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help need - tribunal and witnesses for the LA

(13 Posts)
bjkmummy Tue 30-Oct-12 18:04:34

just had an email from someone the LA has got to do the paperwork for tribunal - theyve instructed someone who they say is an education solicitor at another counties legal team but she then goes on to say that she has no experience of tribunal so she wants permission to sit in on the actual tribunal - i think its a bit intimidating if im honest - i know she has to learn but why at my tribunal? also they have instructed a seperate lawyer for the actual hearing - we cannot afford legal representation so are doing it ourselves.

the LA are calling the NHS OT whose report is pretty damning and the ed psyc for the LA whose previous recommendations were ignored by the lea when they amended his statement.

we have a private OT report so were going to call her plus now we will have to call an ed psych and then also the head of the new school.

would it be reasonable to refuse the request for the legal bod to sit in? or am i just over reacting?

also it makes no mention of any LA officers being in the hearing ie they are not listed as witnesses but then i guess as parents we wouldnt be listed as witnesses so am i right to assume someone from the LEA who is not on the form will be there? if thats the case the LA team going to be at least 5 bodies - i am finding this all very very overwhelming if im honest as i wont get the full paperwork tomorrow - i just cannot see how the LA can argue this - he is in a school that cannot meet his needs, LA accepted he needed a new school but have not offered us a single school choice - i suppose all will become clear tomorrow - i guess they are just putting us through this because they can!

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 30-Oct-12 18:31:04

This sounds like typical Mr BS strategies. If I'm right then the witnesses for the LA will be 'revealed' one month before the hearing date. Having someone sit in for 'training' is also a BS strategy.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 30-Oct-12 19:15:48

Send a letter back saying you do not agree to her attending as an observer and if they wish to go ahead they will need to make an application to the Tribunal Judge. Say that if they intend to make any applications between now and the hearing then they must ensure a copy is sent to you so you can put your views to the Judge. Ask if anyone from the LA will be there as well as the Solicitor and if so who that will be.

You don't need to go into why you object to the LA, you only need to do that if they apply to SENDIST for an observer then you can write to the Judge and say you will find it overwhelming / intimidating. - the Judge will have to decide to allow the observer or not. You may want to write to the Judge objecting just in case they apply or have already done so.

Is the SEN officer who wants to come as observer very junior? If not you could even say you have heard from other parents Mr BS always requests an observer and you are not convinced the request for training is genuine given X is an experienced SEN Officer - you could ask Parent Partnership how long has been an Officer.

Be careful as LAs often make a whole host of applications eg for a 4th witness / to change witnesses at the last minute and then 'forget' to send a copy of the application to you. So keep in touch with the Tribunal Clerk regularly and say you are concerned they may fail to send you applications. We got sent several applications that way we otherwise would not have seen and were able to defeat the request for a 4th witness.

Stay strong, this is all tactical and designed to unnerve you. So just be polite and firm and to the point.

bjkmummy Tue 30-Oct-12 19:45:03

its the solicitor who wants to attend as an observer not the sen officer - they have a 2nd solicitor who is from a different company who will actually attend tribunal! they have not said at all which SEN officer will attend so looks like no one from the LA is attending.

i am keen to take 4 witnesses myself - head of teh school i want, ed psych and OT plus a teacher from his current school. the main point here is current school cannot meet his needs, LA agreed he needed a new school, i found a new school, then tehy just went quiet and wont talk to me! son in school part time, he 9 and cannot cope. statement upped to 32.5 hours from 20 even though LA said no evidence his needs had changed but hes only in school part time" He needs OT and SALT in the statement - so far. my school is an asd specific school and costs the grand total of 8.5k!!!

bjkmummy Tue 30-Oct-12 19:46:37

the form i have had tonight is the witness attendance form plus another form so looks like they have made the application already for her to attend. will ring sendist tomorrow and ask how i object.

AgnesDiPesto Tue 30-Oct-12 20:02:00

Ok sorry! Yes ring SENDIST and check if they have received it. If you want a 4th witness you will need to submit a request for changes form and explain why. Generally they take about a week to process applications

Iceflower Tue 30-Oct-12 20:36:57

Hi there,

I also had a request for an observer to attend my hearing; however this was for a graduate trainee SEN officer. I had no objections and my advocate said it would make the LA look aggressive and intimidating when 6 bodies (5 for the LA plus a joint witness) turned up for the LA against me, which would work to my advantage. The observer was not allowed to take part in any of the proceedings and sat apart from the LA team.

nostoppingme Wed 31-Oct-12 23:34:02

Hello,

I'm new on here and do not know your background however have you tried contacting IPSEA or any other charity?

When is your hearing date? There is a possibility you don't have to go to tribunal, you have very good professional reports.

Best wishes

bjkmummy Thu 01-Nov-12 07:40:14

tribunal not until feb. i did contact ipsea earlier this week as they wanted a totally inappropriate person togo in and take my sons views. the LA now accept she was an inappropriate person but then wanted to send someone even more inappropriate - think we now have reached agreement.

a friend made a point that my tribunal is being used to train up a lawyer who will probably be against other parents in the future which is a very good point

the paperwork from the LA came yesterday - i sent them 300 pages of evidence - my reasons for tribunal were nearly 20 pages as i rewrote the statement. their response - 4 pages! plus their NHS OT report which is more damning than ours.

their reasons for tribunal now - is that they are still considering the evidence! they have been doing that since may. that they are urgently considering my school choice, they have been doing that since last month and they got shirty cos ive said they are using delaying tactics.

say they want to work with me - they have agreed to change all shoulds to will, they state that they dont have to put all of the ed psychs recommendations into the statement but then agreed that they would put in his amendments. they clearly do not have a leg to stand on and they have made a comment that someone made the decision a year ago to not get OT and SALT reports as they were not needed. The OT reports are damning and my private SALT report is as well.

after months of being ignored the SEN officer has finally started emailing me and being lovely to me!

Delalakis Sat 03-Nov-12 11:49:32

Have they put in a response that says that they are opposing the appeal and giving reasons? The rules say that they must give their reasons, and you're entitled to know what case they are putting up so you can prepare your own case. If their case is simply that they're still thinking about it, it might be worth applying to the tribunal for an order directing them to give their reasons. It might at least force them to concentrate a bit.

bjkmummy Sat 03-Nov-12 12:56:39

our Ot report says he needs specialist provision. they then got tehri own OT which has taken ages to sort out. we said they were doing this merely to rebut our to which they disagreed. in their response they said they got a report to be neutral and impartial. got the data protection stuff yesterday - emails show that they got a better Ot report commisioned once they thougt i was going to tribunal and it talks about getting a better report to 'counter' ours

anyway they now have both OT reports - theirs came back even worse than ours showing he has even higher needs - the repsonse states they are considering both reports and then will amend the statement in the 1st working document once they have considered the reports. once the working document is agreed then they will think about school placement and will consult schools.

they have visited my school choice and say they are urgently considering it although then say if we agree the statement tehy will consult 'schools'

but what if we cannot agree the statement? what happens then as they will not agree part 4 until then. his current school cannot meet his needs and he is in school part time. so all in all its just saying yes we finally have the OT report - they say they got in on 24/9 but thats wrong its 4/10 plus theyve had ours since mid may so theyve had it a month and are yet to come to a decision. plus we have had private SALT report done which says he needs SALT as well.

I am also concerned that they are calling their OT and ed psych but noone from the LA - is that normal?

bjkmummy Sat 03-Nov-12 17:09:22

just to say thank you everyone for your advice. letter from tribunal today - the solicitor has not been granted permission plus the tribunal have said it would be more appropiate for her to attend a tribunal where both sides are represented. also said they are not happy about the sen case officer taking joes views and maybe an independent person would be better - the LA now have to respond to this. that said i think in the interim this part is sorted as ive tentatively agreed to someone to see him

straweberryjelly Sat 03-Nov-12 21:00:30

Wow...I'm just starting out I have appealed to SENDIST & have a tribunal date next year.

You post has stunned me a little but I guess the behaviour from the LA is probably typical they always drag their feet with everything from my epxerince & only want to play ball when you appeal!

I'm quite shocked their OT report said your child had higher needs too.

I hope you get the provision your son needs. Good luck.

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