Special Education


“Our Catholic Schools: heart of the community — success for each, a place for all.”

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is committed to providing programs and services to meet the diverse needs of students within our Catholic Schools.

The WCDSB philosophy of Special Education is aligned with the Board’s Mission Statement:

“As disciples of Christ, we educate and nurture hope in all learners to realize their full potential to transform God’s world.”

The focus is on the individual student and his/her optimum development within the learning environment of age appropriate peers in the home school community. In the delivery of individualized programs, Classroom Teachers are supported by their Principal, Special Education Teacher(s), Educational Assistant(s) and members of the Collaborative Team assigned to their school.

The development of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) enables teachers, parents, and others involved with the student to collaboratively identify individual learning strengths and needs.  Specific teaching and learning strategies and accommodations and/or modifications to the curriculum are developed to address these needs.

At WCDSB it is our belief that all children are capable of learning. Each child develops and learns in his or her own unique way. We recognize that every child has their own special strengths and needs. Keeping the child at the centre, WCDSB provides a learning environment in which hope is nurtured and all learners realize their full potential.

What does Special Education Service look like at WCDSB?

The foundation of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board is built on the principles of inclusive education. The preferred placement for students receiving Special Education programs* and services* is a regular classroom. Occasionally, in co-operation with parents, students are served through time limited partial and full withdrawal placements.

In general Special Education programs are delivered in one or more of the following combinations:

  • Classroom Placement
  • Classroom Placement with Special Education Support (either in class or withdrawal)

In the rare instance when the student’s needs are better met outside an integrated setting a time limited partial or fully withdrawn placement is considered. Every student is unique and every effort is made to increase progressively the quality and quantity of inclusive time spent with members of the school community both socially and academically.

* A Special Education Program is defined by the Ministry of Education in the Education Act as an educational program that:

  • Is based on and modified by the results of continuous assessment and evaluation; and
  • Includes a plan containing specific objectives and an outline of special education services that meet the needs of the exceptional pupil.

Special Education Service is defined by the Ministry of Education in the Education Act as:

  • Facilities and resources, including support personnel and equipment, necessary for developing and implementing a special education program.

Link to Ontario Ministry of Education Special Education Website:


Team Approach:

A team approach is most beneficial in helping any child with learning needs. The team includes Parents, Classroom Teacher, Special Education Teacher and Principal.

This team works collaboratively when an IEP needs to be developed. It enables teachers, parents and others involved with the student:

  • To collaboratively identify individual learning needs,
  • To develop specific teaching and learning strategies and/or curriculum accommodations and/or modifications to address these needs,
  • To develop on-going assessment and reporting practices which identify progress in the achievement of the Individual Education Plan, and
  • To establish transition plans from year to year and post-secondary transition plans.

Additional Resource Personel at WCDSB

When there are additional questions about a student’s strengths and needs, schools may consult with the Collaborative Team. This team is comprised of WCDSB Board level staff, and includes a Psychoeducational Consultant, Speech-Language Pathologist, Social Worker, Special Education Liaison and BCBA/ABA Facilitator.

A Collaborative Team Consent form indicating parental consent will be obtained prior to discussing the student at the Collaborative Team meeting. There can be numerous outcomes from this consultation which will be discussed with the parents. If specialized assessment is considered, consent from parents will be obtained. Parental consent for specialized assessment will be initiated by the Special Education – Learning Services staff member who will complete the assessment.

In WCDSB schools may seek the services of a variety of additional resource personnel and/or services including:

Clicking on a Role above will take you to our Contact Us page which has the role description as well as the contact information for the individuals included in that role at WCDSB.

Who does WCDSB Consult with About Education

Our Special Education policies at WCDSB are rooted in the processes and standards provided by the Ministry of Education, the IEP Process, IPRC Process and the WCDSB Special Education Service Delivery Model. WCDSB’s philosophy of Special Education is based on ongoing collaboration with all stakeholders including parents, students, staff, and community partners.

Continuous consultation with Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) is a forum for consultation with our community partners.

Link to WCDSB Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC):

SEAC Committee Webpage

Link to Ministry of Education Special Education website:


Ministry of Education Definitions

Special Education Roles and Services

The Ministry of Education has defined roles and responsibilities in elementary and secondary education in several key areas:

  • legislative and policy framework
  • funding
  • school system management
  • programs and curriculum

It is important that all involved in Special Education understand their roles and responsibilities, which are outlined below.

The Ministry of Education

  • defines, through the Education Act, regulations, and policy/program memoranda, the legal obligations of school boards regarding the provision of Special Education programs and services, and prescribes the categories and definitions of exceptionality;
  • ensures that school boards provide appropriate Special Education programs and services for their exceptional pupils;
  • establishes the funding for Special Education through the structure of the funding model. The model consists of the Foundation Grant, the Special Education Grant, and other special purpose grants;
  • requires school boards to report on their expenditures for Special Education;
  • sets province-wide standards for curriculum and reporting of achievement;
  • requires school boards to establish Special Education Advisory Committees (SEACs);
  • establishes Special Education Tribunals to hear disputes between parents and school boards regarding the identification and placement of exceptional pupils;
  • establishes a provincial Advisory Council on Special Education to advise the Minister of Education on matters related to Special Education programs and services;
  • operates Provincial and Demonstration Schools for students who are deaf, blind, or deaf-blind, or who have severe learning disabilities.

The district school board or school authority