Upheld in whole or in part
Non-public interest report issued: complaint upheld
Powys County Council
Mr X complained on behalf of his daughter, C, that the Council applied its Home to School and College Transport Policy incorrectly.
The Ombudsman found that C was eligible for free home to school transport because of the distance that she lived from school. C was not entitled to free transport to her preferred secondary school (“the First High School”). However, the Ombudsman found that C’s brothers, A and B, had wrongly been provided with free transport to the First High School when they were not entitled to it, which was maladministration. Further, Mr and Mrs X were not told that A and B had been granted free transport to the First High School outside the terms of the Policy, which was also maladministration.
This maladministration was not identified when A and B were at the First High School because the arrangements for the boys accorded with the family’s expectations. Therefore it did not cause the boys any injustice. However, when C’s application for transport was processed, the earlier maladministration was identified and her application was refused. This caused C an injustice. The complaint was therefore upheld.
The prolonged manner in which the application was dealt with contributed to the injustice C experienced. Her application for transport was made in November 2019. She did not receive the outcome of the appeal process until October 2020, almost a year later and a month after she had begun attending the First High School.
The Ombudsman recommended that within 1 month, the Council should apologise to Mr and Mrs X and C for the maladministration, and should arrange free home to school transport for C outside the terms of the Policy, until C finished her studies at the First High School.
The Ombudsman also recommended that within 6 months, the Council should amend the Policy to explain that where students are granted free home to school transport outside the terms of the Policy, they must be notified that their free home to school transport was granted outside the terms of the Policy, and to ensure that appeals against school transport decisions are decided before the start of the Autumn term where possible.