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(New Zealand) Autistic 5-y-o banned from school after only 3 hours the first day

Nov 9, 2022, NZ Herald: ‘This will be financially devastating for us’: Autistic boy rebuffed by local school

An autistic 5-year-old boy has been refused enrolment at his local school after he allegedly ran from the grounds and on to the road twice in three hours during his first day.

The parents of Brody McDonald say they now face a “financially devastating” time after the boy’s enrolment was delayed by Woodville School in Manawatū — which he attended for just three hours — and despite four months of pre-planning with the Ministry of Education to safely transition him into primary school.

The safety framework included funding for a full-time teacher’s aide to cater to Brody’s specific needs and two weeks of transition visits by the McDonalds before Brody attended on his own.

The ministry told the Herald the reason for the delay from the boy’s brief first day on October 25 to February next year was that the school needs to complete the construction of a fence around its perimeter.

“We approached the school initially [in June] just because we knew the process was going to be a little bit different getting him into school than a child without autism,” said Brody’s mother, Haylee McDonald.

“So we’ve been back and forth communicating for four months. We did five or six transition visits. We had offered to do as many as possible ... but they had still only asked us to have him there for half days. So they were aware, they couldn’t have been more aware of what his needs were.”…

“The board has indicated to us they will be enrolling this child. They asked to delay the start date until a perimeter fence is erected, so there is a safe physical environment that meets the necessary health and safety requirements,” Bell said.

“We have a plan in place to support this child’s transition to school. The plans will be regularly reviewed by the team supporting the young student to make sure his needs are being met.”

According to Haylee McDonald, the ministry had informed them of the temporary fence as a solution, yet they have heard nothing from the school on Brody being able to return.

Haylee and her husband, Leon, said they are now in a precarious financial situation until February.

“We have three kids and it’s getting to the point now where if we don’t get this sorted my wife will have to leave her full-time job to care for our son until we can get him into school. This will be financially devastating for us,” Leon said….

Woodville residents Leon and Haylee McDonald with their son Brody, 5, who was diagnosed with autism when he was two. Photo / Supplied


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