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Single mum of 5 denied transportation to school for kids with disabilities

Attiqah

A single mum from Manchester said two of her children with disabilities have missed months of school after being denied help with transportation.

Rehana Saleem, 38, is the sole parent of five children, two of which have congenital muscular dystrophy. Saleem said she has been in a long fight with the school district to secure transportation for her two children with disabilities.

Saleem’s son Ammar, 14, was unable to attend school for nearly four months because of the lack of qualified escorts, the Manchester Evening News reported.

The mother experienced the same problem when her daughter Attiqah, five, was to start school this past September. Attiqah is still at home.

Saleem said she was informed that her two children needed escorts trained in suction because of their congenital muscular dystrophy.

Difficulties began back in March 2019 when she was told there was no longer an escort available for Ammar, a pupil at Lancastrian Primary and High in Didsbury.

She said this was due to the fact that the escort was not trained in suction – the ability to clear his airways.
Saleem claimed a solution came about in mid June when she signed a waiver, certifying her son only required the escort in the morning.

“Ammar missed close to four months of school over this,” she explained.

Her daughter Attiqah was supposed to be starting at the same school in September, but after being informed once again there was no escort for the same reason, Saleem was forced to keep Attiqah at home.

Despite her best efforts, the mother said she was left in the dark, not knowing what progress was being made for months.
She said: “No one would give me a direct answer.”

Saleem said her only child who is able to independently travel to and from school is her 15-year-old daughter Hafsa.

Her other children, Habba, 10 and Nusayba, seven, need her to take them to school and back, meaning she absolutely needs assistance with Ammar and Attiqah.

She said: “What I really want to highlight is how a lot of families with disabled children are made to feel like an inconvenience. How there is lack of communication between the agency and the families.

“For example if I needed information I, as a citizen, cannot get further than the switchboard. The council website gives no information about who is in charge.

“Also I feel as though the manager or person in charge does not see the children as anything more than numbers on the page.

“They don’t see that these are children who have a right to an education – which they are hindering.”

Saleem said her application for transportation was approved in August, however, Attiqah was not picked up in September when school started.

She claimed that she had zero contact with the school until November and was not told the reason why her daughter was not being picked up. She later found out it was a suction issue.

Saleem contended that she then signed a waiver again. She was informed last week that her daughter could begin school in January pursuant to a risk assessment on her buggy.

Before this development, a spokesperson for Manchester council said: “Where a child has complex medical needs it can be difficult to source staff with the right medical training to safely support them as they travel to and from school.

We’re in contact with Attiqah’s family and are discussing all available travel solutions with them and are hoping we can resolve matters very soon now.”

Although happy that her daughter will be back in school, Saleem said Attiqah has still lost several months of important education and said she wants to see more being done to stop this from happening ever again.

“I don’t want this to happen to any other family,” she said.

“The major part was the lack of communication, I had no go to person to go to to ask about my child.”

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