The mother of a four-year-old Maltese boy with autism has said she forgives the LSA involved in an incident with her son, saying she spoke out publicly not to point fingers at the LSA’s behaviour or lack of training, but to point out the way authorities reacted yesterday after she complained.
Sefora Tabone has now removed her son Diego from the state-run morning service Breakfast Club – not because of the incident, however, but because of the way authorities reacted to her reporting the situation.
Sefora Tabone wanted to make it clear that “in no way am I saying that my child shouldn’t be disciplined”
“Our main interest in all of this matter always was and still is the wellbeing of the children,” Sefora said. “I forgive the actions of the LSA, everyone is human. I have nothing personal against the LSA involved – I am just questioning the way things were approached… My whole point was the chair forbidding me to enter the class the day after I complained.”
Sefora had complained about the incident last Friday, when her son Diego was left ‘gasping for breathe’ after an interaction with an LSA, meeting the Head of School twice as well as the College Principal following the incident.
However, instead of feeling like any of them had listened to her concerns, she showed up to the Breakfast Club yesterday to find a chair with the words ‘No parents beyond this point’ printed on an A4 paper attached to it, leading to her opening up about the experience on social media.
A spokesperson from the Education Ministry said it will continue to support and train all educators
“After Friday’s incident, the Head of School met twice with the concerned parent to assist her in all possible ways and College Principal also spoke to her and organised a meeting with her,” they said. “The mother already expressed appreciation for their assistance. In the meantime, LSEs taking Breakfast duties are LSEs that give service during school hours. Nonetheless, MEDE will continue to offer courses and training to support educators in giving the best education to all students in our schools.”
The Malta Union of Teachers has also spoken about the incident, denying any “mistreatment” and calling for the following of procedure
“The MUT denies that there was any mistreatment that was out of the parameters of work,” they said. “From the information that the Union has, the LSA in question actually reacted in a professional matter in the interest of the students in circumstances where the child could have hurt others as well as the LSA or even himself.”
“Apart from this, the MUT notes that no adult, including parents or legal guardians, can enter into the school without permission”
“The MUT appeals for more responsibility so that children are not exposed to situations where professionals feel uncomfortable working with certain children since they know that everything that happens with the boy or girl will be shown on social media in a sensationalist way,” the continued. “If there’s a problem, the discussions that need to take place occur between the parents and the school, and these need to be addressed by the head of school and the educators according to established procedures.”
Reacting to this, Sefora reiterated her primary goal in reporting the situation
“I appreciate the work of educators – I myself started my studies in inclusive education because this work is close to my heart,” she said. “I don’t feel like I tried to make a sensation in the media – I was just sharing my experience.”
“I understand that schools have procedures – what I am pointing out is that on Friday the incident happened, and then on Monday they closed parents’ access to the classrooms,” she said.
Sefora said she and other parents had been dropping off their children to the classroom for the entire year.
“I’ve always dropped him in the classroom, because it’s the first classroom in the hallway – but if they wanted to block access to parents, they should have done it from the beginning of the year, or the beginning of the term – not the day after a parent complains about something else,” she said.
She wanted to express her respect and admiration for LSAs who have a passion for their job.
“I take my hat off to the LSA that takes care of Diego in the day, I have nothing but praise for her. It is just not the case that I’m trying to attack educators,” she ended. “I understand the MUT is doing its job, defending educators in every case, but before it just defends educators, it should consider the wellbeing of the children first.”