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If I have a disability, do I have to go to a special school?

Video: If I have a disability, do I have to go to a special school?

No, you have the right to go to any school you could go to if you didn’t have a disability. A mainstream school can’t tell you that they can’t support you and you must go to a special school. If you want to go to that mainstream school, and you could go there if you didn’t have your disability, they must give you the support you need to go there.

There are no laws that force you to go to one school or another. But there are laws that stop schools rejecting you because of your disability. These are the Disability Standards for Education (part of the Disability Discrimination Act) and the Equal Opportunity Act.

Sometimes, schools are ‘zoned’. This means that you can only go there if you live in a certain area. For example if you want to go to school but you live 10 km away, they might be able to tell you that you can’t go. Some schools have a “ceiling” on the numbers of students. This means that once they reach a certain number of students, they are allowed to say you can’t go to that school. These are reasons to reject you that have nothing to do with your disability. The law says these reasons are OK.

It is always a good idea to check the information that a school gives you if they don’t let you enrol. The regional office should be able to help with this.

For private schools, they may have reasons why they can reject enrolments. For example if the school is for girls and you are a boy. But the law says that your disability is not an OK reason for a school to stop you enrolling. It is a good idea to ask for a copy of the enrolment guidelines if a school tells you that you can’t enrol.

Your local public school must always accept you.

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