A complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Board against a teacher for doing nothing more than sitting a child to the front of the classroom is a move that should concern all teachers. What teacher hasn’t moved unfocused or unsettled children to the front of the classroom? Discrimination? I would argue that it is discriminatory not to do anything one can to help your students receive the best possible education.
A mother of a year 5 student in NSW complained to the Anti-Discrimination Board because his teacher made him sit up the front of the classroom and referred him to ESL classes.
Ling Mei Zhong complained that the state Department of Education and Communities had discriminated against her son because he is Chinese and wears glasses.
The President of the ADB declined to take action, saying the complaint of direct race discrimination lacked substance.
Ms Zhong took the matter to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. During a hearing last month the boy’s teacher said she placed him at the front of the classroom so she could monitor him because he was distracting other students and was easily distracted himself.
The Tribunal heard the boy commenced at the unnamed government primary school in 2012 and was selected for an “opportunity class”. In May that year he was diagnosed with myopia (shortsightedness) and four months later he began wearing glasses.
Ms Zhong claimed the seating arrangement “adversely affected” and had a “bad effect” on her son. Additionally, she said it would have been a waste of time for him to attend ESL (English as a second language) classes because his English language skills were good.
At Ms Zhong’s insistence, the teacher changed the location of the boy’s desk in term 3 but Ms Zhong was not satisfied. She pulled him out of the school and enrolled him elsewhere.
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