Parents prosecuted after son misses ‘over 50%’ of school days

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

A MARRIED couple in Newcastle West have been taken to court after they allowed their young son to miss over 50% of school days over a period of almost four years.

A MARRIED couple in Newcastle West have been taken to court after they allowed their young son to miss over 50% of school days over a period of almost four years.

The couple, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of their child, appeared before Newcastle West Court last week to face charges from the National Educational Welfare Board over the sustained lack of attendance at school of their son.

The court was told that the couple have “declined” various supports from a number of State agencies and the school’s board of management.

Linda Quinn, welfare board officer, said that the board’s function is to “ensure children attend school on a regular basis”, something which has not taken place in this case “for three or four years”.

Ms Quinn said that the boy missed “over 50%” of the past school year, and that the family has “declined the help of the HSE” and various other agencies.

The court heard that only one week of absence this year was covered by a medical cert, and Ms Quinn said that there has been “no follow through” on past assurances made by the boy’s parents.

Solicitor Kevin Sherry, prosecuting on behalf of the board, said that under law, the maximum penalty for the offence is a fine of €635 and/or one month in prison for each parent.

However Mr Sherry said that the board would be open to the case be adjourned for a number of weeks in order to monitor a recent improvement in attendance.

Solicitor John Lynch, defending, said that since the parents were both issued with a court summons over the case, “attendance has improved dramatically... the summons is working”. Ms Quinn replied that the board do not issue court proceedings against parents “lightly”.

Judge Mary Larkin adjourned the case until March 5.