Mum's fury as daughter had to wear nappy to school because it had no accessible toilet
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: Mirrorpix
A Belfast mum has said her daughter was 'humiliated' after having to wear a nappy to school because there was no accessible toilet.
Mum Shelbie decided to remove her daughter, Violet, from Dunmurry Primary School after the incident took place last year.
The young girl had attended the school for nursery and year one, during which time teachers were made aware of the fact that Violet had Osteogenesis Imperfecta, commonly known as brittle bone disease.
The condition meant Violet had to use a wheelchair while at school, making her the only student to do so.
Shelbie explained: “I told the school of Violet’s condition and her needs before she started nursery. They said they were happy to have her in the nursery.
“They said no problem and they could get things put in for her."
Unfortunately, however, Shelbie claims that when her daughter started year one, there was 'no toilet'.
"She had to wear a nappy and there was no other option for her," the mum said. “It was humiliating for her.
"She had no dignity and she didn’t feel like she fitted in with everybody else. It was really hard on everyone, us as parents as well, watching your child being upset and feeling the humiliation for her.”
Shelbie decided to remove Violet from the school in May 2022, four years after she'd first notified the school of Violet's needs.
“After lockdown I decided to keep the girls off, I didn’t want to send Violet back and Violet did not want to go back," she said.
“I thought getting her a different school with better facilities was in her best interest. It was just awful, where was her dignity? It took months to find another school that could accommodate her needs."
Shelbie has praised the new school for having the 'appropriate facilities', adding: "She is able to fully participate in everyday life at school and is thriving.
“Securing her new school place wasn’t an easy process either. I believe it was a result of our persistence, hard work and a lot of stress.”
Although Violet is said to have some anxiety about 'not having a toilet near her', she's turned into a 'social butterfly' at her new school and has 'completely come out of her shell'.
In an effort to draw attention to the issues Violet faced in school, her family brought a disability discrimination case on behalf of Violet with the support of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. The case was settled without admission of liability.
However, as part of the settlement terms, the school has agreed to ensure it will conform with equality legislation in relation to its facilities.
Geraldine McGahey, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission, expressed belief that every child 'must have equality of access to a quality educational experience and must be given the opportunity to reach his or her full potential'.
“This remains the case even when times are difficult and budgets tight," she said.
“We are acutely aware of the challenges faced by many parents of children with disabilities or with Special Educational Needs to secure an appropriate place at a school.
“Whilst recognising the pressures faced by both individual schools and the Education Authority, it is important that all children are in a school environment which meets their needs and where they will be happy and flourish.”
The Equality Commission added the school regretted any upset to Violet and her parents regarding the toileting facilities and that an accessible toilet has been installed.