Mother awarded compensation by council makes new complaint

A mother whose complaints against Peterborough City Council's handling of her child's special educational needs resulting in a compensation award of £5,000 were upheld has filed another complaint about the authority.

Sunday, 21st August 2016, 11:30 am
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Compensation of £5,000 was paid out by the council after two historical complaints regarding a child with special educational needs were upheld.

The council issued information about the case published by the Peterborough Telegraph - and following publication the authority’s interim service director for education, Terry Reynolds, issued a letter of apology for several inaccuracies that had appeared in the information the city council released.

The mother has subsequently issued a complaint to IPSO (Indepenednt Press Standards Organisation) against the council over its handling of the information release and the PT for publishing it.

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She said that she was dismayed because detail of one of her complaints released by the council was incorrect.

The mother said: “This has added to the frustration and enormous difficulties I have had when dealing with Peterborough City Council.”

The detail of one of the complaints released by the council said that it concerned the child’s transition from primary to secondary school. However, the mother contacted us to say that this was not the case.

She added: “The second complaint was not about that transition - in fact that transition had been good and we were very happy with that, so you can imagine how we felt when that was released, it gave completely the wrong impression.”

The first complaint upheld against the council involved the failure of the school, and local authority to explain the consequences of the child being taught out of year group, the child was then returned to his chronological year group, missing an academic year, the authority then failed to ensure the school carried out the transition as per the child’s statement of special educational need, and these complaints along with a large number of others were upheld by an independent investigator commissioned by the authority.

Complaint two was in fact made in January 2016 and concerned the failure of the local authority to meet it statutory legal obligations to complete an agreed Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

In a subsequent letter to the PT Mr Reynolds apologised for the errors in which he said: “These errors were caused by us providing incomplete information to the [Peterborough Telegraph’s] reporter and have occasioned further distress to our original complainant, for which we would like to apologise.”

The mother involved also pointed out that the council said that it had paid £5,000 compensation.

The compensation was paid after the complainant notified the local authority that she had in fact not been paid after the article stating she had been was published.

The council’s original statement also said the complaints arose following a letter to city council chief executive Gillian Beasley in July 2015 but the mother said that she had in fact first complained in 
September 2014 but the authority had failed to record and investigate the complaint when a very senior member of staff first became aware in 2014.

The mother added: “The information released by the council was inaccurate and left me more distressed and frustrated and their second attempt to correct that information left me even more frustrated.

“Dealing with Peterborough City Council over a number of years to resolve these issues has been difficult and distressing.

“I had not spent the previous two years working for my complaints to be upheld for PCC to then publish an article with so many inaccuracies. This makes what my child has gone through even more hard to bear. Particularly, when the school involved had concluded after a panel hearing of nearly five hours - which included a city councillor - that none of my complaints were upheld.

“For the investigator to then go on to uphold some of the same complaints, and more, that Mrs Beasley personally apologised for on behalf of the local authority, this is incomprehensible.”

The mother said: “Families in Peterborough expect the provision as set out in statements of special educational needs and ECHP plans and nothing less is acceptable.”

PT Editor Mark Edwards said: “Obviously we published the city council’s information release in good faith.

“The error was not ours but we apologise for any distress it might have caused.”