CO Down Nursery has apologized for admitting that a girl with special needs was treated unfavorably because of her disability.
The parents of Amelie Cummins, who was born with Down syndrome, have filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Trinity Nursery School in Bangor on behalf of their daughter.
Amelie has a Special Educational Needs Statement and was able to attend mainstream nursery school with 22.5 hours of classroom support each week.
She started Trinity Nursery School in September 2020, and her family said they were told Amélie had to come to school 15 minutes later than all the other kids in her class each day.
Amelie’s parents claimed that school also wanted her to finish 15 minutes early, but they refused to accept this. Her parents evicted her from her nursery school in December 2020.
“It was a very difficult time,” said Amelie’s mother, Michelle.
“I still can’t believe the school made our daughter miss 15 minutes of education each day because of her disability,” she said.
“We felt we had no choice but to eliminate her.”
Photo by Amelie Cummins Kirth Ferris/Pacemaker/Equality Commission
The family filed a lawsuit in court regarding special education needs and disabilities, and was assisted by the Equality Commission.
In reconciliation, Trinity Nursery acknowledged that it did not treat Amelie very favorably due to her disability and that it did not make reasonable arrangements for her.
The school also apologized to Amelie and her parents for the confusion.
“Since then, Amelie has had a very positive experience at another nursery school and is now doing well in elementary school,” Michelle added.
“We hope that by challenging this action, other children with disabilities will not face a similar situation.”
Mary Kitson, senior legal officer for the Northern Ireland Equality Commission, said it was “unacceptable for a student to be treated unfavorably because of their disability”.
“Amelie’s parents wanted her to receive the same education as their other children, but they felt they were facing barriers because of her disability.
“We must provide opportunities for all children, with or without disabilities, to play an active role in school.
“As part of the terms of the settlement, we welcome Trinity Nursery School’s agreement to cooperate with the Commission regarding its obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act and good practices in education.”