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Saltney couple claim discrimination case victory over Flintshire County Council

Stephanie and Martin Burton

AUTHORITY RAPPED:

FLINTSHIRE County Council did not oppose the Burtons’s appeal and the authority was not represented at the tribunal, which was held over two days in January.

After upholding Stephanie and Martin’s appeal, the official Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW) document stated:

"The tribunal finds Flintshire County Council has unlawfully discriminated against the child directly contrary to section 13 of the Equality Act 2010.

"In so doing the responsible body treated the child less favourably because he is disabled and this caused the final decision as to the child’s secondary school placement to be delayed, which in turn caused the child and Mr and Mrs Burton to suffer anxiety and stress."

Flintshire County Council was subsequently ordered to:

Write a letter of apology to Mr and Mrs Burton – within 21 days of the date of receipt of the decision – which acknowledges it directly discriminated against their son.

Write a letter to Mr and Mrs Burton’s son that explains it discriminated against him because of his disabilities and apologises to him.

Train staff and issue guidance on the Equality Act 2010 and its relevance in respect of disabled children.

Conduct a review of any of its policies which relate to disabled children with special educational needs.

Draw up a written policy and procedure relating to how it will consider requests for school placements in respect of disabled children with special educational needs.

Ensure it provides parents of disabled children with special educational needs with a written summary of reasons for arriving at a decision on school placement as soon as possible after it is made.

A spokesman said: "Flintshire County Council had taken the decision in September 2011 not to oppose the appeal lodged by Mr and Mrs Burton and actions were initiated to address the remedies identified at that time.

"By taking this action, the council hoped to prevent the family experiencing the additional stress of having to attend a tribunal and a place at their school of choice had been already been arranged for their child.

"Mr and Mrs Burton took the decision to continue with their appeal and the council was not entitled to representation.

"Although the tribunal decided to uphold the claim of direct discrimination, it concluded that the evidence pointed to the council being convinced that it had the best interests of the child at heart.

"The tribunal dismissed half of the remedies requested by Mr and Mrs Burton and of those that were upheld the council has either already implemented change or action is under way to ensure comprehensive understanding of the Equality Act 2010 and relevant law and protocol."

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