School backs exclusion of Asperger's boy
An Auckland school is defending its decision to exclude a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome due to safety concerns for other students.
The High Court at Auckland yesterday overturned Green Bay High School's decision to exclude the boy last year after a series of incidents which ended with a row over a skateboard.
Green Bay High School chairman Norm Wallace said the school planned to work with the family following the judge's decision.
However, he stood by the decision to exclude the boy due to safety concerns.
"The decision was not taken lightly. It is evident from our track record that our suspension and exclusion is one of the lowest in the country," he said in a statement.
Justice John Faire quashed the exclusion 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 exclude the boy.
The school disputed it did not hold sufficient inquiries into helping the student.
"The Board has every confidence that the staff involved went the extra mile to manage the student's needs. All available resources for the student were accessed and strategies put in to place."
Staff were focused on balancing the boy's needs against wider safety issues in the school, he said.
YouthLaw lawyer Joanna Maskell said the boy's parents were considering sending him back to Green Bay High School.
The boy, who has name suppression, has been out of mainstream education for 10 months.
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.