Dad seeks legal case over school ruling

By James HoreTHE father of a teenager who was suspended from school for organising an anti-war protest is considering taking the case to the High Court after her punishment was upheld.

By James Hore

THE father of a teenager who was suspended from school for organising an anti-war protest is considering taking the case to the High Court after her punishment was upheld.

Elena Grice, 15, from Rayne, near Braintree, was handed a six-week suspension following her involvement in a demonstration outside the gates of Helena Romanes School in Dunmow last month.

But, with the backing of her father, Elena appealed against the decision which prevented her from attending classes in the run up to her GCSE exams.

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Despite upholding the punishment, the school has made concessions to allow the teenager to attend revision sessions, but claimed she was suspended for her “unacceptable behaviour in school”.

Her father Peter was critical of the school's disciplinary procedure which meant a decision could not be taken on his daughter's case until after the Easter holidays - about five weeks after the protest.

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Mr Grice, of Vaughan Close, said: “We felt the punishment was out of proportion to what happened. Thirty days was far too long and I don't feel they have come up with the justification for that amount of time.

“Elena is going to have a lot of trouble catching up with the revision and it is not easy to study at home because there are far too many distractions. They have not provided sufficient work for her to do.”

He added Elena would be allowed to attend school for some specific revision lessons, but felt that would cause some problems because she would have to catch the bus in and remain on the premises all day.

Mr Grice said he was “considering the option” of going to the High Court for a judicial review of the punishment and said his family had been advised by the civil rights group Liberty.

Elena said she feared she would now only pass about two of her eight GCSEs and added the punishment had “left her in limbo”.

“I am allowed back properly on May 20, but it will be too late then because revision period will have started,” she said.

“I have not been sent much to help me study at home and I have not been able to go into school and get work marked and I have had no access to teachers.”

A statement issued on behalf of the Helena Romanes School governors' discipline committee said: “The committee upheld the decision made in the light of her unacceptable behaviour in school, which was not related to the peaceful protest that took place off the school's premises.

“In addition, this had nothing to do with the organisation of, or the participation in, the protest. This decision is not subject to a right of appeal.

“The governors, however, listening carefully to the views of the student and her family, are of a view that she should be given the opportunity to attend school for specific revision lessons and any practical components for her forthcoming examinations. She will not need to be accompanied on these occasions by an adult.”

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