Outcomes - Selected Case Summaries

Special education grants

Investigation | 06 December 2018
Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands (EYSAL)

In June 2017 the Education Council sent a letter to the parents of a student advising them of a decision to deny their application for special education funding. The parents disagreed with the Council’s decision and hand-delivered an appeal letter to the Ministry. The Ministry failed to respond to the appeal and the parents filed a complaint with our office.

The Ministry explained that the processing of Special Education Needs Grants had changed in September 2017 as the newly appointed Minister decided to retain the authority for decisions on matters pertaining to education − rather than delegate it as was previously done. As a result, the Education Council did not have authority to deal with applications and appeals regarding SEN funding. The Ministry indicated that the complainants could have submitted an appeal to the Education Council or Chief Education Officer in June of 2017. The parents could have also made an application for an alternative program for their child. The Ministry acknowledged that the parents should have been notified of their appeal rights in the correspondence they received denying their application for SEN funding.

The complainants also submitted a new application for SEN funding for the 2018/19 school year on 1 March 2018, but it was not acknowledged until the Ombudsman contacted the Ministry.

The Ombudsman determined that the Ministry’s handling of the complainants’ request for appeal and subsequent re-application for grant funding was administratively unfair. The parents had a legitimate expectation that their correspondence would be responded to in a timely fashion. No reasonable rationale was provided to explain the inaction and delay by the Ministry. The Ombudsman recommended that all applicants be advised of their right to appeal in all future SEN funding decisions. The Ombudsman also recommended that systems be put in place to ensure correspondence is responded to in a timely manner. The Ministry accepted and implemented both recommendations.