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court ref no: CO/3102/96 ...
court ref no: CO/3102/96

Staffordshire CC was accused in the high court of a 'continuing failure' to provide for the special educational needs of an emotionally disturbed teenage boy.

14-year-old Paul Harvey - whose severe behavioural problems are said to be caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain - has been out of school for more than a year.

And his mother Susan, 38, who herself describes him as 'violent and disruptive', has now taken the case to court in a bid to have his future finally decided.

Mr Justice Jowitt, sitting in London's high court, yesterday opened the way for a full judicial review of the mother's case, commenting: 'I need no persuading that something needs to be done about this boy'.

From the age of six Paul has suffered from a condition known as 'Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder' which his solicitor, Paul Conrathe, described as an organic problem, stemming from a 'chemical imbalance of the brain'.

Mrs Harvey said her son's behavioural problems and inability to concentrate had led to suicide attempts, the latest one in July this year. She said he was 'ridiculed, teased and tormented' by some of his peers.

'He has no purpose in life. He's violent, disruptive and aggressive and it is the norm for him to go around smashing windows,' she added.

Until September 1994 Paul attended The Coppice special school but, although he enjoyed it there, his mother said he was 'excluded' from the school after hitting a teacher.

In January last year Mrs Harvey sent Paul to a mainstream school - Sneyd High School in Newcastle-under-Lyme - but the placement was again not a success.

He left the school in the summer of last year, and has not been in full-time education since.

Mr Conrathe said that since 1994 Mrs Harvey had 'sought the help of Staffordshire CC to obtain appropriate education for Paul's special needs'.

And he accused the council of a 'continuing failure' to meet its statutory duties under the Education Act.

'In the face of the authority's inactivity she arranged his placement at a mainstream school (Sneyd High) from January 1995 to June 1995. This inevitably failed as Paul's needs could not be met in such a school.'

Paul's counsel, Ian Wise, told the court that the county council had not prepared a 'statement' of Paul's special educational needs since 1992. 'This is an extraordinary case which has been dragging on for over two years'.

'It is quite clear from the papers that the appropriate school for this child is a special school.'

If agreement is not reached in the meantime, Paul's case will return to the high court for a full judicial review hearing.

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