I want to assure the Deputy and Parents that concerns regarding a shortage of appropriate school places for next September are being taken very seriously.
The National Council for Special education (NCSE) has formally advised me that there is insufficient special school and special class capacity in Dublin 15 and Kildare.
My Department Officials, the NCSE are actively engaging with local schools and school patron bodies to address this urgent and important issue. As a result of these efforts, three special classes catering for 18 students are on track to open in September 2019.
If existing schools, including special schools, cannot provide the necessary number of places, then other arrangements will have to be made following any necessary consultation with parents and schools.
Options are currently being examined and scoped out, in relation to establishing additional special school places to cater for the needs of children in Dublin 15. My Department officials are engaging with patron bodies including Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board with regard to suitable space which may be made available immediately for the purpose of providing the required placements.
As progress intensifies in the coming weeks, I expect the shortage in provision to reduce as existing schools expand provision and informed decisions are made on other options.
I have asked the NCSE to keep in regular contact with the Parents of the children concerned and advise them of progress.
In short, ensuring that every child has a suitable placement available to them from September is a key priority for me and my Department.