Monday, March 11, 2013

School ousts autistic kid, parents move rights panel

School ousts autistic kid, parents move rights panel

TNN Oct 3, 2012, 01.21AM IST

MUMBAI: The parents of a seven-year-old autistic boy are awaiting the order of the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR), which they had moved after Jamnabai Narsee School in Juhu had asked them to transfer their child to some other institute. Meanwhile, a BMC official on Tuesday said the civic body's education department had asked the school to readmit the child if his parents were ready to provide for a shadow teacher.
As the primary section of any school in the city falls within the BMC's jurisdiction, the panel had asked the civic body's education department to review the matter. "After hearing out both sides, we filed an affidavit before the child rights commission stating that the child should be readmitted," the official said.

The BMC affidavit, filed on September 18, has observed that under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, no school can expel a child even if there is continuous absenteeism, till the completion of elementary education. "The parents were ready to pay for the shadow teacher as well," the official said. A shadow teacher is a special educator who helps an autistic child in his/her studies.
The child has been studying in the school since 2007. On July 6, the school authorities issued a letter to the parents of the child asking them to complete the formalities to get his transfer certificate. The school also claimed that it had pooled in resources to help the child "meet the challenges of regular school life". However, the authorities argued, his condition worsened over the past two years due to his "inability to express his needs to the teacher". Then, on July 10, the parents got another letter saying the school would be forced to send the boy home if they failed to meet the principal.
The parents, in their application filed with the MSCPCR through advocate Pradeep Havnur, said: "If the school and the management were so sensitive and cognizant to the problems faced by children in schooling, they would not have issued the letter dated July 6'.
On Tuesday, the parents as well as the school authorities refused to comment on the issue saying it was sub-judice.
Sources, meanwhile, said there were four more autistic children studying in the school.
Asked about the matter, Harish Shetty senior psychiatrist at L H Hiranandani Hospital, said: "The behaviour of a child does not matter; the school should have the willingness to take care of such children. There are a few schools that are doing it, and not out of any fear of the RTE Act. They have been doing it for years."

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