Expulsion of boy with Asperger's quashed

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 15:53 24/02/2014

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A teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome may return to the school he was expelled from after a legal victory.

The High Court at Auckland today overturned Green Bay High School's decision to exclude the boy last year after a series of incidents that culminated in a fracas involving a tussle with a teacher over a skateboard.

A YouthLaw spokeswoman said the judge clearly found that the school acted illegally when suspending and excluding the student.

The boy, who has name suppression, has been out of mainstream education for 10 months.

YouthLaw lawyer Joanna Maskell said his parents would consider sending him back to Green Bay High School as it was the only local school he was zoned for.

The decision could have wider implications for other schools dealing with high-needs students, she said.

Schools must put in extra effort to look after students with disabilities rather than expelling them, she said.

Green Bay High School issued a statement today saying it was disappointed with the court's decision, but made no further comment.

The school expected to provide a more detailed response tomorrow.

Justice John Faire quashed the expulsion because the boy's behaviour did not meet the threshold for gross misconduct.

In his finding, Justice Faire said the principal did not sufficiently investigate the facts before deciding to suspend the boy.

During the judicial review in Auckland, the boy's lawyers pointed to emails between the school and the Ministry of Education that outlined a lack of funding for dealing with the boy's behavioural difficulties.

Barrister Simon Judd had argued that the decision to exclude the boy after the incident was because the school was not capable of dealing with the boy's disability.

The boy was excluded from school after he left class one day and skateboarded up and down outside the room.

His teacher demanded the skateboard but the boy refused and skated off towards the school office.

Judd said the teacher followed him and when the boy fell off the skateboard he swore at the teacher.

The boy ran into the office area and closed the door in the teacher's face, injuring the teacher's head and arm. Other staff had to restrain the boy from attacking the teacher.

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