I propose to take Questions Nos. 298 and 299 together.
Under Section 24 of the Education Welfare Act, 2000 where a board of management of a recognised school or a person acting on its behalf is of the opinion that a student should be expelled from that school it shall, before so expelling the student notify the Educational Welfare Service (EWS) of Tusla, of its opinion and the reasons therefore. A student shall not be expelled from a school before the passing of 20 school days following the receipt of a notification under Section 24 by the EWS.
Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department or, - in the case of an Education and Training Board (ETB) school, - to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student, or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a pupil, except in the case of an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld.
Application forms for taking a section 29 appeal are available on my Departments website at the following link: http://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/Appeal-against-Permanent-Exclusion-Suspension-or-Refusal-to-Enrol/Section-29-Appeals-Application-Form.doc, or by contacting Section 29 Administration Unit, Friars Mill Road, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, phone 0761 108588.
In accordance with Section 29 (c) of the Education Act 1998 appeals are dealt with within a period of 30 days from date of receipt.
It is the policy of my Department that all children with Special Educational Needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network. Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.
Some children with special educational needs attend mainstream classes, but some require the environment of a special class or special school. This decision is based on a recommendation contained within a professional assessment in consultation with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). The NCSE plans and co-ordinates the provision of educational support services to children with special educational needs, in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
In circumstances, where the NCSE, through the local Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) confirm that there is no school placement available for a child with Special Educational Needs, my Department's Home Tuition Grant Scheme will provide funding towards the provision of 20 hours tuition per week as an interim measure until a placement is available.
SENOs, who are locally based, are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs. SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.
Parents/Guardians who may need advice or are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement should contact their local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) who can assist in identifying an appropriate educational placement for their child, using the contact details available at http://ncse.ie/seno-contact-list.