Investigation into Ruru School seclusion complaint
In July 2015, Mr and Mrs M complained to the Ombudsman about the alleged abuse of their son N and other students, by staff at Ruru. Their concerns included that N was secluded in a room that Ruru referred to as its ‘safe area’.
I have investigated the use of the ‘safe area’ at Ruru to manage N’s behaviour, as well as related actions and omissions by the Ministry of Education (the Ministry) and the Education Review Office (ERO).
While I have found no evidence of unlawful actions (under the legislation at the time) by any party, or that ERO acted unreasonably, I have formed the opinion that:
Ruru acted unreasonably in using its ‘safe area’ to manage N’s behaviour. In particular:
it failed to consult with Mr and Mrs M about the proposed use of the room or inform them about its actual use;
it failed to clearly and accurately record transportation to, and use of, the room;
the room was unsuitable in location and form for the purpose for which it was used; and
the Ministry’s failure to provide schools with clear and unambiguous up-to-date guidance in relation to the use of seclusion was an unreasonable omission.
I recommend that Ruru: provides N and his parents with an apology for its failings if Mr and Mrs M wish to receive this; provides me with copies of its current policies and procedures for incident reporting and the use of physical interventions to transport students; and provides me with a report on its most recent audit of behaviour management plans.