Delhi HC issues notice in case of school discriminating against child with ADHD

The Delhi High Court on February 6, 2018, issued notices to respondent parties in a case of discrimination against and the denial of the right to education to a 6-year-old child suffering from Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This move was in response to a writ petition filed by HRLN on the behalf of the child’s father. ADHD is a developmental disorder that express as a group of behavioural symptoms including inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. The disorder usually becomes apparent in childhood itself. The petition sought the court’s intervention against discrimination and said that “although reliefs are sought in this petition in respect of the minor child of the Petitioner, this petition is substantially and overwhelmingly filed in the public interest to correct the abysmal situation prevailing in respect of inclusive education in the schools in Delhi.” The petition explained that the boy, since childhood, had gone extensive counselling with various doctors who gave his parents the assurance that the child was ready for schooling. The child’s father then applied to 31 schools in Delhi but was denied admission as soon as they heard that the child was suffering from ADHD. Finally, Shri Ram Global School, Patel Nagar, gave the family a positive response and agreed to admit the boy. However, after the boy exhibited some hyperactivity in class one day, the school told his parents that he would only be allowed to sit in class for an hour, after which he was to be taken back. Despite an apology letter from the boy and an email from the parents, the school did not budge in its position. The petition explains how the school created a situation where the petitioner was repeatedly forced to withdraw the child’s admission from the school and go to another school. Shri Ram Global School justified their act on the fact that it lacked the infrastructure to deal with a hyperactive child. Further, the boy was discriminated against by his teachers and the principal, who humiliated him in front of his batch mates. The school also denied any reasonable solution to the parents. The petition showed how the school was in grave violation of CBSE guidelines on Inclusive Practices in CBSE Schools as notified on October 29, 2008, and on Children with Special Needs as notified on December 24, 2009. The circular dated October 29, 2008, asked schools to ensure that no child with special needs was denied admission, and to modify infrastructure and teaching methodologies to meet the needs of all children, including children with special needs. The circular of December 24, 2009, said, “Any school which fails to provide attention to a child with special needs or makes a pretext of denying admission to any category of a differently abled child will be liable to stringent action even to the extent of disaffiliation.” It was not acceptable that the school deny education to the petitioner’s son since it “is a highly resourceful school, having multiple branches across the city and promoted by many Industrial Houses”. HRLN’s petition also contended that the school’s actions were in violation of Article 14, Article 21A, Section 75 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and Section 17 of The Right of Children to free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The petition prayed for deregistration of Shri Ram Global School, which is affiliated under CBSE board, compensation for the harassment caused to family, and a refund of the fees paid during admission. It also asked that the court issue guidelines defining the scope of “inclusive education” in reference to the children with special needs. In response, the court issued notice to the respondent parties -- Shri Ram Global School, the Ministry of School Justice, the NCT of Delhi, and the Union of India -- and the next hearing is on April 12, 2018.