Agencies fail girl's need for transport
A frustrated school principal picks up one of her pupils and takes her to school most days because no-one else in the city appears willing to do it.
New River Primary School principal Elaine McCambridge said she had failed to find any agency in Invercargill willing to help Shakala Horn, 5.
Shakala's mother, Shelley Horn, is disabled by rickets and is on an invalid's benefit. She has no car and is unable to take her daughter to school.
As a result, McCambridge has for the past three weeks been searching for an agency willing to help Shakala get to school and back home each day.
In the meantime she had been taking the child to school herself to ensure she got an education, she said.
Since Wednesday last week, McCambridge has often picked up Shakala in the mornings and driven her to school, and back home after school.
"There's no-one else that will do it, I have rung about 20 different agencies... this wee girl has slipped through the cracks," McCambridge said this week.
"I have to do it or she won't get to school, and it's really important for her that she does."
McCambridge said it had been frustrating trying to get someone to take responsibility for the little girl.
"I have spent an awful lot of time trying to find someone trying to get her to school. But I can't because she doesn't fit any criteria. She doesn't have a disability."
Shakala initially got a lift to school in a Go Bus vehicle with her brother, who, like their mother, has rickets.
Go Buses are funded by the Ministry of Education to transport children with special needs.
Shakala lost her seat in the Go Bus vehicle about a fortnight ago when a special-needs child started school, leaving no spare seats for Shakala.
Go Bus commercial director Craig Worth said the company should not have been taking Shakala in the first place because its contract with the ministry did not allow it to transport able-bodied children.
Horn's cousin Melissa Crowe said no-one in the extended family was able to take Shakala to school and drive her home every day, although a friend had done it for the past two days.
"I reckon it's quite sad that no-one wants to give her a ride to school. Shelley has got a disability and no-one is willing to help her," Crowe said.
The ministry's senior media adviser, Matt Radley, said the ministry could not give advice or alternative options without knowing more about the case, but fact sheets were available with information to help parents determine what transport options were available for their children.
The family could also contact their local school support manager, he said.
A Work and Income spokesman said if people were in hardship, they should contact Work and Income to see what support was available and whether they were eligible for any financial assistance.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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