The Deputy will be aware that under the Education Act 1998, legally, all schools are managed by school Boards of Management, on behalf of the school patrons or trustees, and it is the Board of Management that employ the teachers at the school. Accordingly, whereas I provide funding and policy direction for schools, neither I nor the Department have legal powers to instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction with regards to individual complaint cases, or 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.
In dealing with parental complaints, my Department's role is to clarify for parents how their grievances and complaints against schools can be progressed. 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. Where a parent feels that the school's board of management has failed to investigate or adequately investigate their complaint, they should contact 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. The office can be contacted at Ombudsman for Children's Office, Millennium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin 1, (Ph) 1800 20 20 40 or (01) 8656800, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.