An autistic boy who was bullied repeatedly at a Pakuranga school is now "walking on air" after the Ministry of Education acted swiftly today to find him a new school.
The boys' parents, Andrew and Tracey Hill, said they were "just ecstatic" after the ministry told them that their 12-year-old son would be able to start at the new school at the end of this month.
The principal of the new school, which the family asked not to be named to avoid any repercussions for their son, said the ministry rang her twice today to discuss a directive to enrol the boy even though he lives outside the school zone.
"The ministry is organising a meeting for all parties to discuss the case, with the parents, the primary school, the Ministry of Education and anyone who knows the child," she said.
"There is a process to follow with a directed enrolment, and one of them is a letter from the ministry directing the enrolment, and of course the board can question that if they wish, but we are all keen to work together for the best for the child.
"We are looking for the ministry's support to make this placement the very best it can be for the child."
The ministry initially turned down the Hills' request for a directed enrolment last year, even though the parents said their son had been bullied "almost daily" since he started at Pakuranga Intermediate last year.
Andrew Hill said the family was overwhelmed with supportive messages after the case was reported in the Herald, and their son's anxiety had instantly disappeared now that he had a school to go to.
"He is just walking on air," he said. "It's just unbelievable, we still can't believe it."
The Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford said the case showed that more still had to be done to change attitudes towards children with disabilities in schools.
"The ongoing failure to address a problem that New Zealand children have identified as one of their greatest concerns is a national disgrace," he said.
"If we create an expectation when our children are young that bullying is not okay, they will grow into adults that share that same message in their workplaces, in their homes and in their communities."