Thursday, September 6, 2012
An autistic boy has been left to walk an hour to school on his own after his transport was cut to save money “to protect essential services to vulnerable people”.
Kenny Davies, aged nine, of Derby Close, Stevenage, has narcolepsy, cataplexy, and ADHD, as well as autism, but has been told by Herts County Council he no longer qualifies for a taxi to and from Round Diamond School, which is two miles away from his home.
His parents Mandy and Tony, who both work, are unable to take him and only found out he had no transport days before he was due to return to school on Tuesday. The couple said when Round Diamond relocated in 2003, the local education authority promised transport to pupils and future siblings who needed it while at the school.
Mandy said: “We’ve got nobody to take him. Because of his conditions he cannot be left unattended. Whenever he feels some kind of emotion he will basically go into a paralysed state. He can’t even play.”
Tony added: “We’ve been left with no time to do anything about this. I was told in July that he was on the list for transport. They said they had written to us, but we never received that. I’m quite angry about the whole way it has been handled.”
He said they are in talks with nearby Martins Wood School to see if Kenny can be transferred there.
“But moving him from all his friends and teachers is not ideal and disturbing his routine,” he said.
“When the new school was built, part of the agreement was that transport would be provided. We all toed the line with that, and now they have let us down.”
A spokesman at County Hall said the authority had previously subsidised pupils “over and above their legal entitlement” and had cut school transport to save five to six million pounds a year.
He said: “Although we do not discuss individual cases, we are able to confirm that this child previously received free transport, although living well within statutory walking distance of Round Diamond School. This was on the basis that the school had moved to a new site many years ago.”
He added the council are in contact with the family, who can appeal the decision on the basis of exceptional circumstances.