The 15th February is a date of great significance for parents of children who have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan and who are transferring to the next phase of their education e.g. secondary education. This is a statutory deadline by when the local authority (LA) must have reviewed, amended and finalised the child’s EHC Plan so that it names the new placement the child will be moving to at the start of the next academic year in September.
What must the LA do?
By 15th February the LA must issue a Final EHC Plan for every child going through a phase transfer (primary to middle or junior, primary to secondary, middle or junior to secondary) even if the school they attend goes from 3 to 19 years.
If parents are not happy with the school named on the EHCP?
Parents can challenge the LA’s decision and the school named in Section I by appealing to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.
The 15th February is a statutory deadline and exists to allow parents sufficient time to challenge the LA’s decision by lodging an appeal with the SEND Tribunal and allows for the appeal to be heard and determined before the start of the next academic year.
What can parents do if the LA has missed the deadline?
If the LA misses the 15th February deadline parents must act immediately and contact the LA to find out what is causing the delay and ask the LA to issue a Final EHC Plan immediately in order to obtain their right of appeal to the SEND Tribunal. Tribunal appeals take time to prepare and once an appeal is lodged a 12 week appeal timetable is set and a written decision is sent out 10 working days after the appeal hearing. Therefore time is of the essence.
If the LA has missed the statutory deadline parents must NOT allow the situation to run on indefinitely. The SEND Tribunal is very busy and the number of appeals lodged with the Tribunal increase during the summer term. To ensure parents either come to an agreement with the LA during the appeal or have a decision by the end of July they must act promptly.
If the LA fails to issue an EHC Plan by 15th February and continues to delay, the child/young person (represented by their parents) can take action against the LA for failing to carry out its statutory duties i.e. by firstly issuing a Pre Action Protocol letter for Judicial Review and thereafter Judicial Review proceedings if all other options available to parents have been exhaustive without success, i.e. such as writing or speaking to the LA.
If parents would like to speak to an experienced SEN solicitor they can call 01452 555166 and ask to speak to Imelda or Rukhsana.