Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds City Council failed children with special needs

There were "serious and extensive failures" in the way Leeds City Council treated three children with special educational needs, a report has found.

In one case, a severely disabled girl could not communicate as her carers did not know sign language, according to the local government ombudsman.

Leeds City Council said it "fully accepted" the ombudsman's findings.

The ombudsman, Anne Seex, recognised that Leeds City Council had since begun re-organising its children's services.

In the report, Mrs Seex said the council's actions had resulted in "substantial injustice" for vulnerable children and their parents.

Another of the cases highlighted by Mrs Seex was a 13-year-old boy in foster care who was arrested after pulling down a girl's trousers in the school playground.

In her report, Mrs Seex said the council had failed to seek legal advice for the boy and that this "could have serious consequences for his future prospects".

'Totally unacceptable'

The final case highlighted by Mrs Seex was a boy who had been in care for most of his life and who had difficulties coping with changes to his routine.

Mrs Seex found that he had been placed in a school operating from two sites and that the council had frequently excluded him or tried to educate him off-site.

Nigel Richardson, director of children's services at Leeds City Council, said: "I would like to formally apologise to the young people involved, their families and their carers for what is a totally unacceptable level of care."

Mr Richardson, who was not in post when the incidents in the report took place, said the council had to "learn" from the cases. He said a number of reviews had already taken place.

"We are putting together an integrated children's service with one point of accessibility, one set of responsibilities and particular investment for children with the most complex needs."

Mrs Seex recommended that the three children in the report should be given "appropriate recompense" for their experiences.

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