New Zealand Law Society - School seclusion practices concern

School seclusion practices concern

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Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson says he has written to the Ministry of Education asking whether it is confident leadership at the two schools under investigation for seclusion like practices can ensure the safety and welfare of students.

"I am not yet assured that the issue of children's safety and freedom from potential abuse is being taken seriously enough,” he says.

The Education Act 1989 gives Education officials a range of responses to leadership issues in a school that may affect the welfare of students, including the power to stand aside a Board of Trustees and put in place a Commissioner to oversee a school. 

Mr Gibson says he is concerned at both the length of time seclusions appear to have been occurring without parental knowledge or consent but also, as is being reported with regards to Ruru School, that teachers are not cooperating with the Police’s investigations of these practices. 

“Recent legislation, action planning and reviews related to care and protection matters would seem to suggest that it would be extremely ethically dubious for public officials, like teachers, not to cooperate with Police investigations of potential child abuse,” he says.

“Potential abuse of disabled children is serious and should be condemned as seriously as the abuse of non-disabled children”

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