Court weighs expulsion for violence

A protracted lawsuit seeks to have an autistic boy returned to the special-needs classroom from which he was expelled.

ABU DHABI // Judges have ordered doctors to examine an autistic boy dismissed for violence from a special-needs centre to determine whether the facility was qualified to care for him.

The 17-year-old American was dismissed in December 2009 from the Future Centre for Special Needs after four years of treatment. His family said he was arbitrarily expelled and sued the school in July last year, saying the dismissal harmed him.

His health had deteriorated since leaving the centre, according to medical records they presented in court.

The centre said the boy had become violent and out of control. But his family said that because the centre specialised in treating children with special needs, it needed a better reason to expel him.

They attempted to return him to the centre through the Ministry of Social Affairs, but the centre insisted it was not qualified to accept him, the court heard.

The family then took legal action.

They said the real reason for his dismissal was retribution for critical comments made by the boy's father in the media about services provided by special needs centres across the country.

The family told the court that the school expelled the boy three days after a newspaper article appeared in which the boy's father was quoted.

Judges at the Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance have asked doctors to examine the boy and determine whether he needed special care that could not be provided by the centre.

The centre said the child had become aggressive towards therapists and fellow students.

It said the family had also been unco-operative when approached by the centre.

The centre provided the court with a report that stated the boy attacked his teacher in August 2008, tearing off his shirt.

But his parents presented airport records confirming the teacher was with his wife outside the country during the alleged assault.

They said the centre had not provided the customary two warnings before dismissing the boy.

The family is demanding financial compensation for the boy's treatment.

The judges have yet to set a date for the next hearing for the eight-month-old lawsuit, pending the completion of the report by the doctors.