School transport issue leaves dad in job dilemma

A FORFAR father may have to quit is job as a postman so that he can take his 11-year-old autistic son to and from school – following the withdrawal of the youngster’s regular school transport.

At a time when the government is pushing to get many more people off benefits and into work, Sean Crossan has been left in a dilemma since the family moved from the west end of town to a house in Market Place in early March.

“Daniel was getting transported to and from school every day when we were living in Westfield Loan, but, following our move to Market Place, we have been told by the education authority that he is no longer entitled to that transport as we are living outwith the catchment area for the school,” explained Sean.

“It’s a difficult one for us as a family. We can transfer Daniel to Whitehills Primary, but we wouldn’t qualify for transport because we live so close to that school.

“But, with autistic children, it’s important not to disrupt the routine too much, and that’s why we are keen for Daniel to complete his primary education at Langlands, where he is settled.

“But, no matter which school he is attending, he is a vulnerable child, and the regular transport was a godsend to us.”

Sean went on to explain the predicament in which the family now finds itself.

“My wife Wendy and I also have a three-year-old, Sean-Paul, who has been diagnosed as severely autistic, and he needs a lot of attention.

“Wendy has her hands full with Sean-Paul and would find it difficult to walk to and from school with Daniel every day. “That means, if I can’t get regular transport for Daniel restored, then I may have to consider giving up my job with Royal Mail.

“I don’t want to do that, but neither do I want Daniel to be missing out on his education because there is no one to take him to school.

“He has already missed days at school because of the situation we find ourselves in.”

Sean went on to explain that transport was never a problem when the couple lived in Dundee, despite the school being near at hand.

“There’s never been a problem until we moved to Forfar. Disabled children are disabled children wherever they live, and it’s difficult to understand how services operating under one local authority differ from those operating under another.”

Sean says he has also been in contact with the transport provider who has re-asssured him that the driver would not have to go out of his way to transport Daniel between his new address in Market Place and Langlands Primary School.

“My son is keen to go to school every day and we don’t want him to miss out on his education,” concludes Sean, who says he hopes the local authority will understand the situation the family finds itself in and that the 11-year-old’s regular transport can be reinstated for the remainder of this session and next.

A council spokesperson said: “The council is still in discussion with the family regarding school transport.

“The council’s policy allows for the provision of free school transport to children within the school catchment area but who live two miles or more from their primary school.

“Where a child has additional support needs transport may be provide on medical grounds in certain cases, but evidence of a medical condition is required.”