A Falls Creek family has removed their severely disabled son from school because his safety can’t be guaranteed.
Kim and Stephen Taylor’s son, Zeke, has cerebral palsy and is classed as a spastic quadriplegic.
The 14-year-old has attended the Havenlee School at North Nowra for almost 10 years but his parents say a growing list of injuries have prompted them to withdraw him from the school.
Mrs Taylor said the latest incident, two months ago, in which he had skin gouged out of his scalp was the “last straw”.
“Over the years he’s been bitten, punched, pushed over in his standing frame, had his hearing aids pulled out a number of times to the extent where we don’t even send them with him to school anymore,” she said.
“He’s had things thrown at him, been scratched and screamed at.
“I know it is a special school and things happen but this is too much.
“Zeke can move his arms and legs but can’t walk or talk or do anything for himself. He can’t defend himself.
“He’s not paralysed but his brain often won’t let him do what he wants to do.
“When you send your child to school you expect things may happen in a mainstream school, not a special needs school.
“It is a terrific school, but also a tough environment and the staff do the best they can but more is needed.”
After the latest incident Mrs Taylor took her concerns to the school and Education Department officials and an aide was allocated to her son for two months.
But when that service was withdrawn, with the family told it was not a funding issue but Zeke did not warrant one-on-one care, they removed him from the school a week ago.
“I can’t get any guarantees he won’t get hurt again,” Mrs Taylor said.
Talks with the education director led to an independent assessment of the situation, which made a few suggestions to try to make the environment safer.
“The Education Department did say they would allow me to be his carer at school but I think I would be too protective. I have health issues of my own and I don’t think I would cope,” Mrs Taylor said.
The family says they now have no idea what will happen.
The Department of Education and Communities said the health and safety of students and staff in schools was of paramount importance.
“In the last two years there have been two minor incidents which have involved the student in question, and on both occasions there was no premeditated action by any other student,” a DEC spokesperson said.
“This year the student was accidentally scratched by another student at which time the family approached the school and DEC, and a full-time aide was supplied until an independent review could take place.
“Two qualified independent observers, on two separate occasions, visited the school to observe the student’s typical school activities and program, and both recommended that the student was safe and well looked after in his regular classroom setting.
“Additionally the school incorporated some changes to his routines to minimise any further risk of incidents.”