Georgina Mitchell, SMH
A school in Sydney's west has denied it repeatedly locked an autistic boy in a cage-like structure and left him there alone, despite the boy's mother saying she witnessed it happen and the boy describing how he tried to climb out.
Lynda Jordan said her son Toby, 13, who has a mild intellectual disability, was locked into the structure at the Aspect Macarthur School in Cobbitty whenever he had a "meltdown", a process which caused him significant distress.
Aspect schools are specialist independent schools dedicated to educating students with autism.
Ms Jordan told the ABC's 7.30 program that she arrived at the school unannounced one day and saw two teachers put her son inside the structure as he kicked and screamed before they walked away.
"They had him slightly elevated from the ground. Both had hold of his arms and his wrists and had them turned back as they escorted him through the gate," Ms Jordan said.
"[They] opened the gate to the lockable structure, pushed him in there, shut the lockable structure, turned around and walked away."
She later requested her son's school records through a solicitor and said in one instance he had been put inside the structure, which was referred to as the "top playground", six times in one day.
"It's not a playground. It has an unused boarded up cubby house in it and the children themselves don't call it the top playground," Ms Jordan said. "Toby called it the cage."
However, the claims have been denied by Aspect's national director Dr Trevor Clark, who says Ms Jordan agreed to have her son put into the structure as part of his behavioural management plan, and he was never left alone.
"No teacher leaves a child with autism unsupervised no matter what situation within a school or within a community," Dr Clark said.
"The reason for that is we have got a duty of care to our children. It was exercised at the time."
Dr Clark added the school's principal conducted an investigation into the allegation and found Toby was not left alone in the structure.
Officials from the NSW Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards body interviewed Ms Jordan at the school on Monday after inquiries by the program, 7.30 said.