His father said the board has repeatedly cited behavioural incidents which make Schulman unsuitable for the classroom setting, but the parents have yet to see incident reports and suspect the incidents were triggered by others. The father said at one point the school board was set to request youth protection seize the son because there were reports he was abusing his parents. He was never taken away by youth protection and the file was closed.

A person with autism can sometimes become agitated if pushed outside a familiar routine or if pushed repeatedly to do a task. 

The quality of Schulman’s home-schooling has been inconsistent, with tutors cancelling and on one occasion, according to the father, the instructor falling asleep during a session. 

This isn’t the first time the Schulmans have taken the board to court. On two occasions, the judges ordered the two sides to work it out on their own. On one occasion there was a settlement with a confidentiality agreement attached. Schulman has received no schooling since June, 2016 after the doctor said it was crucial he be allowed access to a classroom setting.

A spokesman for the Lester B. Pearson School Board would not comment because the case in ongoing.