After complaining about a staff member who told him to “man up” after he had lost his father to cancer, an 18-year-old student has been expelled from his school.
After the death of his father, Jacob Belsham, who has Asperger’s, sought help in a staff member of the Sandbach High School in Cheshire who told him to “man up.”
Following the staff’s words, the student accused the school’s staff of discrimination against individuals suffering from mental health issues in a Facebook post.
Soon after, the 18-year-old was disciplined by the school. Two months later, after another “angry” message that was sent to another pupil, Jacob was faced with exclusion.
Now, the student has taken the case to the Education and Skills Funding Agency which revealed that the top-performing school violated exclusion procedures due to not informing Jacob about his right to call for an independent review.
While Jacob admitted that the school was supporting him in the beginning, things turned worse after he began skipping classes.
“He was having nightmares. He was getting up in the mornings, throwing up and going out of the front door,” his 47-year-old mother, Marie, said.
“He said he needed to get to school or he would get in trouble. They pulled him up about his lateness and his absences.”
Speaking of his grieving process, the student said he confided in a staff member and “told them it was a physical challenge to just get up and face the day” to which they responded by telling him to “man up.” While the student took this as an attack on him, the staff claimed that it was said merely for “pastoral reasons.”
While the ESFA concluded that we can’t be entirely sure about what had happened between the student and the staff due to both sides telling the story from a different angle, the Agency has reminded the school about their violation involving ‘unofficial exclusion.’
According to Jacob, the school couldn’t accept the fact that they were being publicly criticized, resulting in the headteacher calling in not only Jacob but all other students who liked his Facebook post.
The ESFA also sent Jacob a letter in which they confirmed his right to an independent hearing.
“The governing body should have advised that you were entitled to an independent review panel (IRP) hearing to review the decision they had reached. Any further breaches may result in the ESFA taking intervention action,” the letter read.
While Jacob is already attending another college, he is patiently waiting for the hearing, which will take place on November 27, in hopes of having the exclusion wiped off his records.
“The school has behaved in a completely over the top, insensitive and heavy-handed manner,” the 18-year-old student added in a recent statement.
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