Judge quashes school’s decision to exclude student
24 February 2014
Judge quashes Green Bay High School’s decision to suspend then exclude special needs student.
The Honourable Justice Faire has released his decision after a hearing at the High Court last Wednesday 19th February 2014 where lawyers for the 14 year old boy with special needs sought a judicial review of Green Bay High School’s decision to exclude him in July 2013.
The Judge quashed the decision by Green Bay High School’s Principal to suspend the boy referred to as “A” in the judgement and the subsequent decision by the School’s Board of Trustees to exclude him.
The Judge states ““A” is a student with a significant disability which, at times, manifests itself in behavioural problems which include an inability to react when placed in a confrontational position. How he should be handled when placed in such a situation clearly required skill. It was predictable…The incident does appear to have been escalated by the teacher deciding to pursue “A” and requiring him to give up his skateboard. The approach to handling his behavioural issues had been recorded before the incident.”
The school did not follow that approach when dealing with A. They did not speak to his Mother or the psychologist who provided the school with the report and recommendations about managing his behaviour.
“That leads me to the position that there was not a sufficient investigation of the facts by the Principal before the decision to suspend was made.” He goes on to say that this was compounded by the Board of Trustees decision to exclude “A”. His behaviour did not meet the threshold for “gross misconduct”.
YouthLaw says the Court clearly found that the school acted illegally when suspending and excluding “A”, and clearly should have taken into account his special needs and recommendations made by his psychologist about managing his behaviour when making those decisions. Schools have an obligation to students with special needs to consider their responsibilities not only under the Education Act but also their rights as children with disabilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Convention for People with Disabilities.
We just hope that our client can be supported to return to mainstream education after 10 months out of school.