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I smell a rat - do I need a lawyer?

(24 Posts)
KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 05-Feb-15 12:55:50

DS2 received his final statement last week. A clause has been added that the first AR take place by the end of this term. Today, the school SENCO phoned me to set a date for the AR. I said it didn't make sense, clarify and get back to me.

Have phoned Coram and Tribunal helpline. First, the appeal of the final needs to be before the date of any AR. No problem. Second, I cannot refuse early AR. The LA can go ahead without me and issue an amended statement or cease to maintain the statement. Third, I then have to amend my appeal to that of the amended statement or to appeal ceasing to maintain and then appealing 'consequential amendments' to parts 2, 3 and 4 of the statement which was ceased. This will not mean two separate hearings but most likely would take more than 1 day. angry

Can they really do this? Is it worth paying for a strongly worded letter from a solicitor reminding them than annual review of a statement that has only been finalised for a couple of weeks is not in the best interests of the child?

senvet Thu 05-Feb-15 13:05:26

Have you had an AR before?
If so, when was it?

bjkmummy Thu 05-Feb-15 13:08:24

why do you think they could be moving to remove the statement? would seem madness to do it wouldn't is so soon after issuing it? ive never heard of an AR being held so quickly after the statement was finalised. if there is stuff in it that the LA want to remove then why put it into the finalised statement in the first place?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 05-Feb-15 13:08:27

No this was his first statement. First draft issued June 2014, 2nd draft September 2014, Finalised January 2015. LA demanding AR asap and by end of spring terms at latest.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 05-Feb-15 13:10:47

bjk - he has both moved schools and 'passed' ADOS since SA. New school say they will use their professional discretion and have not been meeting part 3 of draft.

senvet Thu 05-Feb-15 13:24:40

Meeting to sort out how they are gong to comply with Part 3 seems a good idea. AR is irrational. I have seen them 6 months after the statement is finalised and in special circs after 2 months.

How about
'Thank you for your excellent idea of a meeting with all the professionals to sort out putting the provision listed in Part 3 of the new Statement in place.
Obviously if is way to soon to be reviewing a statement which is less than a month old, but I assume this was just a minor mistake in terminology, and there is no question of wasting resources in reviewing a Statement that has only just been finalised.
Would you mind confirming for my records? The final Statement is attached for your records'

You could copy anyone you think would be relevant eg the school and professionals who may have received the standard form for an annual review...

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 05-Feb-15 13:29:01

I know it is unusual and seems madness - that is why I smell a rat.

The school clearly and obviously cannot meet the provision in part 3 because DS2 cannot have access to a LSA for 15 hours per week because there is not currently employed a TA who is even in the same room for 15 hours per week. If the number of hours were reduced and an amended statement issued, the school would not have to change current staffing arrangements.

Reduction is best case scenario. Worst is cease to maintain.

The LA first wanted an AR of the draft (blocked) and now want an early AR of the final. Can I block this and if so, how?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 05-Feb-15 13:36:02

The LA original case worker initially suggested finalising asap as this would trigger the LA learning support person going into the school to provide guidance on how to meet the statement. This has now been changed to AR - which is irrational.

senvet - if I write as suggested, I am told that the meeting can go ahead without me and I can't stop the LA from amending/ceasing to maintain the recently issued final. I know it was not a mistake in terminology as they have added a clause in bold and underlined - they will just confirm. I might buy some time but can't block the AR this way.

Icimoi Thu 05-Feb-15 14:07:47

I really don't see them ceasing to maintain, but if they did the statement would have to stay in force until your appeal against it had been dealt with; and they'd have an awful lot of explaining to do at the tribunal hearing.

senvet Thu 05-Feb-15 14:27:01

Good Grief
How about trying for legal aid in dc's name and going to Maxwell Gillot for information on how to enforce a statement?

It sounds like the LA is being irrational which is one of the things they look for in judicial review.

So yes, STRONG odour of rat and solicitor sounds wise

bjkmummy Thu 05-Feb-15 16:01:35

I agree senvet keep

IsabellaofFrance Thu 05-Feb-15 16:08:12

Statement implementation meetings are common, but to have an annual review seems very fishy.

IsabellaofFrance Thu 05-Feb-15 16:11:59

If you cant block it, you may be able to buy yourself some time. Yes it can go ahead without you, but tell them you will be attending, and that as per code of practice school will need to gather reports from professionals involved and give them to you a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the meeting.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 05-Feb-15 16:45:17

bjk - the LA can't change the appendices and so can't replace educational evidence collected from old school during SA in April/May. That means they can't quote comments in part 2 or decide provision needed in part 3 based on the views of his current school. The school are strongly motivated to reduce support and this also protects the LA from JR (pending tribunal of course as it is ridiculous to argue that DC with social communication difficulties are only 'affected' at certain times on certain days which just happens to match current staffing arrangements).

2boysnamedR Thu 05-Feb-15 17:07:20

Good god!

bjkmummy Thu 05-Feb-15 17:22:22

what a headache - so much for the bit that the child needs should be met - makes a mockery of the whole statementing system - the LA issue it then current school don't like so try and reduce the provision to fit in with their staffing levels rather than the actual needs of the child

senvet Thu 05-Feb-15 17:48:00

fish or rat - it stinks

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Thu 05-Feb-15 17:58:43

The plot thickens - according to DS2 a letter to DH and I was put in his home school book at lunchtime (after I had spoken with Senco). Then just before pick up he was asked where it was. He asked 'why' (bless his directness) and was told the letter had to be rewritten. Presumably I will get it tomorrow - if it's not a snow day

'Every child matters' my arse angry

MeirAyaAlibi Fri 06-Feb-15 19:57:22

You can send a DIY legalese letter by going to the Cerebra downloads You might need to mashup a few of them, but it'd be free, and you can get it done & sent straight away.

For a proper We're-gonna-JR-you letter you can try the local law centre. Coram, MG and the rest are your other options. Although legal aid might cover a JR itself, lots of people seem to have to pay a bit for the preliminary are you entitled /is there a case /scary prelim letter work.

StarlightMcKenzee Sat 07-Feb-15 19:59:36

KeepOn Just read the OP and you're right to be concerned however I would not give your LA credit for working out any of what you have. LA's are mean and nasty sometimes but they're also very stupid.

If they cease to maintain, the provision stays. If they change the contents then unfortunately the changes stay whilst you appeal BUT you're not really worse than you are now and they risk any appeal for ADDITIONAL provision. Also the nonsensical behaviour can win you favour with SENDIST.

StarlightMcKenzee Sat 07-Feb-15 20:02:11

'bjk - he has both moved schools and 'passed' ADOS since SA. New school say they will use their professional discretion and have not been meeting part 3 of draft.'

Sounds to me like it is the school that is driving this. They have been told to take him under the conditions of the statement and as a sop being allowed to review it at the end of term when they can say he doesn't need the provision that has to come from their budget.

StarlightMcKenzee Sat 07-Feb-15 20:08:12

'The school clearly and obviously cannot meet the provision in part 3 because DS2 cannot have access to a LSA for 15 hours per week because there is not currently employed a TA who is even in the same room for 15 hours per week.'

Could it be that they have no intention of hiring a TA and will simply be gathering the evidence to show that he has 'survived' without one?

Is there any chance at all that the AR is really for the purpose of changing over to EHCP?

MeirAyaAlibi Sun 08-Feb-15 12:10:41

'Access to' is so vague it would probably cover having one in another class who could be summoned as need be.

In fact, it's so vague that it probably covers an agency TA sat at home under a zero hours contract specifying 'contactable by phone'

MeirAyaAlibi Sun 08-Feb-15 12:13:05

You could point out to school that an early AR means you'll be asking SENDIST to expedite the appeal about quantifying & specifying.

Really, they'd be safest in sticking with 'access to' for as long as possible.

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