London

City academy apologises over disabled girl rejection

The operator of a top south London school that rejected a girl because of her disability has apologised.

Harris City Academy in Crystal Palace had written to Idayah Miller's parents to say her wheelchair would take up too much space.

The father of the 11-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, said he would appeal against the "appalling" decision.

The Harris Federation, which runs nine academies, apologised saying the letter was "inappropriate".

"The letter was written to explain a complex issue, but it was poorly drafted and inappropriate," the federation said.

"We will be contacting the family to apologise."

'Expensive changes'

The Harris City Academy prospectus says the school "admits students with disabilities and special needs on an equal basis with other students".

It adds that "disabled students, including those in wheelchairs, have full access to the curriculum".

But Mr Miller was sent a letter from the school saying Idayah's disability would compromise the school's health and safety.

The letter listed reasons why Idayah, who has been in mainstream education all her life, would not be admitted - including that the school had narrow corridors, small classrooms, steep disabled ramps, only one disabled toilet and two lifts.

It added the school was "not prepared to make expensive changes to the school or compromise the education of the other students".

"It's horrific and appalling for the school turn around and try and segregate a disabled child from her community," Idayah's father Anthony said.

"I feel there is a lot of exaggeration.

"It's as though she's going to come in using a massive machine. It's a small wheelchair."

The Harris Federation said: "When cases go to appeal and are upheld, we always do everything in our power to ensure the child has an outstanding education with us."

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