Ruling on student with Asperger’s syndrome suggests teachers must brace for being roughed up

Alf is bound to say he is bothered by a court decision that might result in a teenage boy with Asperger’s syndrome returning to a school from which he was expelled.

The lad – whose condition no doubt explains his behaviour and therefore exempts him from being described as a tosser in this post – had been involved in a tussle with a teacher over a skateboard.

The unfortunate teacher has every good reason to be upset that the student might soon be back because the High Court at Auckland has overturned Green Bay High School’s decision to exclude the boy last year.

The expulsion followed a series of incidents and the boy, who has name suppression, has been out of mainstream education for 10 months.

Here’s an account of the case at Stuff:

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.

So teachers have to put up with this sort of nonsense?

Yes, according to bunch of do-gooders operating under the umbrella of an outfit called YouthLaw.

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

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, understandably, has issued a statement expressing its disappointment.

Alf has every sympathy.

But for the record, here’s what the court decided:

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 Stuff report says, 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.

There is no suggestion in the Stuff report that the funding now will be provided.

So a school will have to provide a service to a student it does not want with resources it does not have.

This may well be required by the law but anyone who thinks this is clever has a condition more easily diagnosed than AS.

They are barking mad.

2 Responses to Ruling on student with Asperger’s syndrome suggests teachers must brace for being roughed up

  1. Barry says:

    I don’t like my employee the teacher being treated like this by a child at my school which I as a taxpayer am forced to fund.

  2. I’m not sure you’ve understood the decision or the facts well, it’s not quite so simple as you appear to think it is. The teacher acted in a way that was inappropriate for the student they were dealing with and apparently not in accordance with agreed approaches to dealing with the student, taking into account their disabilities. The situation could and should have been dealt with differently, and thereby avoided any associated violence towards anyone. To make it worse, the school clearly didn’t investigate the incident adequately, or respond in an appropriate or legal manner. So there are lots of ways the school screwed this one up.

    Understanding Aspergers isn’t easy, so I’m not surprised you’re struggling with this, but please try to understand that it’s more complicated than a student acting out or endangering anyone else, and try not to further demonise the kid, he’s been through quite enough inappropriate attacks already.

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