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Mother’s fight after autistic son was ‘illegally excluded’

ILLEGAL: Informal exclusions are against the law, according to the Department for Education

THE MOTHER of a pupil with autism who is claiming her son was illegally excluded is planning to take legal action against education authorities.

Jenny Kazley, a paediatric nurse from Leytonstone, in east London, told The Voice she has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Waltham Forest Council on the grounds that her son Yakeem has not been allowed to attend school full-time since October 2012.

EXCLUDED

Kazley also claimed officials at Yakeem’s previous special needs school, the Whitefield Schools and Centre, in Walthamstow, isolated the 14-year-old from his peers by putting him in a classroom by himself and then, without her knowledge, informally excluded him by having him remain at home following an incident in October 2012 when he brought a knife to school. It was agreed he would have gradually been reintroduced to regular classes.

According to the Department of Education, informal exclusions are unlawful. Pupils should be formally excluded either permanently or for a fixed period. After five school days, providers are obliged to arrange alternative full-time education.

A fixed period exclusion is when a child is temporarily removed from school. In such cases, a child can only be removed for up to 45 school days in one school year. If a child is permanently excluded, the local authority has a duty to arrange alternative full-time education.

Kazley said: “Since October 2012, my son had less than three hours of education a day or none. I made a complaint to Alan Adams, the director of children services in October 2013 to ask why nobody was doing anything about this.
“This was when I was told my son was informally excluded. When I told them it was against the law they then said my [son’s exclusion] was due to medical reasons. This is not true.”


FIGHT: Jenny Kazley

Kazley attempted to transfer him to another school but it did not work out. As of March, Yakeem has not received any schooling despite her requests for assistance from Waltham Forest Council to find him a new school place.

Kazley said she has since filed a complaint with the Special Educational Needs and Disability tribunal [Sendist] for disability discrimination – now part of the two-tier tribunal structure of the Health, Education and Social Care (HESC) Chamber.

“I am taking Waltham Forest to tribunal for education negligence. I have a tribunal date for September 4,” the mother added.

When contacted, both Whitefield - rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted - and the council reject Kazley’s claims.

Whitefield’s principal Elaine Colquhoun said: “This student was at no time excluded from school, either temporarily or permanently. The school worked very closely with the parent to meet his needs. At the parent’s request, Waltham Forest Council sourced a new school which was able to meet the specific needs of the student.”

In a statement, Waltham Forest Council said: “We can confirm that this student was not excluded from school and has always had access to a school place. Both his previous school and the council have made repeated attempts to accommodate the parent’s wishes with regard to the education of her son, including offering an alternative school place when she chose to move her son.

“This move took place in January and the parent has now requested a place at another school, which will be considered by the SEN panel on June 12.”

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