asked the Minister for Education if he is aware of reports (details supplied) concerning the placing of a young boy in an institution arising from court proceedings under the School Attendance Act, 1926; and the arrangements his Department have made to enable the parents to visit their child regularly.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - School Attendance Act Case.
I am aware of the reports referred to by the Deputy.
The School Attendance Act, 1926, provides that where a parent, without reasonable excuse, fails or neglects to cause his child to attend school and warnings and fines have no effect, the district justice may order the child to be sent to a certified Industrial school. The object of this measure is to ensure that the child receives the education which is his right.
I am advised that the case of the child referred to in the reports was before the local District Court on seven occasions between December, 1972 and September, 1973. Between July 1st, 1971 and March 3rd, 1973, he had been absent from school 176 days out of 320 school days. On the first court appearance the father was fined for failing to send the child to school. On five subsequent occasions the case was adjourned to see if there would be an improvement in the boy's attendance. As no improvement occurred, the court ordered that the child be sent to St. Joseph's Residential Home, Salthill. The authorities of the home have taken special care of this boy, who is attending a local national school in Galway. On arrival he was found to be very far behind educationally and was placed in a special remedial class. I am glad to say that, according to reports, he is making excellent progress in his new environment and it has since been found possible to place him in an ordinary class.
My Department considers it most important that the link with the parents be maintained in the case of children in care in residential homes and special schools. To that end free transport is provided once a quarter to enable the parents to visit their children. The parents are quite free to visit more frequently at their own expense, if they so wish. These arrangements apply to the child referred to in the Deputy's question. I may add that the parents have also been invited to take him home for the Christmas holidays.
Would the Parliamentary Secretary indicate what would happen in the circumstances I indicated earlier where parents refuse to contribute towards the site cost and the cost of building of a school?
This is most certainly a separate question altogether.
It is relevant.
The Chair is calling Question No. 53.
A certain interpretation was put on this matter in local papers recently.
An article was published in newspapers naming the boy. This was unfortunate in many ways because it brought the boy's name to the attention of the public in a way that was not in the best interest of his education. It is very important that children be given an opportunity of attending school regularly. This is not possible due to various factors in some cases outside the control of parents and in some cases it is due to parental neglect. I do not wish to make any comment on this particular case but I would counsel everybody not to use individual boys cases as a means for gaining publicity.
The question was not asked from this side of the House.
The Parliamentary Secretary has made my question very relevant. I asked him what would happen in the case of parents who had not the contribution to make towards the purchase of the site of a school or the building of a school.
I have already ruled that supplementary question out of order.
This matter does not arise in relation to the question.
The Chair must be obeyed by both sides of the House. The Chair has already called Question No. 53.