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Erith School treated autistic boy unfairly because of disability tribunal rules
AN AUTISTIC boy was treated unfairly by his Erith secondary school for being disabled, according to a tribunal ruling.
Max Simmons, aged 12, still studies at Erith School in Avenue Road but is looking to move after a special educational needs and disability tribunal decided the school had treated him "unfavourably".
The Myrtle Close resident, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD, was branded a "naughty child" by the school for his challenging behaviour including swearing, shouting out in class and refusing to obey teachers.
He was frequently sent to work on his own in a punishment room called a Behaviour Improvement Centre (BIC).
However, in February and March he was excluded for 16 straight days after refusing to visit the BIC as punishment for an unfounded physical assault allegation against a teacher.
His mum Ruth Simmons says Erith School remains ill-equipped to deal with her son’s difficulties.
She said: "We feel like we have cleared our name and proved they are in the wrong and not us.
"Max has been made to feel he can help everything he’s been doing and that he’s just a nuisance.
"It’s a relief there’s somebody saying the school was in the wrong."
The 47-year-old full-time mother-of-two added: "It’s not all terrible with the school but there’s just not this understanding with staff in general.
"You can have autistic children who are very quiet but Max does need a lot of extra help."
The inedpendent tribunal panel said the school "treated Max unfavourably because of something arising from his disability" in its decision last month.
The exclusion was ruled to be "disproportionate" and the use of the BIC "not appropriate to address or modify Max’s behaviour".
Headteacher Julie Turner said in a statement: "My staff and I work extremely hard to build strong and positive relationships with our parents and it is always disappointing to find a parent is unhappy with the provision made for their child.
"Erith School has a very good reputation for the good progress that we make, especially with pupils with special educational needs and disabilities."
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