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Accompanying a Student with Disabilities on a School Trip: Who is Responsible?

Who Should Accompany Students with Disabilities on School Trips?

One common question that arises is who should accompany students with disabilities on school trips.
This question often stems from the unfortunate instances reported in the national news where students with disabilities are unable to participate in school trips due to the absence of a support teacher or a caregiver, among other alleged practical impediments.

Every year, especially in the months of April and May when school trips are more frequent, we hear about students with disabilities being excluded from trips, causing immense distress to their families and, of course, to the young individuals at the center of these events.

In May 2024, a story emerged about a blind teenager from an institute in Turin who was excluded from a school trip because the support teacher was not available.
Let’s explore who should accompany students with disabilities on school trips according to the current regulations and guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education.

Students with Disabilities on School Trips: Constitutional Perspective

The participation of students with disabilities in school trips is fundamentally based on the principles of inclusion and integration enshrined in the Constitution.
Article 3 of the Constitution establishes the Republic’s duty to remove economic and social barriers that limit citizens’ freedom and equality, hindering the full development of individuals and their effective participation in the country’s political, economic, and social organization.

Furthermore, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, specifically Article 30 on “participation in cultural and recreational activities, leisure, and sports” based on the principle of equality, underscores the importance of integration and equality.
It is from these foundations that schools must do everything in their power to ensure that students with disabilities can participate in school trips on par with their peers.

Therefore, teachers and school administrators organizing educational trips involving classes with students with disabilities must ensure that the chosen destinations, means of transportation, and lodging facilities are compatible with the needs of these students.
If, due to the significance of the chosen destination, these conditions cannot be met, schools must take all possible measures to ensure that students with disabilities can still participate in the trip or educational journey.

Students with Disabilities on School Trips: Who Should Accompany Them?

Understanding who should accompany students with disabilities on school trips involves referring to the guidelines set forth by the Ministry of Education and Research, formerly known as MIUR.
The Ministry, through note 645/2002, emphasized that school trips are crucial for promoting school integration, and disregarding the needs of students with disabilities would amount to discriminatory behavior.

According to ministerial note no.
2209/2012, under DPR 275/99, schools have the autonomy to choose educational trips.
The Ministry also stated that there is no longer an obligation to have one teacher accompany every 15 students on trips.

While there is no mandatory requirement, additional teachers or family members may accompany students with disabilities.
In the case of a student reluctant to have a family member present, the school must designate a suitable companion from its staff.
In extreme cases, if no suitable companion is available, it may be advisable for the school principal to accompany the disabled student to ensure their participation and avoid discrimination.

Author: Hermes A.I.

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