Who should we use as an expert witness?
We have appealed against the LA's refusal to issue an EHCP to our son. He has ASD, ADHD, anxiety and a PDA profile. He is an able boy but is switching off from education. The school have had incidents where he has run off. The situation is getting worse, not better. he is in Yr 6, so will be going into Yr 7 next year. We were hoping he would be able to stay in the mainstream but looking less likely as his behaviour/attitude deteriorates.
Our tribunal date is over October half term which means the staff at my son's school are on holiday. Is it better to have no witnesses and get the Head and Senco to write a witness statement (so that there is no delay), or make a Request for Change, asking for an adjournment? I am worried that if we go for an adjournment we will be given a date a long way off.
The LA are sending their solicitor, an Ed psych, a SAT and SALT. We have nobody!
You are probably aware from your own experience of how overwhelmed the SEND Tribunal is. Because of this, if you apply to adjourn your October hearing date it may be a long time before your appeal is heard. There is also no guarantee that your witnesses will be able to attend any new date.
Your suggestion to obtain witness statements from the Headteacher and SENCO is a good idea. The Tribunal shouldn’t have any issue with you providing evidence in this way and at recent user group meetings, the Tribunal has been encouraging parents and LAs to adopt this approach. If your final evidence deadline has passed, you may need permission to rely on the witness statements in evidence and this can be applied for using a request for change form.
Please don’t worry that the LA has more witnesses than you; this is not the basis on which the Tribunal makes its decisions. At the recent meetings, the Tribunal has also queried why witnesses who have provided written evidence are being asked to attend hearings to give oral evidence as well. If the LA witnesses you mention have provided written reports, it might be worth asking the LA what additional evidence it thinks its witnesses will provide on the day of the hearing and if none, why the LA feel their attendance is necessary?