Tuesday, 24 July 2012
So yesterday was the big day. I was a little nervous but extremely looking forward to it coming to an end. I hated having Court hanging over me! I wanted it out the way so that I didn’t have to worry that everything I said and anything that happened was likely to be twisted and used against me.
The fault of having to wait till the 15th April for a decision on assessment was driving me nuts. Then even if they did assess it could take another five months to come to a decision. Five months is one hell of a long time when you face the daily battles we do. Trust me If I was able to just pull him out I would but I can’t so I just have to deal with it best I can.
I was told to be at Court for 1.30 pm as trail was listed for 2 pm. I got there pretty early and to others I think I kinda looked keen. I sat in the waiting room and waited for my solicitor and a friend to arrive. Once there we went over my case. Solicitor was confidant. He told me that their main witness was the Educational welfare officer. He told me much of her statements contradicted what she had wrote in letters addressed to me. He stated that she had not mentioned that she hadn’t received little mans diagnosis. Solicitor would tell the Court of my struggles at getting little man to attend school. There was his and my lack of sleep then his morning meltdowns. Despite this school still offered no help in getting him to school. His sister was falling behind and I was worried that she was going to face problems maintaining friendships with her peers. This hasn’t happened and I’m pleased in saying Alice has many friends and is doing pretty well in school. So much for offering me extra help once he received a formal diagnosis. Then thinking about this it’s clear as to why she had not put this down! I hadn’t discovered that the school didn’t have a formal diagnosis filed in his records in till the end of December 09. Her statements had been written for Court in september. Maybe she really wasn’t aware the school had lost the diagnosis till I had told her or maybe she was just hoping that I was never going to find out. Either way to me it boiled down to the same thing. With or without a diagnosis things would remain the same. The only reason provisions had been put in to place these last few months was because I had battled for them and his behaviour had gone off the scale. Then they didn’t want to look stupid in Court. I asked what the prosecutor was asking for if was was found guilty. THREE MONTHS IN PRISON!! or LEVEL 4 FINE or even BOTH.
The time was passing by quickly. 2 pm had come and gone and we still waited. The more I sat the more I felt uptight about telling my side. I had done it so many times I was used to speaking up for my children but not in Court. I just wanted it over. We waited till gone 3 pm before we were called. Reason for the delay was their backlog from the morning. The solicitor had been watching at other cases in the court room which all seemed to be breaches of probation. He assured me that from what he had observed the judges were very fair. Well I was about to find out just how fair they really were.
Stood in a box with a hard plastic screen I felt like an animal in a cage at the zoo. Lucky for me there was a hard wooden bench for me to sit on. I was going to need that bench as I was still in that box two hours later. I listen to the education welfare officer telling the court about my life from her lens. I hated having to sit listening without being able to respond. My solicitor done a fantastic job but I still wanted to throw things at her. I best re word that! I wanted to ask her questions. However she did say in Court that she was understood little man was now having difficulty in school.
I waited for the Head teacher to stroll through the doors and into the court room to tell his side. I had received his statement the day after the reintegration meeting. I was hacked of big time but once clam could see that this statement was no worth the paper it was written on. Lets not forget as Alice’s attendance was a mirror of little mans I was there for the both of them. The head had not mentioned Alice nor had he mentioned attendance! This was my reason for being here after all. All he wrote was about not getting the diagnosis till February 09 and that provisions were in place for little man. Anyhow turns out the Head teacher was not attending. The prosecutor asked the Judge if it was ok to use his statement in court. With this he agreed took the statement and read it. He read it and put to one side. He didn’t even refer to it! Thats how relevant it was to the matter. Well next it was my turn. Nervous No I had sat in that box so long I was glad to leave it behind and stretch my legs as I took the walk to the witness box.
Here it goes my chance to tell it how it was. My solicitor asked me a number of questions in relation to little man and Alice. I spoke loudly and looked at everyone within the room holding my head high, I wanted the judge to see I was not going to lie. I told how the school would refuse to help when he was refusing to go. I spoke off the trouble he had with sleeping and how in turn this affected me. I told them that I had managed to create a very good routine. I also explained that little man had undergone two exclusions in the past two weeks. I also told of the unofficial exclusions. I wanted them to understand what Asperger’s was all about. So when my solicitor asked me to explain what Aspergers was and how it affected little man I was more then happy to answer. I listed all my concerns with toilet phobia ( Locking of doors ) non eating of lunch I then explained just how bad behaviour had become. I was pleased with everything i had said and there was nothing I wished I had said differently. When The prosecutor stood up I have to admit I fault crap here we go. She was scary and I found her to not only speak to my solicitor in an abrupt manner but the judge also. Well it was short and sweet. I read a statement out and she asked if The Head teacher had ever collected the children. I said no. She asked again! And again I said no. She turned to Kim who shook her head as to say No as did the other lady who I think is her boss maybe. I must admit I wanted to laugh. She then asked if I was their parent and did I know it was my responsibility? In which I answered yes of course! And that was it she had no further questions. Shocked I went back to my little wooded bench in my plastic box.
The three judges retired to make their decision. I was thankfully allowed out of my box where I went to speak with my friend and solicitor. He was pleased at how things had progressed and My friend said I sounded fine. I grabbed some water and we stepped outside for a bit. This is when I got the Mother of all shocks. The Head teacher was busy alright! He had left a voice mail on my phone explaining that little man had hit a TA and another child and he was on a four day exclusion. My blood boiled. I could feel my heart pumping so fast it almost leaped out my chest. My cheeks were burning and I wanted to run into that court room and tell them all what a disappointment it was. I knew what Little man had done was totally unacceptable but being here in court listening to the prosecutor saying he needed routine he was best of in school not at home! Made me sick. I called my solicitor out and told him. I almost cried as I did. I think it all hit me. I was soon going to hear my fate. Yet here I am knowing that once I return home I have to deal with all this rubbish again. We could not tell the judge as when they reentered the room their decision was made. Like it or not I was gonna hear it.
NOT GUILTY OF Section 444 (1A) the parent knows that his child is failing to attend regularly at the school and fails without reasonable justification to cause him to do so, he is guilty of an offence.”,
GUILTY OF Section 444 1 (failure to secure regular attendance at school)
I was so disappointed as the Judge had said he understood and that the school needed to pull their fingers out as little man should not be in that school. He said he worries for Alice as she suffers because of little man. He then come out with the however part and that’s when you know things have not gone 100% your way. It was shocking as the prosecutor had requested that had I be found guilty of 444 (1A ) I should serve a three month prison term or high fine. As 444 1A is a lot more serous the 444 1 it can only be dealt with in one off or even both off these two ways. (a) to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale, or
(b) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months,
I guess I should be pleased then. For Section 444 1 I received a £100 fine for each of the children. I also was requested to pay £200 court cost. Maybe the judge felt sorry for me as the authority had requested I pay cost of £900 (thats me rounding it off! It was £800 and something) each child. What if I had gone to prison? I have three kids indoors. Youngest being three months, Then who would take care of little man all day through exclusion. I sure know his dad wouldn’t be overly keen on it. But it had not come to that ( Thank god ) However I did have to go home and deal with little man for hitting a child and a TA. I needed to consider how best to deal with it as it was a very serious matter. This and the fact I had to again deal with the school was depressing. I was at court for the attendance of my autistic son, yet my son was at school being excluded. Somehow it seemed wrong. Really, really wrong