Outraged Rugby parents call for councillors to resign after 'abhorrent' special needs remarks

“I want a retraction, apology and for them to step down from their positions”
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Outraged parents in Rugby are calling for three county councillors to resign after ‘abhorrent’ remarks about students with special needs.

We shone a spotlight on the comments last week in our article – and since then, parents and councillors have spoken out strongly against the comments.

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Joanne with her daughter Freya.Joanne with her daughter Freya.
Joanne with her daughter Freya.

Parent Joanne Gillibrand said her heart broke when she heard Cllr Jeff Morgan suggest children receiving funding were ‘just really badly behaved’.

Cllr Brian Hammersley asked if ‘something in the water’ was increasing special needs cases.

The Conservative councillors’ comments came as the authority's children and young people overview and scrutiny committee discussed the mounting costs for local SEND provision last month.

As reported by our local democracy reporter Andy Mitchell, a third councillor, Clare Golby, asked whether the increase in cases could be linked to social media sites where ‘families are swapping tips on how to get their children diagnosed’.

Joanne, who has an 11-year-old daughter with a rare condition, has now launched a petition calling for an apology from the councillors.

It has already been signed by dozens of parents and supporters.

Joanne said: “I am utterly disgusted by the abhorrent comments made by these local politicians.

“I want a retraction, apology and for them to step down from their positions.

“When we neglect the most vulnerable in society, communities fail. I want a retraction, apology and for them to step down from their positions."

Her daughter Freya has agenisis of the corpus callosum, causing the central panel of her brain to not develop.

Joanne said the condition presents as autism, global developmental delay, physical pain and emotional distress

The mother of twins went on: “I removed my daughter from her school because they failed to meet the needs of her Education Health Care Plan. The school failed her and the Local Education Authority failed her when they couldn’t get her into a specialist school.

Parents fight for the scraps they are begrudgingly given and then we hear these disgusting counsellors with their outdated and ignorant points of view looking to berate and undermine the parents.”

Freya is at early years level of education.

"They cannot accommodate her in mainstream due to her disabilities,” added Joanne.

"They also cannot give her a place in a specialist school because there aren’t any. Freya is now home schooled.”

Her daughter was given the life-changing diagnosis when she was admitted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

"I was told to go and have parent classes from a panel when Freya was three,” said Joanne.

“She was later admitted to Birmingham Children’s hospital and got the diagnosis.”

Joanne said she does everything to ensure her daughter’s life is enriched with experiences.

She added: “These people hold a narrative that we are just allowing our children to be ‘naughty’.

"The comments made my heart break.”

The politicians are being contacted for a response.

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