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SEN tribunal looming

(32 Posts)
KS0589 Thu 23-Nov-17 13:23:36

Hi All

First time post but I have been using and benefiting on the advice from these forums for years.

Anyway we have a EHCP tribunal coming up in a few weeks as we are appealing to have ABA included on it.

Some back ground, DD is 4 and half (non verbal) and in a mainstream school, we have been privately funding ABA at home for a year now and have seen some great progress so are now pushing to get this in school. We have a legal advocate representing us and have had independent EP assessments and an ABA assessment and progress report from our BCBA consultant.

I think we are well prepared and the EP report strongly recommends ABA after assessing daughter in school and at home in an ABA session, infact the report is quite damning of what they saw in school, interms of learning

so im on here for some last minute advice / tips

Some keypoints so far:

- LA haven't submitted any evidence before deadline
- LA did not send appeal response to us as parents or to our rep, we had to chase it up with court and LA sent a word version of it a week later with apologies
- LA have not sent us the bundle yet, it is past deadline so rep is contacting tribunal to see if they have received it and we have just been missed (again)
- LA EP has not assessed or even met our daughter in person and her last report for the plan was done a while back based on discussions with parents and pre-school (at that time). No further assessment or report has been done for this tribunal (so far) although the LA EP is called as a witness by them

Just feels so frustrating that we have gone to so much effort and cost yet seems LA are dragging their heels and seem like they are doing nothing.

KS0589 Thu 23-Nov-17 13:31:36

Sorry forgot to include daughter has had an asd diagnosis for a year and a half

Ellie56 Thu 23-Nov-17 14:31:06

It sounds as though you have done everything possible. It sounds as though the LA has done as little as possible.

Our LA did as little as possible too. They did the bare minimum to keep the process going. I'm convinced it was another of their delaying tactics. In response to the appeal they just sent a letter with 2 lines saying why they opposed the appeal and then quoted a whole load of guff from the Code of Practice that was totally irrelevant.

The LA got barred from attending the hearing because they did not submit the bundle. They didn't send any evidence either.

Are you saying an LA EP who has not even met your daughter is being called as a witness?? That is unbelievable. Or maybe not - maybe your LA is the same one as ours!

And they have the nerve to talk about efficient use of resources! angry

KS0589 Thu 23-Nov-17 14:53:49

Sounds very similar to our LA’s response, and I do get the feeling it is delaying tactics

Yes the EP has been called as a witness, although how much can she talk about our daughter if she has never seen her

Awaiting a response from tribunal to see if the LA have submitted the bundle to them before the deadline and just missed us out.

I assume if they haven’t they’ll get barred too.

I don’t want to say which LA it is in case they are ‘watching’ ( this is how paranoid they have made me lol) but wouldn’t be surprised if they are the same as yours.. similar tactics anyway

Chasingmytail17 Thu 23-Nov-17 22:36:22

Oh golly, posted thoughts and hopes winging your way KS0 I fear I may be in your exact position for exact same reasons sometime soon. With any luck their atrocious conduct will do them no favours at all when it comes to hearing.

amunt Fri 24-Nov-17 21:54:32

They are the lowest of the low.
It drives me mad that the judges accept late evidence so routinely. In our ABA Tribunal, we had similar issues.

Just keep an eye out that they don't suddenly turn up at school, contrive a report and submit it on the day before you've been able to read it. May be worth emailing school to say you do not want anyone assessing your daughter without your permission. Good luck!

Ellie56 Fri 24-Nov-17 23:02:17

Have you got the bundle yet OP?

KS0589 Fri 24-Nov-17 23:46:49

@ellie56 Yes the bundle was sent to tribunal but they ‘forgot’ to include us in the email

The bundle is missing some evidence too angry

I did ask the school to let me know if any professionals want to come and asses her, so hopefully we’ll have warning should this happen.

Ellie56 Sat 25-Nov-17 01:27:51

Quelle surprise - and how convenient OP. I've never understood why the LA has to do the bundle. They aren't exactly impartial are they? hmm

KS0589 Sat 25-Nov-17 08:47:04

Reading around these forums it seems All this is common for LA’s, makes you think why do they continue to get away with it.

Oh well all the stress will all be worth it if it means my daughter getting the support she needs after it

Checklist Sat 25-Nov-17 12:02:52

The tribunal used to send out the bundle, but they changed it to the LA in the last tribunal reforms - to save the tribunals' costs! Everybody said at the time, parents could hardly rely on a LA!

KS0589 Sun 26-Nov-17 09:38:37

Can anyone give any advice about how to prepare for the actual day? We have a legal rep but I’m assuming I will need to talk at some point, giving a statement and answering questions.

I am not a confident speaker so any advice or tips on how to prepare will be much appreciated

Ellie56 Sun 26-Nov-17 10:50:52

If you are asked a question take a moment to think beforehand.

If there is anything you absolutely want the Tribunal to hear, write it down beforehand and have it in front of you.

Checklist Sun 26-Nov-17 11:00:28

I have been to tribunal four times, although we had a barrister. From what I can remember, I suggest:

1. take some post it notes, so that you can pass notes to your rep or witnesses with comments or questions, without interrupting the hearing

2. do not interrupt the LA or their witnesses, when they are speaking, no matter how annoying or untrue what they are saying is. Keep calm, reasonable and dignified at all times, even if you don't feel like that. Some LAs like to wind parents up emotionally, so that they are less effective in arguing - because they don't really have a case! They may complain that they did not get a fair hearing, and appeal the judgement. Wait until they have finished, then you or rep may get an opportunity to speak. In any event, the barrister or rep usually has a summing up speech at the end, when loose ends can be addressed

3. our barrister used to tell us "Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves!" and usually they do! Every hearing we had, the LA rep or witnesses always managed to wind the Tribunal up, and shoot themselves in the foot! At our first one, the LA rep lost the hearing for herself in the first five minutes; and at the second, the barrister told us she knew the chair, and she was so angry, she could practically see the sparks emitting from her head! At the 4th, a witness, a teacher disagreed with the professional opinion of a consultant psychiatrist on his diagnosis....the chair got really annoyed!

4. take a photo of the child, to show the tribunal that the hearing is about a person, and not a pile of problems walking about (we were told to do that for the first tribunal, but I forgot for the 4th, so I am not sure if it still applies - ask your rep)

5. index the bundle yourself, and use post it notes to label particularly important reports, so that you can turn to any report, letter, whatever you want immediately, without having to flick through hundreds of pages

6. usually, it is not necessary to quote case law to the Tribunal, because the chair is a lawyer and should know it already. At our last hearing, the barrister only mentioned the Bromley case in passing as still "a potent case" in her summing up.

7. while you may not feel a confident speaker (and I don't), the fact is that you know your child and all the papers on them, better than anybody else in that room - and certainly better than the LA, who probably left handling the case to the last minute at every stage! However, the Tribunal don't see you as a professional, so rely on the professional reports on how to meet the SEN.

KS0589 Sun 26-Nov-17 11:25:13

Thank you so much, that is all great advice and I will take it on board

Ceto Sun 26-Nov-17 12:41:24

Make yourself a bullet point list of things you want to say about why you want this, your experience of ABA so far and how it has helped your child, etc. It's good for peace of mind so that know you won't forget anything.

KS0589 Thu 30-Nov-17 13:11:31

Thanks for all the advice folks, will take it all onboard

AngelicaM Sat 02-Dec-17 19:35:18

Hi KS8509, I've just across this thread, we are in the exact same position as you , our DS non verbal 5 has started in mainstream and we are at Tribunal in a couple of weeks for ABA which we've funded for two and half years with great solid results and good evidence. LA have sent bundle, they've submitted very little evidence though, which surprised me. They spent so long seemingly thinking I wasn't really understanding what I was doing and that I was being a bit silly, the look on the LA bod's face when it finally dawned on her I fully understood what I was doing and was prepared to go all the way almost cheered me up. How is your school? Are they on board? Our Ed Psych said much the same as your in his report. Do you have an OT witness?

Thanks everyone else for such great practical tips, these things like Post It's appeal to me as a way to stay in control! And I am the worst interrupter! 🙈

KS0589 Sat 16-Dec-17 05:41:31

@angelicam sorry just saw your message, our school were on board (I thought) although the LA called one of the schools teachers as a witness (he’s not actually dd teacher) and he seemed to be so opposed to ABA without being able to give any actual reason , it was literally ‘I just don’t like it’. He was actually trying to imply he knew more than our ed phsyc on various autism teaching methods. At one point he started to explain intensive interaction to the panel and to the ed phsyc as he thought that was the best approach. I was a little embarrassed for him at that point

Thanks to all for the advice it very much helped although me and husband were not asked many questions thankfully, our rep handled most of it.

I think the tribunal will go in our favour , But obv we won’t know until we get the result and anything can happen I guess.

This might sound petty but I must say it felt good to hear the Tribunal rip the LA into pieces , I almost felt sorry for the man from the council but then remembered how much hell he has put us through and how he belittled and dismissed everything we were saying at a mediation meeting previously and the empathy soon went away.

amunt Mon 18-Dec-17 10:37:38

Just be on the lookout in the weeks before Tribunal. Our LA also submitted virtually no evidence, but suddenly the week before they did a visit to school and had a meeting with the Head to agree a strategy. They submitted loads of late evidence 10 minutes before the hearing.
They still lost. blush grin

KS0589 Sun 28-Jan-18 12:54:20

Just an update , still waiting to hear back , we were told by the panel we should hear back first week of jan, but been chasing tribunal and been told no decision come through yet.

Is it normal for there to be such a delay? Our court date was 18th december

amunt Sun 28-Jan-18 16:20:03

That doesn't sound right. I thought 2 weeks was the usual. Have you rang the SENDIST number? They are pretty helpful. It's really unfair to keep you hanging. And what could take that long?

BashStreetKid Sun 28-Jan-18 21:46:23

It's not unknown, but usually only in circumstances like the judge being ill. Have the tribunal given you any explanation?

Out of curiosity, who was your judge? There are one or two who seem to have a bit of a track record for being slow.

KS0589 Sun 28-Jan-18 22:06:20

Can’t remember the name of the judge , he did say there would be a delay due to Christmas holidays and was very apologetic about that but it’s been nearly 6 weeks now. Will ask my solicitor to chase again I think

Ellie56 Mon 29-Jan-18 00:50:33

Even allowing for Christmas and New Year, that does seem an excessively long time. hmm

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