I assume the son has a statement? If so the LA is massively in breach of its duty to provide for his needs as set out in the statement. If the local maintained special schools don't have a place they should be looking elsewhere, including independent schools.
I strongly suggest your friend contacts a lawyer who can do legal aid, preferably Maxwell Gillott. That's because the family could take court action in their son's name and he probably qualifies for legal aid. But in fact a lawyer's letter on its own might wake the council up.
Does FOF have local Parent Partnership involved? They will be able to guide them through the local LEA's proceedures.
I think 15hrs is the minimum education the LEA must provide for kids that are involuntarily out of school. There was recent talk of making provision of full time education statutory but I'm not sure if that came to fruition.
Posting this for a friend of a friend so sorry if details are patchy. FOFs DS has ASD and was attending special school (SLD) until July when they relocated. New LEA say no special school place available for at least a term, possibly longer but are happy for him to attend local high school without support. This is totally out of the question obviously!
LEA have just agreed after a fight to provide 5hrs tutoring and 5 hrs TA support over 2 days per week. This arrangement isn't ideal and I wondered if this was actually legal?
I can understand it's difficult if all special school places are taken but surely he has a right to a proper education. There are plenty of spaces at a local independent special school but obviously the LEA don't want to pay for this.