Schools have obligations to children with disabilities and their families based on legislation, policies, strategies and international law.
A disabled child’s right to education is protected by law and international human rights conventions.
Unfortunately many parents of children with disabilities have told IHC about difficulties and discrimination in schools, including:
If a child’s needs are not being met at school, you can:
Parents can ask questions and challenge decisions made about special educational support services for their child.
They can apply to the Ministry of Education (MOE) for formal reconsideration under section 47 of the Education and Training Act of any decision made about enrolment in a special school, the provision of education or help from a special service.
Decisions about ORS funding are also subject to the formal process under section 47. Requests for reconsideration must be made in writing to the Secretary for Education within one month of the decision or direction the parent does not agree with. There is more information about reviewing ORS decisions on MOE's website. You can also contact Youthlaw or IHC Advocacy for support to lodge a section 47 appeal.
Even though there is currently no formal means of redress for decisions or directions that do not involve enrolment or the provision of education or help from ORS, parents can still complain about decisions.
Complaints can be made to the principal, Board of Trustees, Ministry of Education (MOE) and its Minister, Education Review Office and/or the Office of the Ombudsmen.
If there are difficulties in enrolment and accessing support for your child with a disability that cannot be resolved by going through the school’s complaints policy and procedures, contact the local MOE office.
If these avenues are unsuccessful, contact Youthlaw Education on 09 250 2670, or IHC Advocacy on 0800 442 442 or by emailing email@example.com for advocacy help to resolve issues.
A new dispute resolution process for state school complaints, using local panels, will be established under the Education and Training Act 2020. The date for establishing the panels hasn’t been set yet.
Children with disabilities are over-represented in the numbers of children who experience stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions, and expulsions. They should not be subject to these measures when the behaviour is related to their disability.
There is a clearly defined process for standdowns, suspensions and exclusions which schools must adhere to.
Early childhood education
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If you have any questions call our Community Connect phone line 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday on 0800 442 311
IHC National OfficeLevel 15, 57 Willis StreetWellington
9am to 5pmMonday to Friday
P.O. Box 4155Wellington 6140
0800 442 442
0800 746 444
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