Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Questions (108)

Martin Heydon

Question:

108. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the options open to parents who believe their children are being badly treated at school but do not know where to turn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15636/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

While this Department sets out the constitution of Boards of Management and rules of procedure it is not directly involved in the management of schools. Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school, and it is the Board of Management which employs the teachers at the school. The schools Board of Management is accountable to the school Patron. Neither I nor officials of the 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. Accordingly, whereas the Department provides funding and policy direction for schools, the Department does not have the power to instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction with regard to individual complaint cases.

In dealing with parental complaints, my Department's role is to clarify for parents how their grievances and complaints against schools can be progressed. The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints relating to the administrative actions of a school recognised by 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 administrative actions of a school has, or may have, adversely affected the child. The office can be contacted at: Ombudsman for Children's Office, Millennium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin 1; tel. 1800 20 20 40 or (01) 865 6800 or email oco@oco.ie. My Department publishes information for parents on a range of topical subjects including complaints at: http://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Information/Complaints-Bullying-Child-Protection-Discrimination/. The Deputy may be interested to know that I am committed to providing for a Parent and Student Charter. With this in mind, my Department is examining the legislative changes that could provide the statutory underpinning of such a charter.