ACAT sets aside suspension of Year 2 student with disabilities

Ian Bushnell 7 January 2021 86
Young boy

The boy had been violent towards other students and the principal said her priority was safety. Photo: File.

A decision to suspend a Year 2 child with disabilities after a string of violent incidents has been set aside after it was found that the public school principal had other options at her disposal and had not met the requirements of the Education Act and the Education Directorate’s suspension policy.

The boy’s parents had sought a review of the one-day suspension handed out on 3 July 2019, but the Director-General had upheld it, so they then went to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

ACAT heard the case in September last year, handing down its decision on Christmas Eve.

The boy – who has epilepsy, poor motor skills and difficulty controlling his emotions – has not returned to the school in question, but the case highlights the challenges for educators and parents alike.

He was not the only child with disabilities at the school, which had developed an Individual Learning Plan and allocated a shared Learning Support Assistant.

ACAT was told that the boy had had an unsettled first half of 2019 with a change of teachers, time spent out of class and a lack of friends, as well as possible bullying.

The family’s relationship with the school was also fraying, and trust between them had declined.

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On the day in question, the trigger had been an episode in the afternoon where the boy was drinking water dripping from a gutter and been told by a girl it was bad for him.

For unknown reasons, this enraged him and he has rushed at the girl and pushed her up against a wall. The girl told a teacher that the boy tried to strangle her although it was unclear whether this was the case.

He also swiped his hand against the face of a second girl before running off to an upstairs area where he kicked at least one other student, and began taping classroom doors shut muttering about ”stupid girls” and ”I’ll kill them”.

He then ran downstairs knocking over another child as he went and eventually made his way to the deputy principal’s office where his father, who had arrived to pick him up, found him calmer but still in a heightened state and unresponsive.

By then the principal had decided – based on the boy’s violence to other students, his non-compliance and his failure to de-escalate – to suspend the boy for a day to allow for a ‘Protective Action Plan’ to be developed.

Apparently, there had also been an incident the day before, but then he had been able to calm down.

The boy’s father had argued that the suspension was unwarranted, the evidence was insufficient and the response punitive.

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ACAT focused on the requirements for suspension under the Education Act and directorate policy and found the principal fell short, also finding that the boy’s circumstances had not fully been taken into account.

It found the principal had failed to consult the boy’s father before deciding on suspension, and the internal review had not presented the school’s version of events to the father as required under the policy.

The principal had also not documented events adequately for the parents and had not considered alternatives to suspension.

From the point of view of the ACT, ACAT did not believe that the boy was “persistently and wilfully non-compliant” or was a threat to the good order of the school.

It questioned the principal’s rush to suspension, although she had argued that safety was her priority and had stressed the immediacy and urgency of the situation.

”Surely a decision-maker would hesitate to impose a suspension … if it appears probable that the behaviour prompting the suspension is in part a manifestation of one of the child’s underlying disabilities,” ACAT said.

Previous evidence from the deputy principal had acknowledged that the boy may have been unable, rather than unwilling, to control his emotions on the afternoon of 3 July.

It said courses of action other than suspension were available, including a more therapeutic approach to the boy rather than investigatory.

”Other options were also available: the in-school alternate program described in the guidelines accompanying the policy, in which the child attends school but does not join in with other students; or an informal request to the applicant to keep his son at home for a day, the effect of which would have been the same as suspension but without the formalities and the punitive appearance of those formalities,” ACAT said.

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It said the Act’s overarching principle was the right of every child to a high-quality education.

”With that in mind, and taking all the circumstances of this matter into account, we have concluded that the correct or preferable decision was not to exercise the discretion to suspend the applicant’s child, but rather to pursue one of the alternatives identified above. Accordingly, we set aside the decision under review and substitute our decision that no action is to be taken under section 36 of the Act,” ACAT found.

The names of individuals involved and the school have been withheld to protect the identity of the child.

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86 Responses to ACAT sets aside suspension of Year 2 student with disabilities
Meh My Meh My 11:22 am 11 Jan 21

After reading the ACAT transcript, these words say it all ".....the relevant sequence appears to start at the end of the lunch break, shortly before 2pm..." Any parent or carer will tell you lunch and other unstructured school breaks are often pure hell for students with additional needs. While there are a few teachers on playground duty during these breaks, I understand students with additional needs are prime targets for bullying by mainstream students - and much more adult support and supervision is needed for our vulnerable students during break times at school.

Tania Ezra Tania Ezra 10:31 pm 09 Jan 21

I hope the two girls who were assaulted are ok. They have the right to going to school safely and be educated without harm.

    Rose Wild Rose Wild 11:50 am 10 Jan 21

    And if you read the case, it seems the little boy may have been subjected to bullying himself, before he retaliated. Kids who are different (disabled, racial, appearance etc) are often subjected to repeated nasty incidents from so-called "normal" kids, and nothing is done to protect them. Education Dept tends to put all the reports into the' too hard' basket and never address them

Gail Mirfin Gail Mirfin 5:45 pm 09 Jan 21

Interesting article RiotACT. Can you please follow it up with an article on how Canberra kids are left without critical early support due to a depleted child development service and lack of medical specialists (occupational therapists, speech therapists, pediatricians). And how disabled students are often left traumatised by schools that are grossly ill-equipped to meet their needs (buildings are not sensory friendly, staff have very minimal training in disabilities, assistants often have no training, staff are under-resources to implement best practice accommodations many times that are specifically mentioned in a child’s Individual Learning Plan.

Cheers 👍

Bernard Bernard 12:43 pm 08 Jan 21

Discrimination is a fascinating beast – tolerated when it meets the “woke” views and attitudes a number of younger parents and (apparently) keyboard warriors hold and roundly condemned by the same individuals when it doesn’t.

Soooo… having actually read the decision from ACAT, my question would be why has the child (parent/s) not been charged?

Regardless of disability, committing an assault is a criminal offence and in and of itself appears to have justified the suspension, the violence also appears to have occurred more than once. “Threats to kill” pop up in the criminal code as being a “no no”.

How does ACAT justify this decision, given the schools have an obligation to maintain a safe environment for ALL the students not just those with special needs?

It seems the message being put out is that if you are a disabled child you can feel free to assault and threaten little girls and excuses will be made for you with nil consequence.

I feel this approach may be more detrimental for the child than the long term approach of making them responsible for their own actions.

As matters stand his mum and dad are basically saying “it’s not your fault you were suspended son. See the tribunal supported us!” as opposed to “Son, if you continue assaulting people you will end up in gaol with a very large roommate called Bubba…”

I feel so very sorry for the children, and parents of these children, who are essentially being told that one child’s right to an education supersedes the risk to their safety and right to an education.

    Rose Wild Rose Wild 10:44 am 11 Jan 21

    Bernard – so u would approve of police action against an intellectually challenged 7 year old? Get a grip!!!

    Bernard Bernard 3:00 pm 12 Jan 21

    Not so much the child given they couldn’t be charged in and of themselves, more the parents to help… encourage them.

    What would you suggest Rose? Let’s pretend your daughter was assaulted at school in the same circumstances. Please do tell me how you would be brimming with understanding and explaining to your own child it was ok for the disabled child to have hit them? That it’s ok for this same child to make yours feel scared and unsafe in their school?

    In ten and a half years, if the boy still hasn’t learned (which seems likely if your view and the parents attitude are the prevailing ones) the police WILL lock him up and what new excuses would you offer up then?

    The implication that there should be no consequences for actions that see adults (those disabled and those that are not) jailed just doesn’t resonate with me for some reason.

Rose Wild Rose Wild 12:27 pm 08 Jan 21

The disabled one is a child too!

    Peng Wynne Peng Wynne 8:48 pm 08 Jan 21

    And the staff and students around them deserve to be safe.

    Anissa Jones Anissa Jones 11:23 pm 08 Jan 21

    Yes they are. However, staff (and students) have a right to be safe in their workplace/school, which is Federal law not ACT law like ACAT.

    Gail Mirfin Gail Mirfin 5:50 pm 09 Jan 21

    Anissa staff and other students absolutely have a right to be safe however the focus is too much reactive (“oh an incident has happened, let’s ensure our staff are safe”) rather than proactive (“let’s try to reduce behavioral incidents by ensuring staff are properly trained and resourced to meet the needs of all children.”)

    Focusing only on WHS and not on the basics of an effective education system is short sighted and leads to incidents ... and exclusion. No one wins.

Rose Wild Rose Wild 11:23 am 08 Jan 21

A child with a disability usually does not start a confrontation. But he/she will react in whatever way they can when subjected to continuous bullying. So lets look at why this kid reacted as he did. What were the other kids doing to him?

    Anissa Jones Anissa Jones 11:38 am 08 Jan 21

    That is not always the case. Please don’t point fingers at the victims. These are children.

    Adrienne Yeo Adrienne Yeo 7:07 pm 08 Jan 21

    It depends on the nature of the disability we are talking about. Children with intellectual disability and/or autism can react violently with little, if any provocation. This was not the case with this child, and there was a statement in the ACAT ruling that suggested the disabled child might have been "bullied" in the past. I'd hazard a guess that the bullying of this disabled child was more verbal and social exclusion, which schools don't work to act as hard on, than if the bullying was physical. Is it right to respond punitively to a child reacting physically to social bullying ? I don't think so, but policing social behaviour is just so fraught and schools would rather not have to deal with it.

    Peng Wynne Peng Wynne 8:47 pm 08 Jan 21

    Rose Wild not every "confrontation" is intentional. Some kids are triggered by smells, sight or patterns that are only clear to themselves. To sit there and automatically put the blame on the victims is a large part of why these kids struggle in classes.

    Rose Wild Rose Wild 9:52 am 09 Jan 21

    At no time did I blame the "victim"! I merely suggested that we should look at the circumstances in which the confrontation occured. As for the statement "to put the blame on the victims is a large part of why these kids struggle in class" does not make any sense at all. What are you trying to say?

    Anissa Jones Anissa Jones 10:54 am 09 Jan 21

    Rose Wild unless you witnessed it yourself, it’s mere speculation. You said “what were the other kids doing to him?” - and as it has already been said to you, it’s not always another child. It can be a smell or noise etc.

    Peng Wynne Peng Wynne 11:19 am 09 Jan 21

    Rose Wild well if you think about it: by overlooking possible causes outside bullying you are potentially ignoring what triggers these kids have which mean they go unidentified and these later become bigger issues later for the child in question.

    You jumped straight to bullying, you jumped straight to "clearly it was someone else's fault and not the child's at all". Not only does this disregard the safety of other members in the class, it also means that you are limiting the neuro-atypical child's chance for development and help. You're teaching them to be solely reliant on their condition as an excuse.

    Gail Mirfin Gail Mirfin 6:40 pm 09 Jan 21

    There is always a trigger for a child lashing out, however it isn’t always bullying. The trigger may be the child being forced to do an activity that distresses them (eg assembly in a loud hall), not receiving enough quiet time, learning instruction not being tailored to the needs of the child (eg scaffolding instruction, minimising verbal instruction).

    Rose Wild Rose Wild 11:32 am 10 Jan 21

    Can you please show me where I said: "clearly it was someone else's fault and not the child's at all"?

Peng Wynne Peng Wynne 9:11 am 08 Jan 21

"He also swiped his hand against the face of a second girl" so he slapped her? But that's ok? Because he has disabilities?

    Frances Ottewill Frances Ottewill 11:20 pm 10 Jan 21

    Peng Wynne No but it's completely different for these children

    Peng Wynne Peng Wynne 11:25 pm 10 Jan 21

    Frances Ottewill in terms of how you deal with the behaviour perhaps. But it doesn't mean others have to excuse being slapped because of it. It's a balance between protecting the rights of the kids on both sides of this.

    Peng Wynne Peng Wynne 11:26 pm 10 Jan 21

    And the staff.

    Frances Ottewill Frances Ottewill 11:33 pm 10 Jan 21

    Peng Wynne it's called a behavioral plan my son had to go on one last year as he is severely Autistic and he also does a lot of the same behaviours as SIBS which is short for Self injuries Behaviours he would bite himself until he screamed before he even noticed. He goes to a special needs school and is not the only child with these behaviors! He came home first week with scratche around his neck and likely hood that this child actually has no idea what they are doing and it's harder to teach these children not to do these behaviors when they can't even grasp what they are doing to themselves!

    Frances Ottewill Frances Ottewill 11:34 pm 10 Jan 21

    Also my son goes to a special needs school that gets this!

Anissa Jones Anissa Jones 8:00 am 08 Jan 21

What funds would the principal have used to fund the “alternate” program?

It means shuffling staff around and disrupting the classes of students all ready impacted by the violence.

What concerns me, as others have already stated, is the well-being of the staff and students who were subjected to this behaviour. This is far from an isolated incident.

How can we help the victims when the focus is on the violent child?

    Anissa Jones Anissa Jones 8:23 am 08 Jan 21

    You do realise staffing comes down to $$ right?

    That includes taking time to educate non-special needs trained staff away from the classroom.

    You pay for a relief teacher, the teacher on PD and the course.

    It’s not as simple as you think. Schools are not made of money and putting one child above the other 24 is dangerous.

    I’m sorry your child has had a bad experience in their schooling, but not all children are innocent of violent acts.

    Gail Mirfin Gail Mirfin 6:31 pm 09 Jan 21

    Not good enough. If ‘chaplains’ can be funded for schools, if we can afford tax cuts for big business, if we can afford negative gearing and franking credits...then we should be able to adequately fund public schools to meet the needs of ALL kids (not just those that aren’t disabled).

    Frances Ottewill Frances Ottewill 11:18 pm 10 Jan 21

    Anissa Jones These children are different my son is severely Autistic and last year had to go on behavioral plan to help him control these behaviors and did quite well he is in a special needs school that realises these are behaviour issues are related to his Autism. It does nothing to just move the child on or kick them out of every school they go to! My son does some of these things as SIBS, "Self injuries Behaviours" Biting and Pinching himself so if it takes him to scream his head off to realise he is doing it to himself, what do you think it is going to take for him to realise he is hurting another child? Also being a special needs school my son has had other children with Autism do similar things back to him like one child scratching the crap out of him! If the school is not willing to help then a better option might be a special needs school but why and how long do we need to wait for actual public schools and the rest of humanity for that Matter to fricken catch up?

    Anissa Jones Anissa Jones 9:16 am 11 Jan 21

    Frances Ottewill that is a question to ask the education system. However if your child is in a special needs school then the staff are speciality trained to work with him. Mainstream schools don’t have the training and sometimes the money.

    As a parent I would choose the place that supports my child regardless of their needs. And if it was a special school, then so be it. However we can’t blame individual teachers or schools. It’s below their pay grade to make those decisions over funding.

Nick James Nick James 6:05 am 08 Jan 21

Parents sending a great message...

    Gail Mirfin Gail Mirfin 6:21 pm 09 Jan 21

    yes that they won’t tolerate a likely underfunded and under-trained school failing to meet the needs of their disabled child (as per disability discrimination legislation) and then blaming the child when things go pear shaped. 👍

Amanda Taylor Amanda Taylor 6:00 am 08 Jan 21

Ya because children with disabilities should have no education at all 😡😡😡

Instead how about an education system that actually caters adequately and correctly for students with disabilities.

Oh hang on..doesn't that include cages? But wait...we need a fast transit light rail first 🤔

Read the Royal Commission into the treatment of people with a disability and then you will see the appalling treatment of our disabled.

Tegan Martin Tegan Martin 11:46 pm 07 Jan 21

If I was the mother of the little girl, I'd be fuming and demanding he be kept away from my child. But if I was the parent of the little boy, I'd be taking it up with the school.

However over all, EVERY child has a right to feel safe at school and sorry to say but if a child with disabilities is lashing out in that manner and endangering other students, they shouldn't be there.

    Amanda Taylor Amanda Taylor 6:02 am 08 Jan 21

    Tegan Martin yes because suspension should be top priority instead of recognising the triggers prior and thereby preventing this from occurring

    Adrienne Yeo Adrienne Yeo 10:37 am 08 Jan 21

    Amanda, I have been down this road before. It is really up to the parents to come up with a behaviour management plan to discuss with the school. This plan would need to be based on psychological evaluation or input by health professionals. The school cannot enact any kind of behaviour management without some kind of mandate to do so, or it could be liable for unintended consequences.

    Tegan Martin Tegan Martin 10:44 am 08 Jan 21

    Adrienne Yeo exactly!

    My niece is being bullied by a girl who should in theory, be in a learning assisted program and accompanied at school. She is physically violent, but also verbally. Not only that, but she is disruptive to all other students as she does no learning. She even bullies other children in the classroom.

    The mother refuses to acknowledge her child's behaviour and as a result, nothing gets done. Now to start 2021 they have only managed to say the child and my niece are not allowed in the same class. But instead of separating the problem child, they have separated my niece from absolutely every one of her friends, who they have placed in the other class.

    What's more, the Apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as I went to highschool with the girls mother and she is as nasty and pigheaded as she was back then.

    Gail Mirfin Gail Mirfin 6:18 pm 09 Jan 21

    Adrienne - schools need to proactively provide input into any behavior management plan as there will be information on triggers that might be unique to the school environment. Also, many parents pass on such plans to schools but the school still fails to meet the needs of the child (to busy to review plans, inadequate training, to high workloads, not enough support). Child gets triggered, child lashed out, child gets suspended, child’s anxiety worsens, parents end up home schooling the child.

Sarah O'Rourke Sarah O'Rourke 10:50 pm 07 Jan 21

There are so many aspects to a situation like this. Every child has the right to feel safe at school and to receive a quality education. Unfortunately, in my view, we as a society do not value education as highly as we should and therefore do not agitate for greater government spending to support ALL kids.

We care for a little one who is regularly suspended. This only adds more pressure on his primary carer as the respite afforded by school is taken away. The child in question does not have the capacity to ‘learn a lesson’ from the suspension.

    May Mac May Mac 11:57 pm 07 Jan 21

    Sarah O'Rourke "not the only child with disabilities at the school .. allocated a shared Learning Support Assistant"

    I wondered why they haven't funded an individual assistant, it sounds like for everyone's sake that would be a worthwhile investment.

    Meh My Meh My 12:11 pm 11 Jan 21

    Sarah O'Rourke I think many carers of students with additional needs value education, hence the many complaints to the ACT Education Directorate about inadequate supports and responses to school-based issues. While we don't know the exact number of complaints the Education Directorate receives each week/month/year, this ACAT case sets an important precedent, puts the Directorate on notice and gives carers a way forward in terms of complaining, being heard and having issues resolved independently for our precious kids.

Sez Mum Sez Mum 9:41 pm 07 Jan 21

My son has been the target of a "mentally unwell" bully last year and he's had all of that happening to him daily as well as his first sexual assault, in the classroom, in front of a teacher. He's had x-rays and doctors trips for various injuries for half the year, after the bullying escalated, suddenly and alarmingly.

Nothing has happened to the bully at all. They're a protected species. Meanwhile my son, for the first time in his school life, doesn't want to go this year. I don't blame him when he is not being protected.

    Krystal Zoe Krystal Zoe 10:11 pm 07 Jan 21

    Sarah Baird I'm so sorry. My heart goes out to you and your special little guy. 😪

    Sez Mum Sez Mum 10:14 pm 07 Jan 21

    Krystal Zoe thank you, mate.

    And with that comment, you've done miles more than the school ever did. 👍🏽

    Adam Butchart Adam Butchart 11:00 pm 07 Jan 21

    Sarah Baird it appears that the mentally unwell kids are a protected species, whilst all those kids and teachers that suffer due to their behavior are ignored. It is a hopeless situation - whilst the system obviously needs to do all it can to support kids with special needs, the disruption and distress that often is subjected on others is not right either. Often the teachers are abused and their hands are tied.

    Vanessa McIntosh Vanessa McIntosh 11:53 pm 07 Jan 21

    Krystal Zoe this is the exact problem we are having with Jessie’s bully

    I’m aware that this child has the right to learn and be in a classroom as much as any other child, but it puts my child in danger

    So to solve the problem the school decided to separate them into different classes next year

    Except they put Jess in a class with no friends in it 🤨 and I went through the list, Not. A. Single. One.

    She’s so scared to go back because the school has alienated her from every one of her friends 😩

    Safe to say they’ll be fixing it before school starts but still

    Anxiety through the roof right now

    Sez Mum Sez Mum 12:15 am 08 Jan 21

    Adam Butchart yes. Exactly, they are protected. The kid has changed his meds repeatedly all year and comes to school bragging about how he's been pretending to take them to his mother, not taking them and stockpiling them.

    He has a "hit list" of students he's activity trying to make leave the school. My son is on top of this list.

    The absolute gall of the parents as well.

    The school is known for their poor record when it comes to bullying. I guess when they have teachers there who bully other teachers and kids, what do you expect. 🤦🏽‍♂️

    Chris Johnston Chris Johnston 6:27 am 08 Jan 21

    We had a very similar incident in our home town (with a small local school).

    My son was the target of an aggressive child with disability and it escalated to a point he was fearful of going to school. While no serious injury occurred to that point, the fear my son felt was equivalent to a serious injury.

    The school chose not to act, so we chose to withdraw my son and home educate. Best decision ever - I didn't realise how anxious my son had become until I had him at home and he began to relax.

    There needs to be a safe place for all children at school and an appropriate learning environment for children with disability. It is hard for both sides.

    Gail Mirfin Gail Mirfin 6:12 pm 09 Jan 21

    Adam you need to think bigger picture. The overarching issue is inadequate teacher training and lack of funding for schools. When the needs of all kids (including disabled) are not met, then yes a child can get distressed and lash out. Schools can’t fail to meet the needs of the children, fail to implement agreed Individual Learning Plan (ILP) strategies and accommodations, do things that they know trigger a child and then blame the child/parents when the situation goes pear shaped. It is very unfair to refer to disabled children as a protected species. Although there are some protections enshrined in disability legislation perhaps that’s what you are confused with? - schools can’t fail to do what they are supposed to and then exclude a child.

    Sez Mum Sez Mum 6:41 pm 09 Jan 21

    Gail Mirfin it's not Adams job to think big picture. His job is to protect his child. It's the department's job and the schools job to do that. Of course we as parents think of the child who is the bully in terms of how we can manage the situation and what we can do to deal with it appropriately. We are saying the school doesn't help us!! They protect the bully.

    Gail Mirfin Gail Mirfin 6:44 pm 09 Jan 21

    Sarah - I get your point . .. but ... if parents demanded more from the Education system, instead of blaming children who were lashing out due to their needs not being met, we might actually get somewhere. We might actually get Psychologists, OTs, speech therapists embedded in schools (as opposed to offers of Chaplains 🤦‍♀️).

Kasumi San Kasumi San 8:57 pm 07 Jan 21

If all school staff and communities as a whole, including parents of all students had more education and willingness to be inclusive, there would be the skills available to keep children emotionally regulated and these instances of violence would not need to happen.

Children with disabilities should be in mainstream settings as much as possible, but schools need to have the resources to learn about and value difference and diversity.

I have 2 children, one with disability, and one without. There is an empathy in my daughter that I would have never been able to parent without my son being in our family. I could not wish for a better quality. These opportunities to learn empathy, inclusion and acceptance should be harnessed.

    Bek Clark Bek Clark 10:46 am 08 Jan 21

    Outside the theatre of war, I cannot think of a single scenario where violence "needed" to happen.

    Kasumi San Kasumi San 11:07 am 08 Jan 21

    children respond when they are feeling unsupported and unsafe. When they have communications deficits this can be done with actions that can be interpreted as violence.

    Children with invisible disabilities can have problems emotionally regulating and controlling their behaviour and actions. This is not their choice, it’s their disability.

    You are right, violence does not need to happen, and it won’t if children are supported and feel safe.

    Lisa Haureliuk Lisa Haureliuk 5:25 pm 09 Jan 21

    Kasumi, 100 % spot on. As a mother of 2 boys with disabilities and one NT daughter, this is exactly what needs to happen.

    Amy Iacullo Amy Iacullo 9:35 pm 10 Jan 21

    Bek Clark because the child “needed” to communicate the way he felt. Perhaps not in an ideal way socially but if he isn’t supported to do otherwise how else would you expect a person to act?

Lisa Shiels Lisa Shiels 8:28 pm 07 Jan 21

Very sad but I don’t think the other kids should have to be disadvantaged by constant disruption to their learning.

    Gail Mirfin Gail Mirfin 5:39 pm 09 Jan 21

    Very sad but I don’t think disabled students should go without appropriate accommodations just because they cost extra money, staff aren’t trained ... and federal funding is focused on chaplains instead of psychologists, occupational therapists etc.

Ann Ronning Ann Ronning 8:24 pm 07 Jan 21

I am genuinely shocked the parents took this all the way to ACAT over a single day suspension.

    Gail Mirfin Gail Mirfin 6:05 pm 09 Jan 21

    Maybe the parents had enough of the school failing to meet the needs of their child and then being blamed for the fallout?

Monica Tiffen Monica Tiffen 7:58 pm 07 Jan 21

Poor Principal. To be put into such a position!! And to have to take criticism of , in my opinion, the only sensible action. The child should have Specialist Schooling, or , Education becoming the responsibility of the Parents.

    Gail Mirfin Gail Mirfin 5:38 pm 09 Jan 21

    If the principal and school was meeting the needs of ALL children in the first place (not just the non-disabled ones) chances are the child would not have been distressed and lashed out. Saying the child should have specialist schooling or just be educated by the parents is a cop out.

Lori J Tas Lori J Tas 7:00 pm 07 Jan 21

Gosh, 7 years old and pushing girls into walls saying "stupid girls... I'll kill them" 😰

    Sarah Roarty Sarah Roarty 7:01 pm 07 Jan 21

    Lori J Tas I think you might have missed a critical point in terms of the child’s disability. This is not a “naughty” or “bad” child. This is not representative of the home environment of the child or the parents.

    Lori J Tas Lori J Tas 7:03 pm 07 Jan 21

    Sarah Roarty no, I read it carefully, and recognise that he has "epilepsy, poor motor skills and difficulty controlling his emotions".

    Sarah Roarty Sarah Roarty 7:03 pm 07 Jan 21

    Lori J Tas wow and you still pass judgement on the child. 👌

    Lori J Tas Lori J Tas 7:05 pm 07 Jan 21

    Sarah Roarty equally it took judgement for you to surmise that "this is not representative of the home environment of the child or the parents".

    We're all applying our judgement/critical thinking skills to the article.

    Lynne Meredith Lynne Meredith 7:21 pm 07 Jan 21

    Sarah Roarty I’m have an autistic child and one with anger management issues...

    Are you really suggesting that the other children should just accept this child is going to hurt them????

    Disability does not negate consequences for poor bahaviour!

    If this child is hurting other children and making statements like stupid girls... I’ll kill them he should bear the consequences of his actions! I am sick and tired of people playing the disability card to excuse unacceptable bahaviour.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 7:22 pm 07 Jan 21

    Sarah Roarty not so much passing judgement, but being disturbed

    Kriso Hadskini Kriso Hadskini 7:24 pm 07 Jan 21

    No one in these matters ever speaks about the trauma of the children that have the violent acts aimed at them. Yes, the violence may be due to disability, does that mean the violence does not affect the others who it is aimed at? No.

    Sarah Roarty Sarah Roarty 7:53 pm 07 Jan 21

    Of course I’m not condoning the behaviour or ignoring the impact on the children who have been hurt. I’m suggesting that the comment was unnecessary and judgmental, which is the last thing this kid or his parents need.

    Cathy Louise Cathy Louise 8:06 pm 07 Jan 21

    Kriso Hadskini the ACAT decision quite clearly states none of the children who had the aggression aimed at them were injured and none had any lasting impact. So the decision talks about that quite a lot.

    Cathy Louise Cathy Louise 8:08 pm 07 Jan 21

    Lynne Meredith are you a teacher? Or an education consultant?

    Lori J Tas Lori J Tas 8:38 pm 07 Jan 21

    Cathy Louise and every therapist will tell you of examples of childhood trauma which were downplayed and trivialised by authority figures. I desperately hope that wasn't what happened to the 7 year old girl who couldn't clearly explain to adults if she had/hadn't been choked by a boy in her class.

    Cathy Louise Cathy Louise 8:44 pm 07 Jan 21

    Lori J Tas there were no complaints from the other children’s parents about lasting harm or fear. And the girls account was confused as to whether he choked her. There were also no visible marks. And the ‘assault’ on the other girl was described as a swipe on the face - as in he ran his hand over her cheek. The teacher who saw it said the boy didn’t hit her.

    If you read the ACAT ruling it shows the boy had significant physical disabilities and his motor skills were in the first percentile for his age, so it’s doubtful whether he was even capable of actually causing harm. Maybe read the judgement and then make up your mind with all the facts. It’s not a very long one and very illuminating as to how the child’s behaviour had deteriorated when he was placed under a teacher who didn’t meet his needs. Additionally the Exec teacher in charge of ensuring supervision of his teacher had apparently forgotten he was disabled. The ruling reflects all the evidence before the tribunal, and that evidence did not paint the school in a very good light, particularly the Principal.

    Lori J Tas Lori J Tas 8:52 pm 07 Jan 21

    Cathy Louise the ACAT rulling is 59 pages ("is not very long?"), uses standard legal (elitist/inaccessible) language and at a quick skim certainly didn't lead me to conclude this was a simple misunderstanding.

    Krystal Zoe Krystal Zoe 10:08 pm 07 Jan 21

    The girls are very young, it could take years to see how this event has caused them mental trauma.

    So yes, they do deserve more of a mention and assistance in recovering.

    Tanya Ghenossis Tanya Ghenossis 10:57 pm 07 Jan 21

    Sarah Roarty I’m not trying to be inflammatory here but as a regular joe can you please help me to understand why that alleged behaviour is okay or understandable? I’m truly just trying to be informed but I can see why if a child is being hurt why their parents would want a safe environment for them. Not saying mainstream school is without its issues but why would you want to persist with this bureaucracy when it is so obviously failing you?

    Sarah Roarty Sarah Roarty 7:26 am 08 Jan 21

    Tanya Ghenossis I’m not sure why you’re asking me these questions? I didn’t condone the behaviour or indicate that the other children weren’t hurt. I’m suggesting that the child in question does not have the ability to manage or control their responses and that as a society, this is an issue we need to be aware of, be empathetic to, and not cast judgmental comments when what is actually needed is support for all the families affected.

    Adrienne Yeo Adrienne Yeo 10:58 am 08 Jan 21

    Children are a lot more resilient that you give them credit for. Unless of course the mistreatment is on-going and persistent.

    Beth Chapman Beth Chapman 11:50 am 08 Jan 21

    Lori J Tas Also interesting how some of the commenters seem to take a position of 'girls traumatised = child bad' when in fact it is not mutually exclusive to have both traumatised victims who require support and compassion *AND* an intellectually/physically impaired child who also requires support and compassion.

    I interpreted your comment as shock not judgement.

    Lori J Tas Lori J Tas 11:52 am 08 Jan 21

    Beth Chapman shock and sadness, it's so difficult, I'm glad I'm not a teacher!

bd84 bd84 5:26 pm 07 Jan 21

What a waste of time and public money. The kid clearly needs to be in a specialist school to properly deal with his conditions rather than disrupting the education of other kids and creating stress on teachers. The system should stop pandering to these parents.

    Adrienne Yeo Adrienne Yeo 11:07 am 08 Jan 21

    Unless you happen to be one of “these parents”. I did not read the judgment, so cannot comment on this particular case, but yes, ultimately it it the parent’s responsibility to ensure the needs of their child are met. At the same time, the school needs to be accommodative and work with parents on implementing learning and behaviour management plans. It looks like there was no positive partnership or working relationship between parents and school, in this case. Usually this means parents have to find a new school, but this is not always possible or feasible.

    Rose Wild Rose Wild 10:57 am 11 Jan 21

    Specialist schools are a thing of the past, people have been lulled into thinking that “inclusion” is a good thing, when it benefits neither the “included” child nor the rest of the children. Sure, there are a very few schools that cater to the severely disabled, but for a child with “invisible” disabilities, there is very little in the average classroom.

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