Belfast Telegraph

Special needs pupil suspended from Northern Ireland grammar school loses court battle

The pupil was subject to four suspension decisions during 2018
The pupil was subject to four suspension decisions during 2018

By Alan Erwin

A pupil with special needs has failed in a High Court challenge to his repeated suspensions from a Northern Ireland grammar school.

The boy, who cannot be identified, claimed the disciplinary actions were unlawfully taken without consideration for his Asperger's and Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

But dismissing his bid to secure a judicial review, Mr Justice McCloskey said: "The applicant's core complaint, namely discriminatory treatment, is of demonstrably frail evidential foundation."

Proceedings were issued against the school's board of governors after the pupil was subject to four suspension decisions during 2018.

Referred to only as AF, his lawyers claimed the actions disregarded his disorders and breached human rights legislation.

They also contended that the school's policies failed to make express provision for disabled students.

Ruling on the case, the judge identified a central allegation that AF was treated less favourably than pupils with comparable disabilities.

He described a delay in progressing the case as a "manifestly excessive period in any schooling context, where expedition is of paramount importance".

Mr Justice McCloskey also cited the "sluggish" progress since, and evidence that the relevant school policy has been revised.

He held: "I consider that the school authorities concerned have, at all material times, taken reasonable and appropriate measures to ensure that the applicant has received full equality of treatment."

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