Dozens of children with disabilities are being pulled out of West Australian schools by parents who say they are not getting enough support in the classroom.
- William Anthony, 16, has been pulled out of school and is going to work with his father instead
- His parents don't believe William's autism needs are being adequately met at his high school
- People With Disabilities WA has been working with 40 other families in the same situation
Disability advocates argue inconsistent resourcing means schools across the state are failing some of their most vulnerable students.
The arrangement for Kevin and William Anthony to work together in a Broome truck yard may appear to be a heartwarming example of the bond between a father and his autistic son.
In reality, it was a situation borne out of desperation.
William's parents removed him from Broome Senior High School earlier this year after he began displaying violent and aggressive tendencies, predominantly towards his mother.
The 16-year-old would often leave the house happy and calm but return home on edge.
Andrea Anthony believed her son learned the habits because children with disabilities were taught in classrooms adjacent to students with serious behavioural problems and also shared an outdoor area where William was exposed to violent altercations.
"What was happening around him at school was not appropriate — it's thug, bullying behaviour," she said.
"That's why, in order for him to be safe and to not exhibit those behaviours, we needed to keep him out of school."
Photo Several students from Broome Senior High School are not going to class, saying there is a lack of support for their disabilities.
Parents 'forced' to homeschool children
The Anthonys are not alone, according to People With Disabilities WA.
Executive director Samantha Jenkinson has been working with about 40 families across the state who have had to keep their children home from school.
But she said there could be as many as 100 students facing similar problems in metropolitan and regional areas.
"Parents are actually feeling like they're being forced to homeschool their children," Ms Jenkinson said.
"Because schools don't have the right resources, the right training, they're not providing enough support for the student with disabilities."
In recent years there has been significant progress in WA over setting better educational standards for students with disabilities.
But Ms Jenkinson said patchy resourcing and poor staff training meant this benchmark was often unachievable.
"Schools and teachers need to be including students with disabilities in the mainstream," she said.
"But the resources, the training and the support are actually not there to make that happen."
Photo William Anthony is one of dozens of WA students with a disability who have been pulled out of school.
A lively teenager who loved cooking and socialising, William was a well-liked student and eager to get to class every day.
But when he began developing verbally and physically abusive traits, Ms Anthony was convinced poor resourcing in staffing and infrastructure was to blame.
"Absolutely, it could have been prevented by meeting his needs at school, by using positive behaviour strategies that we attempted to put in place," she said.
Frustrated with trying to find help for her son, Ms Anthony has had to rely on the police for assistance with her son's behaviour.
"I've walked into the police and asked them, 'Would you be able to help me', after engaging with people who were [working] in disability," she said.
"You just do it and get on with it and it's really hard work and stressful so it would be nice to have that professional support."
Behaviour is family's 'dirty little secret'
Unable to be alone with his mother due to the risk of violent behaviour, William has been spending seven days a week with his father, a long-haul truck driver.
Mr Anthony said it has been a taxing time for his family.
"It's been pretty horrific," he said.
"To be honest, it's like the dirty little secret about the level of violence directed at my wife."
It is upsetting for Mr Anthony to see his son spending long days on the road instead of learning the life skills he needs to be a productive member of the community.
"It becomes very monotonous, he spends a lot of time sitting in the truck while I'm loading and unloading so it's pretty boring for him," he said.
It is likely William will remain out of school until his parents feel the level of care has improved.
In a statement to the ABC, Education Department Kimberley Regional Executive Director Milton Butcher said schools were provided with funding to meet the specific learning needs of students with disabilities.
"Broome Senior High School has its own Students with Educational Need team, led by a senior staff member," Mr Butcher said.
"The team includes teachers and support staff who work closely with students and run classes for students with disabilities."
Mr Butcher said it was up to individual teachers to assess the interactions between students.
"Teachers are skilled in providing appropriate learning environments, and monitoring interactions between students," he said.
"All public schools have their own behaviour management policies."