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why would lea want a meeting at this stage pre tribunal?

(31 Posts)
billiejeanbob Wed 12-Feb-14 19:39:15

hi i am fairly new here and have been recommended this site by a friend. I am in need of some advice as to how to play this meeting.
background - ds is in yr3 of ms primary. he has a statement that I req and school did not support application. statement is very washy and vague, however it equates to 20hrs of support a week. statement was finalised in December.

I have taken legal advice and my solicitor has prepared our case appealing against parts 2 and 3 of statement. I heard from my solicitor yesterday that lea have until the end of the month to respond to our case via the tribunal. I was called into school today for a meeting with ht and told that the lea have requested I attend a meeting on Friday with ht, senco, lea statementing officer and ep.
I am fairly sure this meeting is to pile on the pressure to drop the appeal. the ep attending meeting has only met my ds once and was totally against me even requesting the sa, she went as far to say ds will never be statemented.

please can anyone advise how I should play this meeting? thanks

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 12-Feb-14 20:04:22

Write to the person holding the meeting and thank them for inviting you.

Tell them that given the short notice you have considerable arrangements to make and therefore could they please tell you the purpose of the meeting, plus supply you with an agenda so that you can make a decision about whether the outcome for your child as a result of this meeting justifies the considerable upheaval it will cause.

You will need this information by the end of Thursday in order to make an informed decision and make the necessary arrangements.

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 12-Feb-14 20:08:03

If you decide to attend the meeting say nothing. Do not agree to anything and take your own minutes/notes (and preferably another person).

Ask that the 'formal' minutes are done as you go along, with everyone agreeing the point and them being photocopied and handed out before you all leave.

If you are asked to agree something that sounds reasonable. Thank them for the suggestion and tell them you will need to think about it and get back to them.

If they ask you why you are appealing, what evidence you have, or what you think you are hoping to achieve, refer them to your appeal documents and add nothing.

If they do the emotional stuff like 'well, if your child gets provision it will mean that 3 really sick kids with no mothers won't be able to get their free school dinners', make a sympathetic face and say nothing.

AgnesDiPesto Wed 12-Feb-14 20:33:23

As you are employing a solicitor I would get solicitor to ring Sen officer ask what the purpose of the meeting is. The LA know you have a solicitor so why are they sending messages inviting you to a meeting via school rather than writing to you direct or via solicitor?This is underhand.
The solicitor should be at the meeting if it's a genuine attempt to negotiate and improve the statement. If it's not this then getting you in a room facing a firing squad who have stitched up what they intend to say beforehand and are testing out how good a witness you will be is not fair.
Tell head you have solicitor acting and have referred the request to them.
If Friday is not convenient suggest alternative dates - it doesn't matter if it's before or after the deadline from your perspective. That's their fault for leaving it so late. Do you think if you asked all these people to meet you with 2 days notice they would drop everything? Of course not.

billiejeanbob Wed 12-Feb-14 20:39:04

thankyou for replying. Unfortunately I have already agreed to attend the meeting.
I am arranging to have indi salt and ot assessments done, shall I tell them this? ds has already been discharged by nhs salt despite his statement saying his communication skills should be reviewed termly by slt.

wetaugust Wed 12-Feb-14 20:44:13

I am arranging to have indi salt and ot assessments done, shall I tell them this?


You can change your mind about going. I wouldn't go if I were you. You could really screw up your case at Tribunal if you're not careful.

If his Statement says termly review by SALT that's what he should receive. If he doesn't receive it complain in writing to the LA as they are responsible for delivering the support detailed in a Statement.

billiejeanbob Wed 12-Feb-14 20:49:17

thankyou for your response wet. sorry If I sound dim but how could I screw up my case for tribunal by attending the meeting? im new to all of this and really not well prepared sad

wetaugust Wed 12-Feb-14 20:53:47

They will be sitting there - all 3 of them just waiting for you to divulge information that will be useful to them at Tribunal. They could even make up lies - I wouldn't put that past them.

When you hire a solicitor they become your legal representative, so if these 3 want to talk to you they should do so with your representative present, at the very least.

I cannot imagine there will be any radical change in their position - if there was they wouldn't need to involve the current school Head and the Case Officer could just as easily speak to you on the phone - like ours did.

billiejeanbob Wed 12-Feb-14 20:56:37

ok thanks. if I dont attend wont that look bad for me at tribunal?

wetaugust Wed 12-Feb-14 21:03:54

No. It's too short notice. As the others have said upthread, they should arrange a mutually convenient time when you can have your solicitor present. They should offer you 3 possible meeting dates.

They should also tell you what the purpose of the meeting is - otherwise it's just a waste of time.

All that's happening at the moment is that they've collectively ambushed you into a meeting about (what?) without the opporunity to have your legal rep present. If you must go at least take someone from Parent Partnership rather than go alone (but they can sometimes be LEA pawns so you need to be careful)

billiejeanbob Wed 12-Feb-14 21:08:50

the ht said the meeting was to discuss my concerns regarding the statement, sorry I should probably have added that at the beginning.

billiejeanbob Wed 12-Feb-14 21:10:31

I have dp who is coming with me. last time I attended a meeting alone with the ep she was absolutely awful towards me so im not making that mistake again.

wetaugust Wed 12-Feb-14 21:17:07

Billie. It's actually nothing to do with the Head of his current school any more.

You may not know this but when you made that application for a Statement you started a legally binding process, essentially between you, as the advocate for your son, and the LA, that has responsibility for identifying, assessing and support his SENs. So you can see that this is nothing to do with school.

The person who is legally responsible for dealing with your Statement request is the LA Case Officer (not the Head or the EP or any Panel that they may tell you has made a decision). So the Case Officer knows exactly wat they can offer you and knows exactly whether school can deliver that support. It doesn't need a meeting with the Head and EP to tell you that.

If the Case Officer thinks that his current school can meet his needs the Case Officer writes to the Head and asks them if they can provide the level of support the Statement says he needs. So if you are asking for additional support all the Case Officer has to do is agree/diasagree with you and they've already said that they disagree with you because it's going to Tribunal.

If your solicitor is appealing Parts 2 and 3 that can often lead to a different school than his current school being named in Part 4 of the Statement. Do you think his current school could actually meet his needs?

I would send an email back thankin them for their offer of a meeting albeit at very short notice and asking them to contact your legal representative if they have any fresh proposals to make.

billiejeanbob Wed 12-Feb-14 21:24:52

thankyou wet. yes I feel that current school can meet needs. we are basically asking for statement to be specified in terms of ta 1:1 hours and slt and ot involvement. we are asking for 30 hours of 1:1. current statement funds 20 hours but this is not specified within the statement.
I can see now how they are going to try to use ht, senco and ep to pressure me into dropping appeal as otherwise they would not need to be there.
ok think I will contact soliciter tomorrow and ask him to request that all correspondence goes through him. thankyou

wetaugust Wed 12-Feb-14 21:44:30

Good, I'm glas you can see that Head, SENCO and EP are not involved in the decison-making. The decision to meet your demands or not is soleky the decision of the LA CAse Officer.

Your demands are actually very reasonable. Statements must be quantified - that's the law.

I'd just ask them outright whether they have reconsidered and are now in a position to meet DS's needs via 30 hours of 1:1. If not, you'll see them at Tribunal.

Best wishes

wetaugust Wed 12-Feb-14 21:46:31

^ arghh - my spelling! glas=glad soleky =solely

bialystockandbloom Wed 12-Feb-14 22:00:10

the ht said the meeting was to discuss my concerns regarding the statement

But they already know what your concerns are re the statement as you have submitted your appeal documents. This is, as everyone else has said, a pure fishing exercise to sound you out before you submit your appeal papers to find out what you're going to say so they can prepare their evidence against it directly, and/or bully you into dropping your appeal.

If they wanted to negotiate and mediate, they could have done so during the statementing process.

The Head is on-side with the LEA as he knows as well as the LEA do that wishy-washy statements without proper lawful specification and quantification are cheaper for the school to implement.

Email tomorrow to say that you will not be attending, that your solicitor is unable to attend at such short notice, and use the line that wetaugust suggested: "thankin them for their offer of a meeting albeit at very short notice and asking them to contact your legal representative if they have any fresh proposals to make."

And yes, whether you do have a meeting at some point or not, do not tell them you've got indie EP and SALT.

Good luck. It's great you have found this site, there are so many strong and experienced posters here who can help you through all this smile

bochead Wed 12-Feb-14 22:18:20

they want advance warning of what legal arguments you will be using at tribunal so they can wop your ass on the day!

So attend to demonstrate your naive desperate eagerness to show your "willingness to engage with the professionals" and say a whole heap of nuttin'. Keep your mouth shut and say nothing.

bochead Wed 12-Feb-14 22:18:36

take notes tho' wink

billiejeanbob Wed 12-Feb-14 22:24:57

bochead if I attend and they ask me direct questions, how do I reply?

wetaugust Wed 12-Feb-14 22:28:34

^bochead if I attend and they ask me direct questions, how do I reply?

That's the problem.

If you stay silent they can accuse you of being obstructive. If you say anything they will seize on it and misinterpret it to suit themselves.

It's like a game of poker - they just want to see how strong your hand is.

Don't play their game.

billiejeanbob Wed 12-Feb-14 22:32:30

thanks wet. will the tribunal think im being obstructive if I decline the meeting and request that any new proposals be made via my solicitor?
ive got a feeling that they are going to dig their heels in with this one and offer more dates for meetings etc.

wetaugust Wed 12-Feb-14 22:57:28

will the tribunal think im being obstructive if I decline the meeting and request that any new proposals be made via my solicitor?

Not at all. It's a reasonable request to ask that any new proposals are put in writing to you and your legal representative. As I said earlier, Statementing is a legal process, so the lay person has a reasonable right to seek professional help.

They should have offered you 3 possible meeting dates.

Only go to a meeting with your solicitor present. That's what I insisted on. There's no point in hiring a lawyer and then doing it yourself. You need to hold out for what you want. Jumping at the chance of a meeting with them, alone and at short notice, just makes them think you are desperate for a solution, any solution, and therefore weakens your chance at Tribunal.

I hate to say it - but it's a game. To them anyway. sad

StarlightMcKingsThree Wed 12-Feb-14 23:27:59

If you go to the meeting they have a chance to say that you agreed to something you didn't. They might try and test your emotions to work out what will intimidate you at a hearing.

The request was unreasonable. No tribunal would think otherwise. Tell them to go ahead with their meeting without you and put any decisions to obey the law in writing to you.

wetaugust Wed 12-Feb-14 23:33:52

... and Star is the Tribunal Queen, in front of whom I just prostrate myself and chant "I am not worthy". grin

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