Disability News


Michaela Hollywood
The 18-year-old has spinal muscular atrophy

The South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) has admitted causing a disabled girl from County Down upset and distress.

The SEELB denied Michaela Hollywood access to Down High in Downpatrick because of her disability.

The 18-year-old who has spinal muscular atrophy was prevented from changing schools to study her chosen A-levels.

As part of a settlement, the board has agreed to put special measures in place.

Michaela sat her GCSEs, and passing nine exams wanted to go to Down High to study chemistry at A-level.

She needed a school with wheelchair access and disabled toilet facilities.

Her application was delayed for a year because the SEELB asked for a lengthy assessment. As a result Michaela had to stay at her old school.

"I decided that I wanted to pursue genetics at Queen's University.

"On going to the school of my choice I had a very positive meeting, only to be told the following day I wouldn't be allowed to go, having been led to believe I would be OK," she said.

"I've wasted a year."

Ann McKernan from the Equality Commission said that year should never have been lost.

"The board has a clear responsibility to make a reasonable adjustment to facilitate disabled pupils having access to educational provision," she said.

"What the board has done is that they've agreed to provide her with a tutor in chemistry in the school that she attends at the present and that will rectify the situation for Michaela."

Michaela, although happy the situation has been sorted, said it had taken its toll.

"Something needs to be done so that other families don't go through the stress that we did," she said.

from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northernˍireland/7573664.stm