School admits unintentional discrimination

A school has admitted to unintentionally discriminating against a boy with diabetes but said that it felt that if the case went to a disability tribunal it may have won.

Sunninghill Preparatory School in Dorset said that it had decided on its course of action only in order to avoid a tribunal as it did not feel this was in the best interest of six-year-old Rupert Knell.

The school and Rupert’s parents, who were backed by the Disability Rights Commission, both contacted solicitors after the school decided that Rupert was no longer able to attend. The parents challenged the decision under the Disability Discrimination Act.

The school, which is independent, would not comment on the details of the case but Rupert’s parents alleged that they had agreed a protocol which meant Rupert, under supervision, would test his blood sugar levels several times a day and staff would give him a snack afterwards if required. His doctor had recommended self-testing as he thought it would lead to a better chance of detecting any attacks brought on by low blood sugar level.

The family alleges that Rupert had to leave Sunninghill after they received a letter stating that without full time support he would not be able to stay on as a pupil.

Sunninghill’s headmaster, Alan Dickey, who has been appointed since the incident, said that the school felt that it was in Rupert’s best interests that it did not enter into public debate about him. “This was an unusual situation and the school’s track record in caring for children with disabilities is excellent,” he said

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