HIGH COURT/jrb …
18 May 2001
A mother’s legal battle to win justice for her ‘model pupil’ son after he was expelled from school two years ago ended in final defeat on Monday in London’s high court.
The 15-year-old was permanently excluded from St Christopher’s High School, West Accrington, in March 1999 following accusations that he called his teacher a ‘thug’.
N - described by Mr justice Moses as a ‘model pupil’ with an excellent school record - has since been educated at home by his mother with the help of private tuition.
During today’s 30-minute hearing, the judge observed that N’s expulsion ‘does seem a slightly drastic remedy when the boy was doing so well’.
‘He called the teacher a thug and was then out of this school for life.’
But N’s mother, of Rishton, Blackburn, nevertheless had her challenge to her son’s expulsion dismissed.
The judge said judicial review cases had to be launched ‘promptly and in any event within three months’ of the decision challenged, and she had left it too late to bring her case
Representing her son, who was not in court, the mother said N had been the victim of a ‘miscarriage of justice’.
She had come to court, getting on a train from Lancashire at seven in the morning, in order to ‘clear his name’, she added.
But the judge said he had no option but to reject her case, despite the ‘enormous sympathy’ he felt for her cause.
‘(She) deserves enormous respect for the efforts she has taken to educate her son’, he told the court.
It was her case that the reasons given for N’s expulsion did not justify ‘such a dramatic and draconian penalty as permanent exclusion’, said Mr Justice Moses.
‘The boy had done extremely well in school throughout the year, and was suddenly faced with a single accusation that he had called his teacher names and had apparently repeated these allegations during or after the investigation’.
A subsequent appeal to the school’s governing body had failed.
But she later took her case to the local government ombudsman who in May last year concluded that there was ‘no lawful foundation for the permanent exclusion’, said the judge.
The ombudsman had recommended that a finding of ‘maladministration’ be placed on N’s school record.
STRAND NEWS SERVICE
NB - personal details identifying the child was removed in 2009.