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Suffolk County Council (19 018 991)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 16 Apr 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We cannot investigate Ms Q’s complaint about an Education, Health and Care Plan. This is because she has appealed to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I have called Ms Q, complained about the way Suffolk County Council reviewed her son’s Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has appealed to a tribunal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(a), as amended)
  3. SENDIST is a tribunal that considers special educational needs. (The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (‘SENDIST’))
  4. Case law has established that we cannot investigate any loss of education or other fault by a council from the date the right of appeal to SENDIST arises until the date the appeal is completed. (R (on the application of ER) v The Commissioner for Local Administration (2014))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Ms Q provided. I considered the information the Council provided. I invited Ms Q to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

Background

  1. Once a council issues a final EHC Plan a person has a right of appeal to SENDIST.

What happened

  1. Ms Q’s son, Z, has special educational needs. He has an EHC Plan.
  2. In 2019 Z was due to transfer from a nursery to a primary school. The Council reviewed his EHC Plan and issued a final amended EHC Plan in March 2019. Ms Q was not happy with the content of the EHC Plan or the primary school named in it. She appealed to SENDIST. In October 2019, SENDIST decided Ms Q’s preferred primary school should be named in Z’’s EHC Plan.
  3. Meantime, Z attended the primary school the Council named in his March 2019 EHC Plan. He started attending Ms Q’s preferred primary school following SENDIST’s decision.
  4. Ms Q complained that the Council failed to properly consult her and others when it reviewed Z’s EHC Plan in March 2019. She believes Z should have started at her preferred primary school sooner. She also believes the Council’s failure to properly consult or take account of her views affected Z’s education.

Analysis

  1. We cannot investigate this complaint.
  2. I understand Ms Q is unhappy with the way the Council reviewed Z’s EHC Plan. However, because she appealed to SENDIST we cannot investigate her complaint. Nor do we have the jurisdiction to investigate any other failings by the Council pending SENDIST’s decision in October 2019. I explained the reason for this in paragraph 5.

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Final decision

  1. We cannot investigate Ms Q’s complaint. This is because she has appealed to SENDIST.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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