Monday, 9 June 2014

formal complaint time

I hate that this has got this far, but I haven't heard anything from the county since I had a holding response a week ago, so I have made a formal complaint. I also contacted a couple of local media outlets late last week, but haven't heard anything from them. I'm relieved in a way; it's just another thing to cope with; but I really have reached that peak of frustration.
To whom it may concern

I would like to make a formal complaint about the behaviour, actions and attitudes of SCC regarding school transport for my disabled daughter.

My daughter is five years old and is now a wheelchair user. When she changed to her catchment school three months ago, it was on the understanding that the LEA would transport her. This was agreed in a letter dated 17 March 14, from our SEN Caseworker.

Our most recent communication, on 2 June 14 from the SEN team, said that the LEA were unable to transport her wheelchair to school or to provide an escort for any sort of taxi service. I responded to this email saying that in the short term, we would accept this method of transport; but by the new school year we would expect the LEA to be able to undertake their legal responsibilities and take her and her wheelchair and her other equipment to school. I received a holding response and have heard nothing else in the interim five working days.

Not only is the county council's response time appalling, you seem to think that a holding response is all that is necessary to any correspondence.

I understand from local taxi firms that the LEA have a structured amount that they pay for school taxi services, based on how long the children are in the vehicle. Because we live in a rural area, there are no appropriate taxi firms close to us and no 'cluster' of nearby children to use them to make it cost effective. Therefore transporting her is going to cost the LEA more money than they want to pay.

My daughter is being penalised because the LEA do not wish to spend the money to support her. SEN say that she entitled to transport. We are in catchment, so she is entitled to transport. Equal Opportunity law says that she is entitled to the same treatment as her peers; therefore her wheelchair, which is her main form of mobilisation, needs to be transported - when she gets her new chair, she will travel in it. SCC policy is that disabled children stay in mainstream whenever possible - and if the school can support her adequately, I see no reason why we should move her to a local special school when it is not in her best interests, simply because the LEA do not wish to pay for transport.

I will be escalating this complaint until we get resolution. I will also be complaining to the Local Government Ombudsman if I get an inadequate response from you and I am taking advice regarding our legal position under the Equality Act 2010 in order to get this resolved. I want my daughter to have a normal life for as long as she is with us and I do not wish to spend my time writing these kind of emails or speaking to the media - it wastes what little family time we are going to have with her.

Yours faithfully
There you are. It says on the response I have got from the automated reply-bot from SCC that by replying to, or sending an email message to Somerset County Council, you accept that you have no explicit or implicit expectation of privacy. So I feel like it's okay to copy it here. It helps me keep track of where I've got to, as well, without having to trawl back through all my emails.

In other news, we were Rainbow Runners at Exeter Racecourse yesterday. N liked her dress, had a sausage and an ice-cream and was slightly confused about what was going on. I walked two thirds of the circuit before flaking, which was more than I thought I'd do when I got there!

Many thanks to all our friends who came along and either joined in or cheered, you are fab.

Donations page is still open!

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