Autistic five-year-old suspended from Prep school

ONE of the biggest milestones in a child’s life — starting school — has turned sour for little Jacob Hall.

The five-year-old Preppie, who has autism, was suspended by Bray Park State School in his second term for “conduct that adversely affects, or is likely to adversely affect, the good order and management of the school”.

His mum Sarah said she could not believe the school’s action.

She has since removed Jacob and enrolled him at Lawnton State School, where he started on May 3. She said he was settling in well and enjoying his time at Lawnton.

In a letter to Ms Hall, Bray Park State School said Jacob was suspended because he ran from teachers, refused to follow directions and shouted while in time-out.

But Ms Hall said that behaviour was not unusual for a five-year-old with autism.

“I live with Jake, so I know he can be difficult at times. I wouldn’t be so upset about this action if he had done something truly wrong,” she said.

“But he ran away from teachers, shouted at a teacher and didn’t follow instructions, he wasn’t behaving the way they wanted him too.

“I don’t see that as grounds to suspend a child in Prep … and I don’t think they took his disability into consideration either.

“If he had attacked another child, it would be a different story, but this is ridiculous.

“I feel Bray Park put Jake in the too-hard basket.

“Suspension is meant to teach children a lesson and all it has taught Jake is that if he runs away from a teacher he gets to spend the day with Mum.”

Bray Park State School did not want to comment but an Education Department spokeswoman said it was committed to ensuring a quality education for all students.

“(The department) recognises its obligation to provide reasonable adjustments for students with disability,” she said.

“Individualised support for students is provided on a case-by-case basis … Bray Park State School is focused on providing an inclusive school environment which maximises the learning outcomes of all students.”

She said every Queensland state school had a “Responsible Behaviour Plan” for students that described the behaviour expected of them and the disciplinary action that would be used.

Jacob attended Bray Park’s AEIOU Foundation centre for two years before starting school.

“When he was first diagnosed he was on the severe end of the spectrum, but after attending AEIOU he learnt to go to the toilet on his own, he left being able to count to 20 and he was ready for school,” Ms Hall said.

“I spent $50,000 to send Jake to AEIOU. I re-mortgaged my house.”

She said Jake did not qualify for a special school.

AEIOU Foundation operations manager Yolanda Borucki said specialist early intervention could change the trajectory of a child’s life and give them the best opportunity to access “inclusive education models”.