Limerick judge orders probe into mum's claims son was locked into school room

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Limerick judge orders probe into mum's claims son was locked into school room

A JUDGE at a Limerick court has ordered an investigation into claims a young boy is being repeatedly locked into a room at his school.

The claims were made by the mother of the ten-year-old who has been prosecuted over her son’s poor attendance at school.

The proceedings first came before Limerick District Court more than a year ago and there have been nine court hearings since.

Solicitor Kevin Sherry, representing Tusla – the Child and Family Agency, said the fourth-class pupil has missed almost two thirds of all school days over the past three years.

Since the last court date in February, there has been a 41% rate of absenteeism despite warnings that the child’s mother may go to prison.

In evidence, the woman told the court her son was being segregated and locked in a room on his own at school. “He has pleaded with me not to bring him to school.”

When asked for more details, the woman stated she raised concerns with the principal who had advised her it was the “best option for him”.

Having spoken with representatives of Tusla, Mr Sherry said they were  not aware of any such allegations and he questioned why they had not been mentioned previously.

He said the Child and Family Agency is aware the boy was kept in detention on occasion in December and January. However, he told the court he was with other pupils and was supervised by a teacher.

Judge Mary Larkin said the allegations being made by the boy’s mother were “very serious” and she directed that they be “fully investigated” by Tusla and that the principal be brought to court if necessary.

“I want to find out why this child is not going to school,” she said.

During the hearing, the judge suggested that the woman consider allowing her son to be taken into care if she feels she cannot manage him.

“You are the parent, ten year olds do what they are told,” she said adding: “It is an abuse not to send a child to school”.