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COURT TO RULE IN FUNDING OF TRANSPORT TO SPECIAL SCHOOL CASE

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Case no: CO/3106/95 ...
Case no: CO/3106/95

The parents of a profoundly disabled Leeds boy have won the right to a full high court review of the City Council's decision not to fully fund his transport to and from his special school.

The seven-year-old boy - who cannot be named - suffers from Angelman's Syndrome, a condition which affects his memory so severely that he cannot sometimes even recognise members of his family.

He is unable to stand independently, suffers from epilepsy, and the impasse between his parents and the city council over his school transport meant that he had to stay at home at the beginning of the September term, according to papers before the court.

But today the boy's parents won legal victory, when Mr Justice Popplewell declared their complaints 'arguable', opening the way for a full judicial review of the council's refusal on 5 July to fully fund his school transport.

After the judge's decision, the city council gave a formal undertaking that free transport would be laid on for the boy, pending the judicial review hearing.

Also challenged by the boy's parents is the council's alleged delay in re-assessing the boy's special educational needs.

In his sworn statement to the court, the boy's father says he needs 'an enormous amount of help', but is still able to 'fully participate in family activity'.

The council assessed his special educational needs in August 1991 and he was allocated to a school, Justice Popplewell was told.

But the family's counsel, Deborah Hay, said that 'R' was removed from the school in summer 1993 'as a result of concerns raised by his parents'.

'There were serious concerns raised about the handling of this child at that school. It was the parents' view that they could not properly send their child there any longer.'

With the council's agreement 'R' was moved to another special school for an initial 'assessment' term. His parents were happy with the new school, and he is now a permanent pupil there.

But in July this year the city council wrote to his parents telling them that, because of the switch of schools, they would have to pay the added costs of transporting their son for the extra three mile journey.

Ms Hay said the parents had agreed to fund the extra transport costs for their son's initial assessment term at his new school, but claimed that the council was now legally obliged to pick up the whole bill.

Justice Popplewell did not set a date for the full judicial review hearing.

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