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Well its tribunal then. (LEA not budging)

(18 Posts)
starfish71 Fri 14-Jan-11 14:42:24

finally spoken to LEA officer after our meeting last week where I will admit he got my hopes up re naming ASD unit in mainstream school and specialist provision before DS starting in Sept.

They won't do this as 'it will send out the wrong message to other parents waiting for an unit placement'. I don't know whether to cry or scream.

I really did think this was a real option but no. Have told him to finalise statement so I can lodge my appeal.

What do I do now? Have emailed SNAP to make an appt with woman who has been great so far asking for advice (she is not in office today).

Is it expensive? Do I need independant reports done? Am scared now.

Going to try calm down while walking down to get DS.

StartingAfresh Fri 14-Jan-11 15:39:44

Starfish, the very first thing you need to do is write to the person who said what you have quoted, telling them that this is what you heard and could they please correct you if you heard it wrong. You need to also say that if this is their policy may you have a copy of the literature where it appears.

Just them knowing that you have this on record might give you a final statement surprise, and will be useful in a tribunal.

It's ridiculous. How is it sending out the wrong message to other parents, unless he corresponds with you via a public forum.

You will need to make use of the charities to give you independent guidance on preparing your case. They will tell you that the minimum expense will be an Educational Psychologist assessment.

In order of importance the costs are roughly:

EP assessment (£500-£800)
EP attendance at tribunal (£500-£800)
Other professional reports supporting your case (£300-£600)
Other professionals at tribunal (£300-£600)
Parent Advocate (£400-£800) or Legal Bod (£3,000 - £7,000).
Preparation of case - Parent Advocate (£400-£1,000) or Legal Bod (£3,000 - £7,000)

Personally, for an ASD unit, provided you have good evidence I would probably aim for an private EP assessment and attendance at tribunal. I'd get one experienced at tribunals as they will know how to ask the right questions and help you cross examine the LA witnesses etc.

No doubt what I have written will piss you off (although I hope I haven't). I'm not even going to get into how unfair it all is.

starfish71 Fri 14-Jan-11 16:38:01

Thanks star. I have just sent an email asking for confirmation of what he said to me.

It is going to be costly isn't it? Oh god.

Have spoken to SENCO and DS's teacher (one and the same) she has never been to tribunal and said the school haven't been to one in the all the time she has worked there (approx 10 years!). Don't know what to make of that one.

My head is spining and feel a bit sick now.

Hope I can do this.

sickofsocalledexperts Fri 14-Jan-11 16:52:19

The advocate I use - Fiona Slomovic - says that sometimes expensive reports are not necessary. She herself is a lot cheaper than a lawyer, as is an advocate (though has full court appearance rights etc) If you google her number will come up - I and several pals of mine have used to her to v good effect, I highly rate her

StartingAfresh Fri 14-Jan-11 16:55:28

Well, I suppose a cheap EP could work out at £1000 all in for report and tribunal. Not saying that isn't a significant amount of money, but the way I could justify the expense is thinking about the thousands of pounds I might have to spend in 10 years time if I have to get in lots of specialist help and/or have to replace my own and other peoples broken or destroyed things through behaviour outbursts, - simply because ds didn't have the right intervention when he was younger.

And wrt whether you can do it? Who knows? But practise makes perfect and there is no law to say you can only go to tribunal once.

starfish71 Fri 14-Jan-11 17:15:38

Thanks sickofsocalledexperts will look her up.

Star I will do this and we have a bit of savings which will at least cover an EP.

I have in writing from the LEA that DS is on the waiting list for placement so they have admitted he needs it just he can wait until at least til 2012 which is when there 'may' be placements. It is disgusting. getting angry now.

WetAugust Fri 14-Jan-11 17:20:19

I would follow the email to the LA up with a formal letter - emails are not the vehicle for gathering evidence.

Quote what they said in your appeal and also add the evidence that shows they know he needs an ASD placement.

I think you have a stong case with evidence that has already been documented by the LA.

Best wishes

daisy5678 Fri 14-Jan-11 17:24:16

I don't think that you need to pay for a Tribunal unless you are asking for something complex or horrifically expensive OR your child's needs are debatable (from LA's p.o.v.).

If it's all about placement and waiting list and they agree he needs it, there is no need to get an EP to prove needs. That's only my opinion but also in my experience iyswim.

sickofsocalledexperts Fri 14-Jan-11 17:24:31

Sometimes just getting Fiona on board to fire off a letter on legal letterhead is all it takes... I have used her but never got as far as tribunal, as they see I mean business as soon as she accompanies me to a meeting or sends a letter. She told me not to bother with EP reports but of course every case is different

StartingAfresh Fri 14-Jan-11 17:29:52

Actually giveme is right. You may well get away with no EP since the evidence is already there. I suppose I would want to guard agains the LA backtracking with their recommendations etc though given I know someone who's paed took away the dx in the face of a tribunal but I would expect that to be quite rare and in the face of much more expensive provision.

Agnesdipesto Fri 14-Jan-11 23:31:41

I agree get a solicitors or advocates letter.

This guy is just pulling your chain. The unit is so full all the other parents would kick off over an extra child, yet there might be a place in Sept - but there are lots of other parents who might also be waiting. You just need to show this guy you know your rights and the law.

Your situation is different than mine because they AGREE your child needs asd unit - my LEA pretended that my son didn't. What does Part 3 etc say? What are they going to put in Part 4 if not a unit? I think you have them over a barrel. If they have said a unit in writing how can they write something different in the statement?

They have to meet need, it is a legal duty. They have known the need ever since they got the reports. They are breaking the law every day that goes past not meeting your child's needs. If they write a statement that they know will not meet need they are breaking the law. You just need to get tough on this. If they do not now issue the statement on time go to the Local Govt Ombudsman immediately.

If they issue a statement that says anything other than specialist asd provision I would consider threatening judicial review. In fact you could ring around Education Solicitors and ask if any do JR as you can get legal aid for that (its the child's income I think that counts but check this). I reckon a Solicitors letter and contacting the MP may be enough.

Most of us have the situation where the LA pretend the needs are much less than they are - yours has been really stupid as they accept autism specific education is necessary but then told you they have no intention of providing it. Your case would be stronger if you can find an alternative eg a private school that has places which you would be happy with. Or an ABA provider who would go into mainstream.

They are also probably breaching your child's human right to an education by the way.

They cannot say there is a lack of resources - the courts have made this clear. They can hire an extra autism teacher even if that teacher has to turn up to your house every day.

Sorry but I knew they would not put it in the statement - it would be legal suicide. But you have it in writing and you may not need to go to tribunal you may just need to get tough now and get a good sounding legal letter. You also need to type up now all the conversations you have had where they said a unit was needed but no place available. They will most likely deny they ever said this. I think this is why they are delaying / having meetings etc. They have put it in writing and can't take it back but now can't issue a statement that says the opposite - and if they issue the statement with the unit they have to provide it and they can't. Also how can they go to tribunal and argue against something they have already agreed is necessary.

Look at this

"for disabled children with special educational needs which are substantial enough to require their LEA to ‘determine’ the provision necessary to meet them through a making and maintaining a statement of special educational needs (SSEN), there is an absolute duty on the authority under s 324(5)(a)(i) of the Education Act (EA) 1996 to ‘arrange’ this provision. This duty only arises if (i) the local authority has accepted (or been required to accept by the Tribunal) that the child requires a statutory assessment and (ii) following the assessment the authority then accepts (or is required to accept by the Tribunal) that the child’s needs are such that a SSEN is required. In R (N) v North Tyneside Borough Council (IPSEA Intervening)10 the Court of Appeal recently re-asserted the absolute nature of the duty to ‘arrange’ (in
practice fund) the provision set out in parts 3 and 4 of a child’s SSEN.11 Lord Justice Sedley reminded local authorities that ‘there is no best endeavours defence in the legislation’ in relation to any failure to implement the provision specified in a statement.

So its an ABSOLUTE duty and NO BEST ENDEAVOURS DEFENCE.
Of course you don't have it in the statement but you have it in writing that that it should be on the statement and would be if a place was available, how are they going to defend that?

They won't want to go to court / tribunal by the way. Seriously as soon as a Solicitor or MP contacts them and points out they are breaking the law I would hope that a place will turn up. But find a plan b - even if if costs £100k a year.

I think this guy would make me go to a meeting with a tape recorder!

If your LA has a whole list of children sat on a waiting list then there is a good chance your MP has been contacted by other parents. The MP needs to know loads of kids are sat on lists with no provision.

You need proper advice - not just me sounding off with my little bit of knowledge!

silverfrog Fri 14-Jan-11 23:42:38

agree with agnes.

if you have got the La to admit ASd specific then you are half way there. it is now their duty ot provide you with this place.

that's how we won our case - little by little. LA said dd1 needed ASD specific, but they didn't have a place for her.

so we pushed for extraordinary funding for an independent place (if the LA thinks your ds should be in an ASD specific placememt, then they are obliged to provide).

once that funding was approved (our LA had no choice, as above), we pushed ofr out of county placement (since there was none suitable within county)

and then once out of county had been approved, we managed ot get them to name our choice rather than their choice.

get the admission your ds needs ASD specific in writing asap (emial will do if needs must, but paper better), and, just as importnatly, get the admission they have no place available in writing too.

then you can start ont eh chain of making htem provide hwat they have said he needs

starfish71 Sat 15-Jan-11 10:15:43

Thank you all so much for replying and giving me advice. I will re-read it all through the weekend and start preparing myself and then get an appt with an education solicitor (have heard on here that most 1st appt are free of charge).

Just feel so very low this morning and teary but I know they are in the wrong just got to prove it and take them to tribunal.

I actually have the letter from the manager of ALSN support team (LEA) which says -

Further to our recent meeting at school I am happy to confirm that DS is currently awaiting a placement at an ASD/Learning Support Centre within xxxxxx.

A member of my staff will contact you once any further information in regard to the placement is available.

Can they really get out of this? It is disgusting.

They identify a need, tell you what your son should have but hey sorry no, there are no places so you have to stay where you are or look at another mainstream school (he actually said this) with 15 hours support - not even one to one, indefinitely until your son gets a place.

I know early support now will make such a difference to DS.

Sorry know I am preaching to the converted on here!

Think I am constantly moving from being really sad to really angry.

WetAugust Sat 15-Jan-11 14:08:05

Stay angry - they are denying your child a suitable education.

With the need admitted by the LA in writing you have nothing to worry about. They'll probably cave in when you lodge your SENDIST appeal.

Agnesdipesto Sat 15-Jan-11 20:13:27

You can't go to tribunal until they issue a statement which names something else.

You can and should get a lawyer or advocate to write a letter pointing out they are breaking the law.

They can't say a unit (35 hours autism specific) and then offer you 15 hours in mainstream.

Please divert your energies to finding an alternative. Honestly if you write and say I have found an independent asd school that can take child next week for £100k because you have no places and my child's needs are not being met I would bet that they will 'find' a place.

Fiona slomovic will just charge per letter.
But you might be able to get legal aid (but don't hang around the govt are trying to get rid of it)

Look on Law society website - search for a solicitor - specialism education and a list should come up

starfish71 Sun 16-Jan-11 10:05:44

Thank you again Agnes - I am currently contacting a couple of solicitors who specialise in education law but as far as I can search can't find any independent schools in our area.

Will need to go back and search on an old thread of mine, think someone mentioned about asking the LEA for a list of out of county places they are currently funding under the freedom of information act?

Thank you do really appreciate advice, my nerves are shot but have a bit more hope now.

StartingAfresh Sun 16-Jan-11 14:17:14

Yes, if you can get a list of the out of county places that your LA fund it will give ou a clue which ones are viable. It will also strengthen your argument in that they will see that you KNOW it is a viable alternative because they already do it iyswim.

starfish71 Sun 16-Jan-11 19:30:39

Thanks star. Will have a think how to word letter for that. Got a specialist solicitor phoning me back tomorrow after I sent an email so hoping she can help too.

It is a nightmare what they put you through though. Be lost without this support from all of you out there.

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