The commission heard the case of 5-year-old Sam, who was suspended seven times in the first 13 months of school. “I can’t comment on how appropriate it is in that context,” Potter said. He said Sam would not have been suspended under the new draft policy.
“There is discretion [in the draft policy] And instead of resorting to suspension, schools have the opportunity to implement other strategies. “
The current policy is that schools must stop physically violent students, regardless of their intentions.
Commissioner Barbara Bennett asked if accidental acts that caused serious physical harm meant that students had to be suspended. “I think so if there is serious harm or impact. That’s my view of whether it’s right or wrong,” Potter said.
“When that is understood, is it possible for the policy to work in a way that disproportionately affects students with disabilities?” Bennett asked. Mr Potter replied “yes.”
“Do you think New South Wales policy is right to affect children with disabilities disproportionately?” Then Bennett asked.
“No policy should have unintended consequences, so we need to revisit it,” Potter said.
The proposed new strategy reduced the maximum suspension period from 20 days to 10 days, allowing students from kindergarten to 2nd grade to return home within 5 days due to severe physical violence.
Disability advocacy groups support plans that make it difficult for schools to order young children to behave badly or repeatedly disobey their homes, but principals call the rules unrealistic.
Principals now need to make reasonable adjustments to students before they are suspended.
Under the question, Potter said there was no document outlining what rational adjustments would entail. “My expectations [is] School experts will have a clear understanding of what is needed to support students with disabilities. “
“The principal has the ultimate responsibility for making decisions.”
Ms. Bennett asked if the principal of one school could take a particularly broad approach to what constitutes a rational coordination, while another may take a narrow approach. “Will students with disabilities face radically different experiences in these two schools?” She asked.
“It would be possible,” Potter said. “I think we are doing our best to tackle the challenges at hand. The way schools respond to those challenges can depend on experience and understanding.”
Discussions on the draft policy ended on Sunday. The NSW Teachers’Federation, P & C Federation, and primary and secondary principal groups have stated that more professional staff and early intervention are needed to prevent schools from turning unaddressed student needs into bad behavior. It was.
The recommendations from the Ombudsman and the Royal Commission “will also help inform us to move the strategy forward in terms of its development,” Potter said.
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Natasia is an educational journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald.