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Help me with my Local Government Ombudsman madness

(79 Posts)
inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 09:01:06

Many of you will know the sorry story of my battle with the LGO. I know this is long but it helps me to write it all out!!

I made a complaint about failing to arrange provision in March 2011.

In June 2011, the LGO issues a provisional judgment saying LA had done nothing wrong and I was premature in my complaint.

Within two weeks, LA had determined me a 'vexatious complainant'.

I got them to reopen the case as my son's provision had not been in place as they'd asserted. I also asked them to consider the vexatious determination.

In January 2012, they issued another provisional judgment. This said no maladministration still despite a senior Ass Ombudsman promising to amend this. It was clear that they had written only 2 letters in the 6 months before issuing this new judgment.

We challenged this. I had a leading firm of lawyers on my side acting for free and a charity submitting evidence about the wider implications of their stance. My MP also writes to support me. We asked for someone else to take over.

In June 2012, another investigator issues a final decision. Deeply offensive personal comments are made in an accompanying letter alleging that I had essentially been vexatious to the LGO complaint handler and had been copying people into my emails to her. Completely untrue. I challenge this and she says she no longer has the emails!! Lying cow. Judgment is still deeply flawed so I get lawyers to look at it. Have to transfer to public law specialists and pay. They issue pre action protocol letter.

In September 2012, the LGO withdraw their judgment and say they will issue a new one. No further explanation. We ask for different investigator to handle the new judgment.

In February 2013, they issue another final decision. Same investigator who made personal comments is dealing with it. It has barely been altered save to harden their stance and bolster the nasty comments on me, in particular my taking half a sentence from my MP's two page letter and using it against me. It is not clear what they have been doing for the 6 months between judgments. I think the delay is to make you look like you're flogging a dead horse and are a loon for pursuing an ancient complaint.

I write and say I will want to make a complaint about the way this has been handled and the inaccuracies in their judgment but lawyers are considering a judicial review. LGO write and confirm they will await outcome of JR response before dealing with complaint and will give me time to make submissions before doing anything.

Second pre-action protocol letter issued. Leading counsel and lawyers now acting for free. Both agree LGO are wrong. At the end of May 2013, we receive a rubbish response refusing to change the decision. It says, for example, that the duty to arrange provision does not mean that there is a duty to deliver it??? And that, despite SEN COP saying it has to be arranged from the day the statement is issued, it is reasonable for LAs to take 4 or 5 months. Not because of any pressing emergency but just because, well that sounds reasonable....

Lawyers say we will access their complaints/review process and then decide whether to challenge the judgment by JR. They ask for a timeline for the complaints process.

A week later, I get a special delivery one page letter closing the case, telling me a review has been conducted and the LGO are great. I had not filed a complaint!

I write to the ass ombudsman dealing with the case. She ignores me. I contact lawyers who write to their lawyers.

On 28 June, ass ombudsman agrees to let me have time to file submissions - 14 days! She says if you need more time ask.As you know I have DS out of school and have had meetings to organise his provision and have had to completely redraft his statement. I say I can't do it. Give me an extension.

She ignores me. I have to get lawyer to write to her. Ten days later she says you have 7 more days!

I write explaining I am asking only for an additional 14 days as I can only work weekends as I am teaching DS etc. I tell her after a meeting at school last Friday, I needed to redraft statement, get in costings etc before close of term and DS had to come first.

She says 'I don't have time to listen to this'. Tells me her deadline stands.

My lawyer writes telling her she is being completely unreasonable. She ignores her. My lawyers writes again threatening judicial review. She IGNORES her.

Deadline passed yesterday.

I am so shocked by this level of appalling practice. I just wanted to share it all and get it all off my chest.

What do you do? Two and half years and it comes to this. They take 6 months between judgment and do nothing of any note, but I get 14 days when I have a child at home to educate. It's the nastiness in their tone too, really nasty and personal, like I'm shit on their shoes.

To top it all I made a complaint about lack of OT provision for a YEAR to my LA. I didn't go to the LGO because, well, why would you? We paid for OT ourselves. But we had Tribunal proceedings ongoing so we raised it throughout. Then we tried to get DPs for it. We raised the lack of OT there. DPs were refused because the LA have a block contract for OT! Well DS wasn't getting any provision under it. It turns out that the OT we have instructed is also working under this block contract so they instruct her.

So DS could have had OT with her paid by them all along. So I complain. Stage one response says DS did have daily OT administered in accordance with specialist programme designed by OT and delivered by TA. This is news to me, TA, DS and school. I ask for a copy of this programme. They ignore me. I take it to stage 2.

Stage 2 response comes back and says OT attended annual review in march 2012 and no one mentioned the lack of a programme. They ignore the fact that lack of OT has been brought to their attention Tribunal proceediings, by DP application, and by 2013 annual review where it is clear I have paid for OT to attend and NHS OT is nowhere to be seen and doesn't file a report.

They send me a leaflet to go to the LGO!

How do you deal with these people? Really?

bochead Sat 20-Jul-13 10:09:55

Honestly?

You can't. You just have to get to a stage where you can paddle your own canoe.

Having just spent 3 years out of the workforce due to my LA's shenanigans, been persecuted for having the temerity to request my child be educated, done the Tribunal Thang, requested my son's statement be followed, been seriously persecuted for that; I'm throwing in the towel.

We are moving to the other side of the country, so I can be self-employed and buy in the support my child is obviously never going to get from the state. It isn't right or fair but my child only has one shot at life and I'm not willing to see it be totally destroyed by these assholes, when with the right help he could, maybe have a shot at a reasonable adult quality of life.

I have to weigh up the number of hours in the day, the fact that each day that passes without appropriate support my son gets a day older and the resources I have to hand. Sadly there isn't room for yet another protracted battle. It's a question of priorities.

That makes a good 'story/article'!?

Sorry.

When I look at stories like mine, Claw's and others here, the hour of utter despair usually comes before a major breakthrough.

Hope you are able to find away to make this all okay whether this is another challenge or to stop.

I don't know whether they all see themselves as victims or have found ways of justifying their behaviour. I like to think that regardless of your outcome or their 'public' response, this has been an incredibly uncomfortable journey for them and it HAS made them question their own practice.

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 11:09:08

Thanks. I did write in response to the LA stage 2 response and tell them how awful their papering over failures in provision was. I asked them to share this with their SEN team and said this type of practice must stop and they must start working with me for DS's sake.

Of course, they write back and remind me to go to the LGO if I don't like it so I think they don't give a shit actually.

As for the LGO, they have been even worse than the LA if anything as what is it to them? Why do they care about protecting the LAs so much?

If there was a decent councillor round here I would approach them but they don't want to know.

Boc, the problem is DS is settled where we live and DS2 loves his school so moving is probably not an option. If we had the money I would just get the help we need and do it myself. I was just going to ask for a bit of money for some tutoring now I have an extensive package put to them by optimistic advocates/lawyers who work on the basis that he is entitled to so much more. But actually, they don't know this shower of corrupt shits who would argue about an extra hour of provision rather than concede.

bochead Sat 20-Jul-13 11:16:39

I rang the NAS last week, they are getting used to cases like mine from my LA. It seems my LA work to a formula. WTF are they doing not screaming in the national press about it? Some very nice individuals there but as an organisation they've lost sight of their original charitable purpose imho.

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 11:19:54

Boc this is the frustration I have had with starting a campaign and the blog etc. Certain organisations out there know this is happening but sit comfortably alongside Gov, getting their funding, keeping their mouth shut. Others want a seat at the table, so quietly commiserate with you but won't do anything to publicly rock the boat.

The trouble with that is that you silence parents. So we are battling these massive public institutions AND the organisations who are supposed to be advocating for us and who should be shouting loudly about this.

bochead Sat 20-Jul-13 11:21:12

"If we had the money I would just get the help we need and do it myself."

this!^^

I think I've accepted that not only are we not going to get the help, but that the fun of the witch hunt has become a key objective for certain profs. I'm leaving behind my whole life, family (inc a SN sibling) friends etc, etc not through choice but because I can't sit and watch them destroy a child. At this point it's about survival, education etc is no longer the top priority. A child needs to be safe before they can learn anything.

bochead Sat 20-Jul-13 11:25:20

They aren't the only org, I've experienced this from either in recent months. Words can't describe my disgust that major organisations KNOW kids are being treated like this and don't scream about it.

Only ONE of the key charities has been willing to stick their necks out.

Our children are NOT commodities upon which to base your next promotion. The general public would I'm sure refuse to donate if they knew the half of what some (not the NAS this time) are willing to cover up.

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 11:47:32

I know Boc. People sit on fat salaries as directors of these organisations too but prioritise their own organisation's or personal image as a 'mover and shaker' with the well-connected above children's rights.

The number of organisations who have not even considered the implications for children's rights of the SEN pilots is shocking, simply shocking. That they should be seen to be 'our voice' makes me frustrated beyond belief.

I am glad that you found even one organisation to be worth it's salt!!

I agree about the fun of the 'witch hunt'. I believe the LA perceive this all as a very personal battle with me and that they want to teach me a lesson. That they should also see themselves as 'victims' annoys me beyond belief.

Silencing people when they are being bullied like this is unforgivable.

ouryve Sat 20-Jul-13 12:54:10

All I can say, IE, is that I admire your stamina. It seems completely relentless.

And that, despite SEN COP saying it has to be arranged from the day the statement is issued, it is reasonable for LAs to take 4 or 5 months. Not because of any pressing emergency but just because, well that sounds reasonable....

What might take several months is big things like recruiting staff (they may have to give notice and not be able to start until the following term, specialist provision may have to wait until someone already on payroll has a free slot etc), arranging and attending training (tend to be fixed dates, whole school training would need an INSET day etc) or ordering resources which aren't available off the shelf. What is utterly inexcusible, though, is doing absolutely nothing and pretending that the doing nothing is justified and within the spririt of the law.

ouryve Sat 20-Jul-13 12:58:52

As for the LGO, they have been even worse than the LA if anything as what is it to them? Why do they care about protecting the LAs so much?

Funnily enough, I was reading about something similar re drug companies and drug regulators in Bad Pharma, last night. Firstly, they're all mates. They may have worked together in the past and they may get pally through the course of their negotiations. Secondly, people working for the regulators find it very difficult to be even slightly heavy handed with those that they're regulating because they don't want to scupper their chances if they ever want to get back into the industry, directly.

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 13:34:40

Ouryve - this is it. If they came back and said, yes it's taken x months but this is because the LA did x,y and z. You might think 'fair enough'. It would be a lie, but fair enough.

But they have offered no reason just that it is reasonable for provision to take months to set up per se.

This is why we were challenging it. Be warned, the LGO is not looking for reasons - in my case they never even asked to see the LA file. In two and a half years, they sent 2 letters (1 to school and 1 to the LA) but they never even asked for the file or asked what did you do to set this provision up?

The LGO just change the judgment every time we challenge to take the obviously unlawful bits which demonstrate how they've reached their reasoning unlawfully and without evidence but the decision remains the same and this must be affected by the flawed reasoning.

For example, in their first decision they said it always takes time in every case so a few months delay is to be expected.

Also, there is a very strong argument that the whole SA and drafting of the statement process takes months so it is not as if LAs are taken by surprise when a statement is issued so that they suddenly have to start instructing SLTs etc! There is a strong legal argument that, to act in accordance with the law, the LAs should be putting in place arrangements for the beginning of the statement as the law allows no 'best endeavours' defence for the lack of statement provision.

But this is where the LGO distinguishes between 'arranging' and 'delivering'. On their reasoning, it is fine if the LA simply write letters and arrange appointments. They are not interested at all in whether this actually leads to the child receiving the service. It's a totally insane situation which effectively deprives a child of its rights.

I think they are also scared of upsetting LAs and once they have taken a position it is easier to piss of the complainant and hold fast to their untenable position than to change that position and piss of the LA.

Also, they know jack shit about education law. The woman who did the two final decisions actually said in her covering letter for the first, if you appeal to Tribunal, it is reasonable for LAs not to put provision in place until the Tribunal case has been dealt with.

This is a senior investigator whose report, by that time, must have gone through senior staff.

What a crock of shit

IE, What are you trying to achieve?

I ask because dh and I were talking about your story today and he asked and I wasn't sure.

He suggested that it was like you had gone underground to a dark network of caves world full of dodgy dealings and as you passed through each one you were switching a light on.

When you do, the light sometimes shows a hidden passageway you didn't know about, so you go there and turn the light on too.

Those in the caves, now exposed, act like mad people trying to hide what they were doing and create shadows. They'll never admit to what they were doing because they don't even like to admit it to themselves.

He suggested that though you are frustrated at the LGOs refusal to give you more time and ignoring of your communications, the request and subsequent refusal was another light you had turned on and that actually, it was a fortunate opportunity. If you follow that passage-way who knows what you'll find. Possibly more than you expected, probably more secret passageways.

The key question then, is who is taking this opportunity to 'see'? Or who might do should you continue to turn on lights? And is that all you want - people to see? (aside from the usual boring stuff about your child being safe and having access to an adequate education etc.)

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 19:14:49

There are three motivators really:

1. Challenging wrongness and unlawfulness because it should be challenged, because if you don't, the bullies get an even easier ride then they get at the moment - not enough of a motivator to drive you on this journey by itself perhaps, but it is one for me. Standing up to bullies, because you should stand up to bullies.

2. Trying to expose unlawfulness but realising that the whole system is against you so this is not easy. I share here because that is a way of exposing this and there will be other ways. Not easy, but I look at Hillsborough and people died there.

3. I have to stand up for my child. This won't go away even if I ignore the unlawful practices and pay for things myself without complaint because the LA won't let it go away. They act, constantly, unlawfully. I would move but I can't. DS has friends and DS2 loves his school. So I am stuck. If there is no flight, I can only fight.

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 19:27:08

And every time you don't cover your back or fight, they will shaft you. They lie, lie, lie, lie all the time. It doesn't matter if you have school, EP, SLT and OT all on your side, they will find a way of making you fight.

So what else can I do? Everything is cause and effect. The LGO's failure to find maladministration initially led to the vexatious determination. Evidence about the vexatious determination undermined me with oversight bodies. The LGO's incompetence has also empowered the LA to do what it wants and lie with abandon and complete disregard as to whether DS has any provision.

So, if I am in a network of tunnels, I was put there. There is an interlinking chain of lights and each is set off by the consequence of the last poor or deceitful decision. Consequences that I have to suffer. So the lights don't expose shadowy figures (I suspected them to be there anyway). Those shadowy figures are turning on the lights. The lights shine on me and my son - making sure I know that they have the power and all I need to do to get out of the uncomfortable spotlight is run away.

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 19:30:12

But run to where? Another shadowy cave where the light will still find me?

They want you to run away?

When will this be over? Or are you keeping it ticking along until you see a chance at something that will make an impact?

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 19:45:15

It will never be over. Realistically, there is no way out.

All I can do is stand and fight. But I am trying to find constructive ways of doing that as you know.

Yes.

TBH I don't think it can ever be over for many of us. I've been lucky (fought hard and made sacrifices for my luck, but still lucky) to have secured a lull but the past is still following me, and there will be shit to face soon enough.

I don't know when you realise it. Probably some way into year 2 of fighting you understand that a win isn't even a win, and that your journey will never be over.

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 20:15:35

I know. We are in Y4 now of 'the fight' and I know I can't change the systemic deceit and the lies and the incompetence. But I know that I can't just take it because it will have consequences.

WetAugust Sat 20-Jul-13 22:58:35

Hi AE

My own battle with the Ombudsman took almost 3 years (I can't remember the actual time length as it's starting to blur nicely in my memory).

I met with the same refusal to acknowledge SN law as you did. One of the farces was about the Year 9 transition review. My son did not have one as the full extent of his SNs were not revealed until Year 10 - so he missed the Year 9 review. As soon as I knew the extent of his problems I asked for a transition review. I was told I couldn't have one as they are only held in Year 9. The whole bloody point of holding them in Year 9 is to give all the agencies plenty of time to plan post-16 provision. If a child's needs are not identified until after the Year 9 then the need for planning becomes even more urgent - or so I thought. LGO thought otherwise - no SNs in Year 9 = no transition review post Year 9. Totally pedantic and completely missing the spirit of the SEN COP.

But forcing your point to the LGO is like talking to the terminally thick sad

I don't need to tell you that most LGO are ex-LA (with a mindset to match).

I applaud your reasons for continuing this battle but feel you are wasting precious time on this that you could be enjoying with your child. You are legally trained and have had a huge amount of assistance (comparatively) in fighting you case - and they still won't budge. Why not? Because they quite simply are bomb-proof.

The Govt has no wish to uncover the full extent of SEN failings. The charities have no appetite for a long costly legal battle. Parents cannot single-handedly change the system. They just pick you off.

I too wondered if the LGO had ever read the SEN COP. I had to send them the relevant sections of the SEN Toolkit as it seemed a stranger to them.

And even if you do "win" you end up with a couple of hundred pounds and a grudging apology from the LA - if you're lucky.

The only way to change this stinking corrupt system is from 'without', i.e. via the European Court and human rights law. So failure to make provision would fall under the 'right to an education' and cases could be taken to Strassbourg.

Can we not do that now and bypass the LGO?

WetAugust Sat 20-Jul-13 22:59:54

Sorry - I meant IE

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 23:04:22

Wet, have you seen the judgments on the right to education? Not helpful - see A v Essex County Council here

I know what you mean and believe me, I am not trying to get 'justice' through this battle. I have other things I am doing as many on here know to raise awareness about broader issues and to campaign and to research and publish academically.

It is not about winning. I long gave up home of that. But these bastards are still messing with my family and this will be used against me as it always is.

You fought for three years. Why did you not walk away?

bochead Sat 20-Jul-13 23:22:32

The Czechoslovakian gov is taking the UK to court over our family court & care system in Europe. If they win it will affect ALL children in the UK, not just Czech's. I think we breach what they consider to be some fundamental human rights that other EU countries do respect.

I wonder if the way forward is to find a willing non-UK passport holder and a friendly European lawyer to act as a test case for some of the key areas of the SN system too.

Tell me if you think I'm being daft as I'm no legal eagle, but it's become obvious that this isn't a fight that can be won "from within". I'm increasingly starting to feel that the SN industry needs an outside spotlight shone on it as the only way forward towards real progress.

WetAugust Sat 20-Jul-13 23:29:41

I didn't walk away because I promised the bastards that when DS was finally provided with a residential placement (funded by the LS&C) that I would "have them". I even told them that in writing [grim]. It would have disappointed them if I'd gone quietly grin

I also had quite a bit of free time when son was boarding and I was still as mad as hell about the way I'd (he'd) been treated.

I saw it as a sort of game of tennis when we convened every month or so for another game or, if the correspondence was flowing freely, we might play a full set grin They too tried to take their bat and ball home a couple of times by attempting to force their decision on me - so had to fight those off.

I also had a very pressing ulterior motive as I was building a legally-aided case for educational negligence in parallel with the LGO complaint. The solicitors were handling the litigation and I was handling the LGO case on my own.

The way it panned out was that the LGO found in my favour just before we submitted the letter before case (I think it was called that). By that time we'd had all the specialist medical assessments etc done so were ready to file our claim. I felt that if the LGO upheld my complaint it would strengthen the negligence case. I don't know if it did or not but it told the LA that I was not a pushover and having battled them for 3 years via the LGO, I would take the legal action as far as I could. They settled as soon as they received the Letter before claim.

My LGO action also kept the LA solicitors busy for a few years - time they would have otherwise spent intimidating other parents. grin

It did take its toll. I have suffered constant ill health since the SN battle started 10 years ago: anxiety, insomnia, gall bladder op, knee trouble and finally the cancer. I can't help thinking that those early years of prolonged stress, anxiety, frustration and anger may have caused some of my lasting illnesses.

inappropriatelyemployed Sat 20-Jul-13 23:57:55

Boc - not sure what the case is but is it an EU rather than an ECHR case? Send me a link. Countries can't really take each other to court but if the UK breaches EU law it can have infringement proceedings taken against it. There's no EU law relating to education.

The reality is , if we want a spotlight shining on it, WE will have to do it. No one else will. Charities, the press etc they are just not interested in SEN.

Wet - so you can understand how tough it is to walk away? These bastards have left my son without provision twice in three years and they just ignore complaints. Walking away is not likely to help this. I need to think laterally about this.

WetAugust Sun 21-Jul-13 00:08:09

IE

Have read the A v Essex case you linked for me.

Personally I think it's a very poor case. We've seen much stronger cases on here. The child actually had access to some education and even at his old school. We've had cases on here with nil education over a prolonged period. I can imagine that when the placement at his initial school broke down the LA would need time to re-assess him, make enquiries of potential placements and jump through the SS and other agency hoops that are necessary before making a residential placement. Add in the summer holidays and it's not too long for what is obviously a very complex case requiring residential etc. One can only wonder whether the child should ever have been in their original non-specialist placement.

So it's all about access to education rather than actually accessing education. hmm What a cop out!

It doesn't state whether that education should be public or privately funded.

Anyway, a poor case and it's only the judgement of the Supreme Court. A stronger case could be appealed to Europe if necessary.

WetAugust Sun 21-Jul-13 00:10:36

IE Was he left totally without education?

Is JR a High Court action? What's the appeal route from JR?

It's a while since I studied law (at night school)

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 08:32:54

The child in A had 18 months without effectuve education. This may be clearer here or you can read the case here

I agree the child needed highly specialist care and education but I would guess he was in the placement he was because of the LA in the first place. In any case, you will be up against an LA lying and making up reasons for not educating someone.

The case does leave a chink of light for others as they were out of time for a HRA case and the court would not extend time but, it is not a case of saying 'it's just the supreme court'. Appealing from the Supreme Court to the ECtHR is not at all easy as the ECtHR weeds out cases before it agrees to hear them. The Supreme Court is our top domestic court.

Yes, I agree, it is not impossible but it is not an easy option and as we know LAs will lie about finding resources or the specialist nature of the services they are required to offer etc etc

JR decisions are appealable on a point of law to the Court of Appeal.

bochead Sun 21-Jul-13 10:37:04

IE - when I'm not snowed under with my own crisis, I WILL research it for you as I'm almost convinced that Europe is the only way to sort out UK culture iyswim. It needs a radical culture change from the very top in the same way that H&S or pollution in certain industries did.

We can fight yes, but all we can do is chip away, what's needed is a demolition ball swung right through some key government departments.

I'd like to know how you challenge the lies, as when you uncover summat at school level everyone in the LA just closes ranks too. It's crazy.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 10:43:03

I think we just have to keep on telling the truth publicly as everyone else wants to focus on the good they find.

AgnesDiPesto Sun 21-Jul-13 10:56:33

The draft SEN COP for the new Bill says
Local authorities must arrange the special educational provision and may arrange the social care provision specified in the plan, from the date on which the plan is made. Clinical commissioning groups must arrange the health services specified in the plan, from the date on which the plan is made.
Will that be an improvement in 2014?
There is a minimum 15 days between a draft and final plan so I can see there may be cases eg to employ a TA where it could take longer than 15 days especially in the scenario where a parent has perhaps asked for changes to the draft plan for a TA with specific experience.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 11:14:55

But Agnes, SEN COP already says at 8.109 that LAs must ‘arrange the special educational provision...from the date on which the statement is made’.

The LGO just say 'arrange' does not mean 'deliver'.

So what DOES the LGO think is an acceptable time frame between arrange and deliver? 18 years? 18 months?

On what basis? Is it the same for everyone? or down to the discretion of them/ the LA? If so, what is the frigging POINT of a statement?

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 11:38:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WetAugust Sun 21-Jul-13 11:42:29

I still think that A was a weak case to bring. When my DS was 'out of school' ther was no way he could have returned to his mainstream school for some activities. I also had a very clear cut case of LA acknowledging that he needed specialist residential education and that they were refusing to pay for it as, in 6 months time, when he was 16, he would no longer be there responsibility and that residential accommodation would be funded by the LS&C. That's a failure to provide in my book. They could have but chose not to - so DS met the criteria in that A v Essex ruling in that the education was there but he was denied it through the refusal of the LA to fund it. And there are more clear cut examples of failing to provide out there - and must be known to the educational lawyers.

I wouldn't be too sure that the European Court would dismiss an SEN case. At that level it's all about politics. Britain does not like the European Court and I am sure the European Court would not miss an opportunity to make law that Britain would not find palatable, and they do have a track record on such laws e.g. prisoners votes, compensation for overdue prison stays etc.

The way ahead is a clear cut case taken to Europe.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 11:49:11

Sorry Wet but I think your perception of the ECtHR is completely wrong.

The ECtHR is not an activist court at all and I say that as a human rights lawyer. It is entirely deferential and the judgments you quote are based on deviations from basic legal norms where we are so far apart from agreed standards of justice (or had brought in new law which deviates from it) as to leave the court no choice.

I am sure you are right that there are more clear cut cases but the principle of the right to education is a qualified right which means the courts apply the doctrine of the 'margin of appreciation' deferring to the national courts and allowing arguments about resources etc. They are unlikely to get involved unless there is a blatant breach.

In any event, you can't go straight to the ECtHR with a new case. You have to take it through the domestic system and this is governed by precedent

There is ground to challenge and find space within the the A ruling but I actually feel the Equality Act is a much better basis for action than the HRA.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 11:49:54

It also takes YEARS to get a case to the ECtHR at the moment with backlogs in the tens of thousands. It is a most inefficient mechanism

WetAugust Sun 21-Jul-13 13:02:02

Soonest started.....grin

caringcarrotcruncher Sun 21-Jul-13 14:42:28

'I'd like to know how you challenge the lies, as when you uncover summat at school level everyone in the LA just closes ranks too'.

Agreed, however I have an interesting situation.
LA Managers have, in writing, confirmed an action taken on such and such a date.
School,in writing,to the court, have said I am incorrect and that it in fact did not happen on that date.
LA Manager has then said, in writing, that the school is mistaken with the date.
I know that I am correct with my facts but both parties are saying in writing that the other one is wrong confused. If they are both claiming the other one is wrong then how do you obtain the truth? It doesn't help that the action was unlawful so obviously a desperate cover up is needed but they can't even get that right! No wonder they are trying to get this struck out by the court as 'irrelevant'!

WetAugust Sun 21-Jul-13 16:43:21

Even hard evidence gets overlooked by the LGO Cruncher so he said she saids are pretty irrelevant.

I spent almost 4 decades working within public bodies. They tick along relentlessly and have perfected means of dealing with the disaffected - be they staff or customers. Ignore, obfuscate, prevaricate and, if all else fails , lie.

They won't be challenged from within - that would be career suicide so turning the eye is pretty rife.

They also work in a 'no blame culture'. Officially! So even if they do totally balls-up there are absolutely no penalties for doing so.

Depressing.

Badvoc Sun 21-Jul-13 18:09:12

IE....I am appalled at all this. I'm so sorry.
But it makes me even more sure I did the right thing by opting out.
Like others on this thread i have made huge sacrifices to enable my son to access education. I have home schooled, moved home and LA and schools.
And I would do it again before dealing with these people.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 18:18:24

Here is some of the gems I have had to put up with. In one decisions:

“A finalised statement may be challenged at first tier tribunal and the tribunal may order different provision. While exploring availability of provision is sensible, to seek to set it in place when it may be over-turned, for example on appeal, is not. It could also deprive other children of provision they need. In my view it would not be a sensible commitment of multi-agency resources until the Statement is agreed.”

Seriously. Seriously??? These people are paid for this crap.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 18:20:17

Sorry for typos - here ARE some of the gems. In one decision

Being typing all day.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 18:23:05

Another genius puts:

"delay in statementing cases is clearly inevitable"

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 18:24:35

"Issues of disability discrimination need to be raised with the first tier tribunal – I am sorry – the Local Government Ombudsman cannot help you"

Is that what they say in their quarterly meetings with the Equality and Human Rights Commission about their human rights focussed work?

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 18:27:10

Oh and this piece de resistance of impartial decison-making when trying to justify the LA's vexatious determination:

"The volume of correspondence to the council, which your solicitor says was not inappropriate, was perceived as such by council officers which led to the request for your contact to be restricted. In the relatively short period of time I have been involved in your case, you have sent me multiple emails and you have copied me into emails to other agencies over which the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction."

Her allegations were entirely untrue. She was forced to confirm my correspondence was nothing but reasonable but then said she had 'deleted the emails' she had referred to as me copying in other agencies. Complete and utter lies.

WTF!

This is not about resources, this is about sheer incompetence, partiality and collusion. And no basic understanding of the law

Badvoc Sun 21-Jul-13 18:46:49

But you and I know it absolutely is about resources IE.
That has been my experience at 2 different schools in 2 different LAs.
There is no money, no resources and no qualified staff to deliver provision.
I have been in the very twilight zone position of having teachers telling me my child is struggling, to a teacher and HT telling me that my child was making progress (when they demonstrably weren't), to a Senco telling me they had no concerns to an EP dx severe dyslexia all within the space of 3 months.
I was then told at a meeting that I needed to accept that the lowest sets might be "where my ds belonged".
He was 7 years old sad
Nothing surprises me anymore sadly.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 18:51:12

These statements are from the LGO not a school. This is not about LGO staffing resources is what I meant.

This is about lying.

Badvoc Sun 21-Jul-13 18:55:56

Yes.
They lie.
All the time.
And it's dreadful that they get away with it.
You're right, it's a no blame culture that is to blame (pardon the pun)

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 19:46:18

I'm not sure it's the no blame culture which green-lights this. It's poor management and lack of oversight at the LGO.

It's because when I sat in a room at the House of Commons with a bunch of Labour MPs, various SEN charities, LA Directors, SEN Law firms and a few parents to talk about how we should make improvements to the system it was clear that the shocking stories that came out were of no surprise to anyone, and old news.

It's because the people in that room LET us get where we are today. It is THEIR fault. THEY are responsible. The people in that room. Why can't they see that when they are bleating on about how OTHER people should organise themselves?

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 20:05:30

Absolutely.

inappropriatelyemployed Sun 21-Jul-13 22:19:00

Little fockers. At least going through this I have found a letter written to LA in March 2012 saying DS has no OT. So much for saying there was an |AR in March 2012 and it was never mentioend.

nennypops Mon 22-Jul-13 23:52:45

IE: But Agnes, SEN COP already says at 8.109 that LAs must ‘arrange the special educational provision...from the date on which the statement is made’.

The LGO just say 'arrange' does not mean 'deliver'.

Oh, FGS. What the hell do they think the purpose of SEN provision is? Why do they think the legislation says that LAs have an ongoing duty to identify and meet SEN needs? Taking that to its logical conclusion, LAs would never have to provide what's in Part 3, they could go for years saying "We've arranged it but we just haven't got round to delivering it, too bad, get lost."

And don't they realise that, by definition, if you've had to go to tribunal and have achieved an improved statement as a result, that must mean that the child has been wrongly deprived of the correct provision ever since the statement was put in place? So that maybe it's quite important to get the correct support in place quickly?

As for that idea that it's a waste of time to organise support if the parent is appealing, just how often do they imagine that tribunals actually decide that, say, speech therapy is totally unnecessary and take it away? They're far more likely to order that it be increased.

Sorry, I know that I'm ranting to the converted, but really the total lack of logic here makes me want to shout, and to shake those officials warmly by the throat.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Jul-13 08:48:17

This is my huge frustration. Their lawyers are either deliberately avoiding dealing with this issue or they don't have a clue. I would suggest the latter given what they have written which is clearly wrong in law.

So what do you do when the lawyers are wrong? The LGO try to suggest that this is some complicated legal question or some personal dispute between myself and them. But they are so far away from the correct position in law it is clear that they are failing lots of children.

The comment about not putting provision in place because there is a Tribunal pending is sheer nonsense, demonstrating a complete lack of understanding. It was retracted after I paid for a pre-action protocol letter. But why should I pay to tell them the law?

This comment was by a senior investigator on the schools team under the oversight of an Asssitant Ombudsman.

They haven't a bloody clue and it s scary because you end up having one of those ridiculous conversatiins where they suggest 'we will have to agree to disagree' but you know they are clearly wrong in law.

So I managed to put submissions together by working a 12 hour day at the weekend. Not what I would hav written if I'd had time. Is been filed one day after the arbitrary deadline, so can't have caused any prejudice or inconvenience by being slightly late. Let us see if they even read it.

In particular, I would like them to explain how making a vexatious determination as 'last resort' as required by the LA policy is complied with by issuing the determination out of the blue. The LGO just will not address this as it makes it clear the LA did not act in accordance with their policy. Why didn't they? Well because it was not about 'focussing correspondence' (if it was you just ask someone before labelling them) - this was about vilifying me before a Tribunal.

I suspect agreement was reached with the LA about how this matter would be settled via a local settlement and LGO have not wanted to unpick it so have produced ridiculous statements to support their position. I have asked for information from the case file but they have ignored me.

As fro the new complaint about failure to deliver the OT and the lies about that, I wrote to the LGO yesterday and said - there you go, LA is lying and won't deal with me, refuses to discuss it or meet and sends me an LGO leaflet. What would YOU do about an LA who acts like this? Interestingly, going back through my emails, I actually wrote to the LGO at the time of the provision failure and asked for advice. They said issue a new complaint and I didn't as we were only 12 months into our battle on the last one but I copied to them the letter sent to the LA telling them what was not in place.

A letter the LA have forgotten about when its writes at stage 2 complaint level and said no one ever mentioned it to them.

claw2 Tue 23-Jul-13 09:39:50

IE, all I have been met with at a much lower level than where you are at, is lies despite overwhelming written evidence that it is a lie, covering up, paperwork disappearing etc, then unfounded allegations against me and the fact I can prove these allegations are unfounded ie I have written evidence, they have nothing other than 'we say it happened'

I really don't know how you deal with it or how any parent can win when people are prepared to lie and cover up.

I have made complaints, all totally ignored, not even acknowledged through both myself and my solicitor at the time. My complaints have never been dealt with. However my complaints have changed the way I am dealt with from NOW.

Would you be happy if none of your complaints were ever dealt with properly, BUT your ds started to receive appropriate support from this moment forward?

That is what I settled for.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Jul-13 09:49:43

I think the two things are linked, they lie because they don't want to put in place appropriate provision. And every time they are vindicated they get worse.

However, I think it is a natural reaction (self-preservation!) to walk away to protect your sanity when your child has suitable provision.

But I also think this is why these bodies act the way they do and why they have gotten away with it for so long.

So I am here for the long haul, for as long as far as it can go, no matter what happens with schooling. Because this is about unlawful practices and depriving children of their basic rights.

There is more to challenging this than complaints policies and shining a light on it is key in my book so I do what I can in that regard too as so many 'parent' groups and charities aren't remotely interested in talking about the bad stuff.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Jul-13 09:52:06

This is not about getting my son the right provision. I can do that myself by home schooling.

There are broader rights and wrongs at play. If I can't get the LGO to accept that, then I can at least make the point and expose my experience.

I can also write and research in the area.

claw2 Tue 23-Jul-13 10:05:08

Good for you IE, you really are a pioneer and I am in awe of you. I took the easy way out and let my principles fall at the road side! for a few reasons really a) im really not as smart as you b) I couldn't afford to do much else, financially, emotionally and in ds's best interests to keep him safe.

I really hope you have success.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Jul-13 10:17:55

Claw, its really not about being smarter or more principled or anything else. It's about not being able to let it go, because, it's wrong and I didn't train as a lawyer to deal with rights issues so that I can do that in my work life but ignore it when it happens outside work.

Like witnessing racism, or sexism, or seeing someone punched in the street, I can't walk away and say nothing and feel I have any credibility to be the person I purport to be.

claw2 Tue 23-Jul-13 10:26:41

Ok having more knowledge or the tools to deal with it ie your training. What happened to us was wrong, I had to pay for someone with that knowledge and I simply couldn't afford to do it anymore.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Jul-13 10:32:45

I've had to pay for that too Claw as even though I'm a lawyer, they don't listen to me! Neither the LA or LGO. In fact, as you say, they ignore your lawyers complaints and the LGO have not even responded to mine.

So this has brought me no advantage but it has brought a lot of frustration.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Jul-13 10:34:01

I've had to instruct lawyers and rely on their good will to deal with the LGO. But they are still ignored!

Claw You will do it. You DO do it.

Perhaps not on the impressive scale of IE, but you chip away too now and then. Sometimes on here, sometimes with a conversation in a park with a stranger. It makes a difference.

You'll get to know people at the school gates who you can point to IE's blog. You'll complete a survey, write a story. Not now perhaps, but one day.

I hope that you do move on from this and can distance yourself from the nightmare, but at the same time it will never leave you. How could it?

claw2 Tue 23-Jul-13 10:58:30

Yea, I suppose stories like mine, will help IE in the long run and im glad of that at least.

I think I have moved on Star, maybe not in exactly the way I would have liked to have moved on, I have had to compromise where compromises shouldn't have had to be made, but it is the past now.

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Jul-13 14:58:30

Star is right. The fact that I won't let it lie (and that is what I am like but it is not necessarily the best way to be in life for sure!) doesn't mean that if you need to move on and put it behind you for the sake of your own sanity, you should NEVER feel bad about that.

The only people who have anything to reproach themselves with are the people who do this to us.

And yes, your story is not one which is easily forgotten and it definitely informs my determination and everything I do. As do the stories of all the brave women on here.

hoxtonbabe Tue 23-Jul-13 17:54:50

IE, Could you not JR the LGO decision? The same crap happened to me and my solicitor was going to JR it, the problem is the funding was denied because the stupid solicitor didn't make certain information/evidence clear to the legal aid folk, and when i pointed this out she said "well I cant challenge the Legal aid people" I was so annoyed, but the point I am making is that the LGO can also be JR for this madness (unless the recent changes have effected this)

inappropriatelyemployed Tue 23-Jul-13 18:10:03

Yes it can and we can still consider it after their review. Don't want to say too much more on a public site.

TOWIELA Wed 24-Jul-13 19:18:43

If I had a hat, I'd take it off to you IE. Although I'm currently in a post-tribunal haze of wanting to back off to lick my wounds and recover, when I read your messages, you fire me up again! Then, just when I think the crap (for me, for the time-being) is over, I have days of Working Document hell with the LA using the wrong mark-up formatting indicating that we'd agreed to stuff at the Tribunal which we hadn't.

I guess this crap is never over.

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 24-Jul-13 20:18:46

No, it's not. This is the problem.

Two weeks ago at a meeting at school that the LA finally bothered to turn up to, it was agreed that they would address provision for DS who has been out of school since May. They would do this by end of July.

Of course, they were forced to do this but it makes them look so reasonable. I know it was crap and, sure enough, today I get an email from education officer saying it had all gone to 'senior officers' but it was holiday time and cos of annual leave, they wouldn't get round to looking at it for 'some weeks'.

I email back and say this isn't good enough we need a timeframe.

Get auto response saying education officer is no longer working for the council. No contact details for anyone else. He must have sent it and buggered off.

So two weeks later, no further forward, if I keep chasing, they'll just count letters and call me vexatious again. Look at all the letters/emails you have written, how dare you!

I have sent this to the LGO and the stuff about the OT crap and said, come on, what am I supposed to do about these twunts.

2tirednot2fight Thu 25-Jul-13 20:59:52

Hi IE,

received my LGO review report and just as in your case the officer completely agrees with everything the initial investigator found and fails to mention the differing views of the tribunal in relation to failure to make the provision in part 3. LGO blames school in its report, tribunal places responsibility on the LA in its Order. Child in the middle losing out!

So......... Email sent to solicitor asking for JR pre proceedings protocol letter to be written. I feel like walking away but like you am reluctant to let this drop without a better explanation as to why they refuse to even address the issues raised.

How are you getting on with progressing yours?

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 25-Jul-13 21:27:02

Case review request and complaint gone in. Ass Ombudsman is just ignoring us now - it's so unprofessional.

mymatemax Fri 26-Jul-13 18:09:16

IE, i'm being a bit dopey.
Are you still in dispute because your ds still has not got an appropriate school place or because along the road you have been treated unfairly (understatement I know)

inappropriatelyemployed Fri 26-Jul-13 18:14:56

Yes, I am sure it looks very old and pointless to some.

My dispute with the LGO is because they still haven't dealt with the complaint filed two years ago properly.

Their failure to find maladministration two years ago had a significant impact on us and our ability to fight for our son for all the reasons I have set out.

When you go to these bodies, their decisions live on I am afraid. Especially when you are left dealing with the same LA.

mymatemax Fri 26-Jul-13 18:18:04

so your son has a school place?

You have far more stamina than me smile good luck I hope you get a favourable resolution

inappropriatelyemployed Fri 26-Jul-13 18:20:45

No my son is out of school.

That has nothing to do with a complaint to the LGO. It was not about a school place.

mymatemax Fri 26-Jul-13 18:24:21

Oh I see

inappropriatelyemployed Fri 26-Jul-13 18:25:01

sigh...... it's never ending mymatemax!

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