Parent outrage over sex course
THE parents of an intellectually disabled student are furious at his 10-week exclusion from school, saying staff should not have pushed them to agree to a sexual health course that they claim exacerbated his inappropriate behaviour.
They initially refused to give consent for their son, 14, who is in a special class at Reynella East College, to take part in the relationships and sexual health education course.
But given their already strained relationship with the school, they relented when teachers urged them to reconsider and allow him to do a modified version.
A month ago the Year 9 student was excluded until November 15 for inappropriately touching another student. The family is appealing to the Education Department to overturn the decision.
“As our son had started exhibiting sexualised behaviour, which the school had experienced and were well aware of, we feared this program would cause him to mimic behaviours during class discussions and apparently that is exactly what happened,” his mother said.
She said they felt “pressured” and backed down “out of sheer frustration at not having a voice about our son’s education”. She added that they had had “a constant battle with the school’s leadership … as the conditions of his enrolment have always been dictated to us”.
“Our son’s therapists advised the program needs to be delivered by professionals in this field (not teachers), one on one and targeted to each student’s individual needs,” she said.
The mother said it was “cruel and heartbreaking” that the school left it to the family to explain the exclusion to their son, who did not understand what he had done wrong.
“As far as we know the inappropriate touching of another student was directly related to his disability, and the Shine SA program being taught, punishing him for behaviour of which he has absolutely no control,” she said.
She said the school had fobbed off previous complaints, including the failure to discipline girls who made a video making fun of her son last year, and not allowing his private therapist to work with him at school, which his primary school had allowed.
Her complaints to Education Minister Susan Close’s office had also fallen on deaf ears.
Reynella East College has been embroiled in two scandals in recent years. One involved the wrongful sacking of a teacher who was violently attacked by a former student. The other was a failure to tell parents about a teacher who had accessed pornography using a student’s login at his former school, and blamed the student for it.
The Advertiser requested an interview or statement from principal Caroline Green and put questions to the department and Dr Close.
In response, a department spokeswoman said it and Dr Close’s office had communicated with the family on “numerous occasions” and offered to organise after-hours meetings.
“To make public comment about this child is not consistent with his wellbeing and his privacy,” she said.
“The school will continue offering its support to the family ahead of the student’s reentry.”