Canberra, Australia – In March this year a young boy who is on the autistic spectrum was put into a metal cage at his ACT government school. This was used as a withdrawal space. Following a report into the incident, after a complaint was made to the Children and Young People’s Commissioner, the Principal of the school has lost her job.
Education Minister Joy Burch was extremely upset and horrified by what had happened and, had instigated the independent investigation.
The metal cage that was made from pool fencing cost $5,195, and was taken from school funds. It was reported to have been used only the once. The decision had been made by the school Principal alone. Minister Joy Burch told:
“Through all of this, my key concern has been the welfare of the child and the family involved and I am very disappointed by the things found through this investigation,”
She further added that the decision to make the structure was “unacceptable” and that the school Principal will no longer be allowed to work at the school.
“Parents need to know they can trust the judgment of those staff that care for their children.”
A separate audit was also carried out but found no other evidence of withdrawal spaces being used for students with challenging behaviour in ACT Government schools. In October The Expert Panel into Students with Complex Needs and Challenging Behaviours will report to the minister.
The principal will continue working for the Education and Training Directorate, but not in a school.