I wish to advise the Deputy that the 1998 Education Act provides the legal framework for the delivery of education to children through recognised schools. All recognised schools are legally owned by the school patrons or trustees and managed by a school's Board of Management which is also the employer of teachers in a school. While the Minister for Education and Skills provides funding and policy direction for schools, neither I nor officials of my Department have powers to investigate individual complaints, except where the complaint involves a refused enrolment, expulsion or suspension, in accordance with Section 29 of the 1998 Education Act.
If a parent wishes to make a complaint against a teacher or school they should contact the relevant school authorities. The complaint procedures adopted by most schools are those that have been agreed between the teacher unions and school management bodies. If a parent has a complaint about a teacher or about the school, the first step is to speak to the class teacher. If the complaint is not resolved, the parent should then speak to the school principal. If the complaint is not resolved at this stage, the parent can lodge the complaint in writing with the chairperson of the school's Board of Management/Single Manager/VEC.
If the parent has exhausted the school's complaints procedure and the complaint has not been resolved, the parent can make an appeal to the Ombudsman for Children. The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints about schools recognised with the Department of Education and Skills, provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school's complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the action of the School has had a negative affect on a child. Further guidance to parents on progressing a concern in relation their child's school is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.