Teen with Aspergers expelled due to lack of resources, court told

By Patrice Dougan

The teenage boy was excluded from Auckland's Green Bay High last year. Photo / File / Bradley Ambrose
The teenage boy was excluded from Auckland's Green Bay High last year. Photo / File / Bradley Ambrose

A teenage boy with Aspergers and dyslexia was expelled because his school didn't feel it had the resources to look after him, lawyers for the pupil argued in court today.

The 14-year-old was excluded from Auckland's Green Bay High last year following an incident with a skateboard and was forced to spend several months at home without official schooling.

At a judicial review in the High Court in Auckland today a lawyer for the boy's family, who have been granted name suppression to protect him, argued a tussle over a skateboard did not amount to gross misconduct, and therefore did not meet requirements for exclusion.

"It's my submission that this incident as described cannot reasonably be regarded as so serious it would be regarded as gross misconduct, so that in itself it would result in permanent exclusion," barrister Simon Judd said.

The boy did not have a history of bad behaviour and the school had used one incident to expel him, instead of using another form of punishment, such as a detention, as they would with other pupils, he said.

It was "the straw that broke the camel's back, because the principal had had enough", Mr Judd said.

"That, unfortunately for the principal, does not comply with statutory criteria."

He later added: "You are not allowed to use your punishment powers to deal with a kid because you don't feel you've the resources to cope with them."

The teenager was expelled after a row with a teacher 10 months ago over the use of a skateboard during class time, in which a tussle over the skateboard ensued.

The teacher had "escalated" the situation, Mr Judd said, by trying to remove the skateboard from the teen.

The school should also have considered alternative options for the boy to help manage his behaviour before deciding to expel him, he argued. Being out of school for long periods of time could be "catastrophic'' for a child on the autistic spectrum.

The hearing continues.

- APNZ

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