Mum plans legal action after autistic daughter denied school lessons for 10 weeks

Amanda Johnson with daughter Chloe, still waiting for a place at special school in Sunderland.
Amanda Johnson with daughter Chloe, still waiting for a place at special school in Sunderland.
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A Wearside mum is planning legal action against Sunderland City Council for failing to provide an education for her daughter.

Angela Johnson says her 12-year-old daughter, Chloe, is starting to become withdrawn after waiting ten weeks for a school place.

Amanda Johnson with daughter Chloe, still waiting for a place at special school in Sunderland.

Amanda Johnson with daughter Chloe, still waiting for a place at special school in Sunderland.

The mum-of-two moved to the city during the Easter school holidays and, despite applying to Sunderland City Council before she moved, claims she has not been offered any place at all for Chloe, who is autistic and has complex learning needs.

Angela said: “Can you imagine the outcry if I was the one keeping my child off school for nine weeks. I am battling to get her into school, I keep ringing up and emailing, but getting nowhere. I have had to contact a solicitor now.”

The former businesswoman said she filled in all the school transfer forms for her children and younger daughter, Scarlett, nine, was given a place at Highfield Primary School straight away and started on April 18.

But, despite asking for Barbara Priestman Academy when she applied, there has been no offer of a place at any school for Chloe.

She is isolated because she has no friends here and she is obviously falling behind in her education

Angela Johnson

The council confirmed last week, two months after the application, they had just forwarded the request to the school.

Angela, 44, said: “I don’t know what is going on, they haven’t said Barbara Priestman is full or anything.”

The mum said: “Parents all over are being fined or worse for taking their children out of school, yet this authority has not done what it is legally contracted to do and that is have my daughter educated in school.

“Not only are they discriminating against my daughter because of her special needs, they are also mocking their own ruling that a parent can be fined or imprisoned for each day they take a child out of school.”

Amanda Johnson with daughter Chloe, still waiting for a place at special school in Sunderland.

Amanda Johnson with daughter Chloe, still waiting for a place at special school in Sunderland.

Angela said Chloe had been doing really well at her old school in Northumberland, before they moved for family reasons, but now she is regressing.

She said: “She needs to be at school, she is starting with obsessions again and is becoming withdrawn.

“She is isolated because she has no friends here and she is obviously falling behind in her education.”

Cabinet secretary, Councillor Mel Speding, said: “We continue to work with Chloe’s family to assess her long term education. 
“The original placement application for Barbara Priestman school, did not include information about her additional, special educational needs, which is now being provided by their previous local authority.

“With all the relevant information now available, we can reconsider the placement process and what are the best available options.”