Par­ent out­rage over sex course

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - TIM WILLIAMS ED­U­CA­TION RE­PORTER

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.”

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