Cerebra was recently contacted by Samantha, a parent who had been struggling to get school transport for her son, Kelsey, who’s 14 and has Down’s Syndrome.
Her local Council turned down her application for transport on the grounds that the family lived within a walking distance of 3 miles and there were no exceptional circumstances to justify a departure from the Council’s policy.
Samantha appealed, but the Council stood by its original decision. Samantha then contacted the Legal Entitlements Research Project for help with preparing for a further appeal to the Council’s Panel.
We looked at her case and provided some advice about the Council’s duties. We explained that the Council owed a duty to provide transport to other categories of ‘eligible’ children, in addition to those who lived more than 3 miles from the school. These included pupils who couldn’t reasonably be expected to walk to school, because of mobility problems or health and safety issues related to their special educational needs or disability.
We were delighted when Samantha told us that the Council had contacted her before the date of the Panel meeting and overturned its previous decision. The Council reinstated Kelsey’s transport, updated the information on its website and arranged for a Lead Officer from the Disability Team to oversee transport decisions to avoid any repeat occurrences.
Samantha was keen to share the good news with other families who might find themselves in a similar situation:
“The advice and support I received from you & the Cardiff team and also the moral support from the Chair of the local branch of the DSA were the things that kept me going. The legal advice your team gave me made me determined to keep fighting for what Kelsey is entitled to.
My family is so very grateful and Kelsey is so excited about going to school on the ‘big bus’ (as he calls it)! It is easy to ignore how important it is for children with disabilities to be able to have a little independence in their lives and, at 14 years old, as Kelsey is now, travelling to school with his peers, rather than being taken by his parents is such a great thing for him. He’s so proud to get on and off that bus by himself.”
If you’d like some legal advice from the Project regarding your child’s access to services, please have a look at the Project Guidelines for further details and complete our online request form. For more information, contact us on 01267 242582.