The decision of a school to hold back a pupil suffering from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) because of unexplained absences and without giving him the right to take end of year exams was disproportionate, the ombudswoman had said.
Her report follows a complaint submitted in the summer of 2017 by the family of the pupil, who was attending a Technical School.
In her report, Maria Lottidou said that despite the fact that the educational psychologist who was monitoring the pupil had said that he was trying very hard, that teachers should show leniency as regards his absences and that he should be given the chance to take the exams and not be obliged to repeat the year, the school had decided otherwise.
The fact that the school did not seek milder, more lenient and more suitable solutions for the pupils renders the final decision taken as disproportionate, she added.
In their complaint, the parents said that at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year their child, had for the second time, been told he had to repeat the year without the right to sit the exams, a decision they said would lead him to drop out of school.
They said the school’s decision was irregular because they had not received a detailed report on his absences and these absences were due to him being late into class, and not failing to come to school – a behaviour they said was linked to his ADHD.
They added that the school had reneged on a promise to erase some of his absences if he carried out some volunteer work at school, which he did. Moreover, the parents said that the report of the pupil’s child psychiatrist had not been taken into consideration while some teachers had voted without being fully informed.
The Education Ministry countered that everything had been done to help the pupil and that the parents were updated regularly. The way absences are recorded is stipulated by regulations, it added. The pupil had been approved to continue at an evening Technical School. The pupil had a total of 76 absences and the limit is 51, it added.
The report also notes that under new regulations introduced in September 2017, the teachers’ association can take decisions other than what is stipulated in the rules in special and duly justified cases of pupils with serious health issues. She said that these rules should specifically include pupils with ADHD.