That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to require the making of an order which will allow parents of children enrolled in public schools to seek an independent, impartial review of any administrative decision made by the relevant board of management or school patron from the Ombudsman for Children to ensure that all managerial decisions are made in compliance with directives and circulars issued by the Department of Education and to ensure the child is at the centre of all such decisions; for that purpose to amend the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002 and to provide for related matters.
I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to introduce this Bill. One of the objectives of this Government is to bring more openness and transparency into every area of life. One of the areas I am examining is school boards of management. Like many other boards, when one brings these boards under scrutiny, very often many of them work very well but in some cases where they do not work or do not do what they are supposed to do, there are very limited avenues available to appeal a decision of a school board of management. The Ombudsman is the only avenue at the moment for any parent who wishes to do so. I have discovered that 9,000 complaints have been submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman since its inception. Of these, 4,000 were related to schools. Of these 4,000 complaints, 3,000 were not investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman because she had no remit. The aim of this legislation is to broaden the remit of the Office of the Ombudsman so that she can investigate complaints and issues raised by parents and so that it is less subjective on her part regarding what she does and does not investigate.