EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DISABILITY SUPPORT GROUP
Mr Yannis Vardakastanis
European Disability Forum
Luxembourg, 7 September 2009
Dear Mr President,
On behalf of the European Parliament Disability Support Group I am writing to draw your attention to a recent ruling by the Complaints Board of the European Schools in a case involving the exclusion of a child with a disability (see enclosure: text in French only, unfortunately).
The child, who has a diagnosis of autism and whose father works for the European Parliament, was admitted to the German-speaking section of the Brussels II European School under an agreement signed by parents and the School, according to which the child would receive help under the Schools' Special Educational Needs (SEN) programme. His schooling started in January 2009.
On 4 May 2009 the Director of the School took the decision to exclude the child on the grounds that the School was "not competent" to meet his special educational needs. This decision was taken in accordance with the School's own SEN policy rules.
The child's parents contested the decision and the case was heard by the Schools' Complaints Board. On 31 August the Board found in favour of the Brussels II School, confirming the legality of its decision to exclude the child. They did not accept the parents' claim that this action constituted discrimination (against the child and the parents: it is worth noting that the father also has a disability) on the grounds of the child's disability, nor did they accept that the European Schools are bound by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, even though the Convention has been signed by the European Union and all Member States.
We believe that this decision by a European body has serious implications for the rights of people with disabilities and that the European Disability Forum should take action to have the decision reversed. Although the European Schools are not a European institution and are governed by a Board of Governors on which each Member State is represented and has a vote, they are funded from the European Union budget and, far from excluding children with disabilities, should be a European model of inclusion for Member States to follow. Furthermore the European Commission is represented on the Board of Governors.
I am therefore asking you to raise this issue with the Board of Governors of the European Schools and to make use of the contacts you have with the European Parliament and the European Commission to see what measures can be taken to ensure that entitled children with disabilities are not subject to such exclusion decisions by the European Schools in the future.
(sgd) Philip Scott