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I'm fuming - is this discrimination do you think?(8 Posts)
Background : Ds has a dx of ASD/PDA. He has acute anxiety which can lead to angry outbursts which are actually considered to be panic attacks and he is to be kept calm afterwards ,taken to a quiet area etc. I wrote to the school a couple of months ago stating that most of the outbursts are caused by provocation by other children and needed to be addressed. Support was recently increased to full time so school would enable him to attend full time. He is also meant to have 1 or 2 key TAs (that are trained to aware of his condition) but has been having 6-8 different ones weekly so as you can imagine this increases his anxiety. The other day a boy had been annoying him all morning and ds was constantly telling him to leave him alone. Eventually his TA told the boy to keep quiet. Fast forward to break time. It was wet break so all the children were crammed in a couple of classrooms (they are aware of dss sensory issues too and dislike of crowds). Ds went in and chatted to a friend when the boy came up and kept talking and upset ds again. Ds kept telling him to shut up and the boy kept saying make me,make me (ds has very literal understanding). Ds swore at him and asked to be left alone. Eventually he shoved or punched the boy (he cant remember much when he sees red). The boy then charged at him and a fight continued. The TA at the time ,who is new to the school and spends just 15 mins per week with him, was stood in the doorway while this was going on and ran off to get help. The fight was eventually broken up by another child. Ds was obviously distraught and had a go at the TA asking why she didnt stop it she burst into tears and ran off. Ds then ran off eventually to be found by staff. The head of year then shouted at him that County had been told all about it and his main TA said that they were considering involving the Police . At lunchtime, about 2 hours later,Dh was called and told that it would be best to go and collect him. Today a letter was sent confirming the half-day exclusion for swearing and violence. The other boy had a detention as they said he fought in self-defence. Now I am furious because a: there was trouble brewing all morning and the TA who was aware of this did not inform the new TA, b:they left a totally inexperience staff member to manage him, c: they know that melt downs occur when he is anxious and we feel that this could have been avoided. We did not know that this was an exclusion until receiving a phone call today after ds went ballistic when told it was an exclusion as he wasnt aware that it was. He was told that they thought it would be best for him. Is there a case of discrimination here do you think? I know its only half a day but this is just the latest problem with them. I am wondering why the LA was contacted before they excluded him. Any advice would be appreciated.
This is a very sticky situation...
My personal opinion on this (and we have actually had a similar situation with DS ) is instead of dropping the "discrimination" card, this would be an opportune time to request an emergency meeting and dissect the incident. Frankly, the past can't be changed, but if you start shouting discrimination, then the likelihood that the school will be in the least bit receptive to your concerns goes down the drain. In this meeting (and the hardest but most important part is this MUST be based on fact alone) you need to answer these questions...
What went wrong?
What evidence was there that things were escalating?
What could DS have done to help himself?
What obstacles were there to him not being able to advocate for himself?
What is being done to ensure the safety of DS and the children around him?
How can this be avoided in the future?
From this meeting, develop a safety plan - then, if the safety plan that everyone has contributed to falls through because of negligence, you have proof to back you up that this issue was well known, the safety plan existed but was ignored, and the school is liable.
Frankly, what you described doesn't even fall into something that could be considered discrimination based on the commonly accepted legal definition - HOWEVER, it does SCREAM negligence - and at least one child was injured as a result...
If the school cannot manage him and need to exclude him this is evidence that they need more support and is actually more useful to you than an unofficial exclusion. Does he have a statement of SEN? You don't mention it so I guess not? Now is the time to be requesting one.
What Bee said.
Use it to get them to up their game and provide the support they are supposed to. Concentrate on their shortcomings with respect to ds, and keep on the 'how can WE (read, you, you bunch of donkeys) stop this from happening again?'
But talk 'we', 'we are all working together to support ds' etc etc.
And use the safeguarding card. They know what ds needs, it's why his hours were upped.
Ask them to draw up a plan for his supervision which takes into account minimal staff changes, and ask them what their plans are for wet play, as this was undoubtedly a worsening scenario with a number of triggers (including the irritating kid, obv) that really should have been picked up on.
Contact the Area IncO for advice, as well as the sn governor. Make it very clear that ds just needs the support he is entitled to - trying to short change that is an avoidable recipe for disaster for both him and his peers.
I would completely avoid the blame game, tbh.
Just talk about what needs to happen in the future to prevent recurrence.
I assume he does, Ellen, he has ft 1-1.
He does have a sm. They have admitted that they are out of their depth and there are meetings already ongoing with the LA. Just fed up with him getting blamed for everything when they could be doing a lot to avoid these happening.
I know that for primary schools some of the regs around exclusion have changed - I imagine it covers secondary as well? DC's with SEN can appeal exclusion and request an 'independent' review of whether or not their needs had been met etc which might be why the LA was contacted. I can't remember where I've read it but I had read that schools can adjust their behaviour policies etc to allow some SEN children not to be in breach quite as quickly as a child without SEN. Perhaps worth questionning once the dust has settled. For my ds, it's my understanding that this is why school are wanting to use a pastoral support plan i.e. to show that they've attempted to meet all of his needs. lol!
I think you should think about what you want to achieve. Do you want your ds to remain at this school? If so then I don't think trying to make a case for discrimination would help. I have a very practical approach to school with both my dc who have asd. Whilst you have every right to expect the school to keep your dc safe, things will go wrong when the routine changes or when our dc have arguments and failings out with other dc. Yes school might have picked up that your ds was getting anxious and that an incident could occur but a school is a busy place with lots of competing demands and people will make mistakes. Personally I would focus on making the supervision better. I would accept that ds being violent was unacceptable but would ask for a meeting to discuss how the situation could have been preempted and prevented. This will give you a way in to discuss why your ds doesn't have a consistent TA who can spot that there may be problem. If you think the school is not able to meet your ds needs then exclusions of this kind will support your case. I would make sure everything is documented and write stating what support your ds needs and them start looking for a school that can provide this support.
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