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Joint Statement Concerning Special Education Case

Joint Media Statement Concerning Special Education Case


Issued by Hon Lianne Dalziel, Associate Minister of Education with responsibility for special education and Grant Illingworth QC (on behalf of plaintiffs)

28 August 2003

A settlement has been reached between the government and 14 parents who initiated a legal challenge to the government’s Special Education 2000 policy in 1998. In the intervening time, the long running case has been considered in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

The settlement comes after the High Court judge, Justice Baragwanath, urged the parties to negotiate following a 5 day “remedies hearing” in the High Court in July. After a day of intensive negotiation last Friday, the settlement was reached. A copy of the deed of settlement is attached. It is not confidential and may be published without restriction.

The parties have agreed that they share the common objective of improving the quality of educational opportunities for children with special education needs. Among other things, under the settlement agreement:

The High Court may make consent orders concerning the unlawful disestablishment of special needs units in 1998;

Group Special Education will collect and analyse information in each of the 16 special education districts about the ways in which special education resources are currently being used. Information gathered will be used to inform future special education practice and policy.

The exercise will incorporate the views of parents on what they see as effective practices and how they could be more widely applied. Also included in the settlement is the setting up of regular discussion meetings in local communities to get feedback from parents and teachers on special education issues.

The parties are relieved the case has finally been settled and all concerned believe the outcome will be of significant benefit to children with special education needs.

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