Anti-Discrimination NSW

School had ‘No-crutches policy’

Conciliations: Disability discrimination in education

Published: 20 July 2017

A girl with spina bifida temporarily needed to use crutches after a series of operations, but when she was ready to return to school she was told they had a ‘no-crutches’ policy so she couldn’t come back. This was very distressing to her.

The girl’s father lodged a complaint of disability discrimination on her behalf. He also alleged that the school had failed to provide his daughter with suitable work to help her continue with her work while she was away from school. As a result she fell behind in areas she had previously excelled in.  

The school agreed that they had said they had a no-crutches policy, but this was on the advice of a Work Health and Safety consultant. They said they were later advised that this was inappropriate, and they immediately let the student return to school and apologised to the parents. 

The school said that the student had only missed three days because of the policy, but this was disputed by her family. They said there had been other occasions during the treatment process when she would have been able to attend, but they didn’t send her because it would be pointless while the policy was in place.

The school also said they would immediately apply for emergency funding to make modifications to the school that would make it safer for the girl to attend. However the girl’s father had already felt compelled to withdraw his daughter and enrol her in another school, with significant additional costs.

At conciliation, the school’s representatives apologised unconditionally and agreed to pay financial compensation that would go towards helping the girl to catch up and furthering her education. This resolved the complaint.

What are my State education rights?

In general, you have the right to apply for and get education at any State educational institution in the same way as people who don't have a disability.

The institution must also make any adjustments to their buildings and provide you with any special facilities you need to access their education, unless this would cause them unjustifiable hardship.

This means that they must generally make adjustments to allow you to attend classes, study and sit for tests and exams.

Bac​k to July 2017 - Equal Time Newsletter​​

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