Family plea for change after daughter repeatedly suspended
AN Ipswich family believe they are all out of options when it comes to finding an adequate place to educate their daughter and are calling for more support to be given for kids with special needs.
Tim and Rachel Dobson's seven-year-old daughter Jazmin, who goes to Redbank Plains State School, has been suspended for 14 days this school term due to issues related to her autism.
Over the course of last year, she was suspended twelve times for a total of 27 days.
The year two student does not qualify to attend a special school.
She is on the waiting list for the Autism Queensland School, but the Dobsons have been told it could be up to 18 months before she is actually enrolled.
Jazmin started at her current school in 2017 after her parents removed her from Westside Christian College due to similar circumstances and what they believed to be a lack of support.
Her family thought a state school would be better funded to provide support for her condition.
"Basically the school has a level of funding from the government for assistance which equates to about one-and-a-half hours of assistance (a day)," Tim said.
"It doesn't help when she's there for just over six hours. The training isn't there to monitor these students correctly.
"The teachers aren't fully qualified to look out for these little triggers and symptoms and monitoring her when she builds up to that anxiety level.
"My aim isn't to drag the school through the mud. My aim is to highlight the lack of abilities and resources for these schools to look after my daughter and other children in her situation."
For Jazmin, sounds that would just be background noise for other kids or unexpected changes to her routine are enough to set her off.
"It means she needs to escape that room," Tim said.
"She ends up trying to react to get out of that scenario," Tim said.
"Unfortunately, it ends up with people getting hurt and her running out of the classroom just to escape that scenario to get to a more peaceful place.
"When that happens she gets suspended. So far this years she's spent over a fifth of the term being suspended."
Even when she finally is enrolled in a specialised school it would only be for three days a week, meaning she would have to return to a state school for the remainder of the time.
"It's not an answer," Tim said.
"We're getting as much external help as we can... our hands are tied.
"I've made multiple complaints to the school regional board about what's happening. I've made complaints to the ombudsman for education and I've also contacted the minister of education.
"If the government wants (its Inclusive Education Policy) to happen they need to put the extra resources into it to make it possible."
Tim said the situation puts financial pressure on the family with either himself or his wife having to take time off work each time she is suspended, which could happen "at the drop of a hat."
"When you're needing to take an extra six weeks of leave a year that you don't need to, it starts to effect everything," he said.
"It also means lack of quality family time over the rest of the year, making Christmas and Easter holidays a challenge. This also ultimately effects our other children (12-year-old Charlotte and four-year-old Ezekiel) as well."
Department aims to build an inclusive system
THE DEPARTMENT of Education said it was working to build a more inclusive education system where all students are welcomed and engaged at school.
A department spokesperson said it was committed to "strengthening the options" that all parents and caregivers have to enrol their child at a local state school and receive adequate support.
"All Queensland state schools make reasonable adjustments for students with disability as required to access and participate in education on the same basis as other children or young people," they said.
"Schools receive targeted resourcing in addition to classroom teachers and teacher aide time to help them address the diverse learning needs of their students.
"Targeted resourcing and support services are not assigned directly to students; they are allocated to schools, and principals are responsible for using the resourcing effectively to maximise support for students.
"This support includes access to guidance officers, behaviour support staff, support teachers (literacy and numeracy), speech-language pathologists, and other therapists.
"Schools are supported by the department's Autism Hub and regional autism coaches. Parents may also access support and advice through the Autism Hub."