Thursday, 11 December 2008
Dáil Eireann Debate
279. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if suitable second level placement in main stream education will be found to facilitate a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; the way this child’s needs can be met in view of the extensive inquiries already made by their parents to date without success; if it is possible to meet their requirements within reach of their home in any of the adjoining second level schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45862/08]
Minister for Education and Science (Deputy Batt O’Keeffe): The question of enrolment in individual schools is the responsibility of the managerial authority of those schools. The Department’s main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. This may result, however, in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.
It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act. In this regard a Board of Management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.
In 1993, the Department issued a circular (M 51/93) to post-primary schools, advising of a memorandum of agreement between the Department and the post-primary schools managerial association, that selection for the purposes of enrolment based on academic ability should be discontinued.
Under section 15(2)(d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents choice are respected.
Section 29 of the Education Act 1998, provides parents with an appeal process where a Board of Management of a school or a person acting on behalf of the Board refuses enrolment to a student. Where a school refuses to enrol a pupil, the school is obliged to inform parents of their right under Section 29 of Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to either the relevant Vocational Educational Committee or to the Secretary General of my Department. In the case of the latter, only where an appeal under Section 29 is upheld can the Secretary General of my Department direct a school to enrol a pupil.
I understand that an appeal under Section 29 of the Education Act has recently been taken on behalf of this student, and that a determination in respect of this appeal has now been issued to the child’s parents.
The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB advises parents to apply to more than one school in order to assist in securing a school placement. The Board can be contacted at National Educational Welfare Board, National Headquarters, 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700.
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