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(UK) Mom quits job over SPED transport; 3 yr wait for ASD assessment

May 5, 2022, Birmingham Mail: Staffordshire mum forced to quit job after council offers just £15-a-day [$18.50] to support autistic son https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/black-country/staffordshire-mum-forced-quit-job-23868135

The mum of an autistic boy has been forced to quit her job after council officials allegedly refused school transport for her son. Samantha Bowe's 12-year-old son Charlie had to be moved to a school four miles away from their home after not getting the support he needed.

The 32-year-old said she had no choice but to give up her job just so she can take Charlie to his Staffordshire school. She claims the council refused to provide school transport but bosses say the family was offered just over £15 a day for taxi arrangements.

The mum said she tried to organise taxis but received quotes of £50 a day. It now means Charlie is often an hour late to class as Samantha also has to drop off her seven-year-old son at school, StokeonTrentLive reports.

Charlie spent six months out of his mainstream secondary school after his family felt teachers there could not support him. He left just weeks after starting in Year 7.

Although he technically remained on roll for several months afterwards, his last lesson there was in October and he had no work given to him at home. Samantha said: "It was affecting his mental health. He was really upset."

After lodging a special needs tribunal, she was relieved to be offered a place at Abbey Hill School in Meir, where Charlie started last week. "It’s the best place for him," she added.

But now Samantha has been forced to give up her job so she can drive him from their home in Trentham every day to the special school four miles away. She says Stoke-on-Trent City Council refused to provide school transport. Instead, officials offered the family a personal budget of £15.38 a day to sort out taxi arrangements themselves….

“Even if they could have taken him, I was getting quotes off some of them of £50 a day.”

She discovered another Abbey Hill pupil, who lives in Staffordshire County Council’s area, qualifies for a minibus to get to school and travels through Trentham. But as this transport is arranged through a different local authority, they can’t use a spare seat on it….

It is just the latest in a series of battles to ensure Charlie gets the support he needs. As well as autism, he has learning difficulties and has the reading age of a six-year-old.

“We waited three years for his autism assessment. He finally got it this year,” said Samantha. She says it also took three attempts to get an education, health and care plan.

She fears the transport request was rejected ‘because of council cutbacks’. The city council has faced growing pressure on its special needs transport budget in recent years and stopped funding post-16 transport for affected students in 2020….