By ITV News Digital Producer Katherine Clementine
A “horrified” mum of five autistic children is taking legal action against her local council after she says her youngest son was forced to wear a fluorescent yellow bib in his school playground.
Charlie Logan, 7, was apparently made to wear the bright yellow bib at school so teachers and the children in the playground knew he was autistic.
Mum Joanne is now crowdfunding to pay for legal fees to sue Hillingdon Council for discrimination after claiming Charlie’s former school, Cherry Lane Primary, treated him in a “horrendous way”.
On her Crowd Justice page, the mum, from West Drayton in west London, wrote: “This isn't just about Charlie.
“I'm bringing this legal action for all the other Autistic children who are being treated in a similar way.
“It's clear form the way the school and the local authority have dealt with this situation that they don't think treating a child like this is a problem.
“If we can hold them to account by bringing this case then I hope it will have a positive impact on the lives of other autistic children and their families across the country.”
Joanne told ITV News that she has had to remove Charlie from the school after the incident and he is now home-schooled.
It could take up to a year for Charlie to be placed in a nearby school with specialist facilities and staff to help autistic children, Hillingdon Manor.
She said: “He hasn’t been in the right school for his needs.
“I feel like I’m constantly in fisticuffs with the council. They don’t seem to want to give in.
“Ideally I’d like for him to get a place at Hillingdon Manor but I’ve been told that could take a year. The local authority doesn’t want to pay for it, but they’re spending money fighting me in the courts.”
Joanne was refused legal aid so was forced to set up the online crowd-funder to help pay for solicitor fees.
“I’m just fighting for my son. It just shows you how powerful Hillingdon Council really are. And I’m just me on my own.”
Since removing Charlie from Cherry Lane Primary, Joanne says he’s a “different child.”
“(At Charlie’s previous school) they just wanted to change him and mould him but he just needed extra help. He needed understanding. If I hadn’t taken him out of school I’d have a very different little boy.”
Hillingdon Council responded to Joanne’s bid to take legal action against it.
A spokesperson said: "Cherry Lane primary school advise us that reflective vests are not compulsory wear for anyone and are only used with parental consent. There is no legal case against Hillingdon Council in relation to this or any disability discrimination. Ms Logan has chosen to provide Elective Home Education for her son."
Sarah Woosey, Partner and education law expert at Simpson Millar, representing Joanne, said: “This has been an extremely distressing period for the family. Not only did the decision to put Charlie in a hi-vis vest without speaking to Joanne or seeking her permission cause a lot of upset, but they have since experienced the upheaval of moving to a new school which can be extremely challenging for children with special needs.
“To add to that heartache, we are now having to battle over a technical matter which is preventing them from putting this ordeal behind them and moving on.
“We are now fighting hard to ensure that this case is allowed to progress, as we feel strongly that it is important to secure justice on behalf of Charlie, as well as provide reassurance to the thousands of parents out there with children who have special educational needs that schools must treat children fairly and in accordance with the law.
“The Tribunal have acknowledged that there is a need for this matter on timing to be determined by a higher authority and have referred it to the Upper Tier Tribunal amidst concerns of the potential injustice to families if these rules are found to be in conflict with the provisions of the Equality Act.”
To donate to Joanne’s crowdfunding page, click here.