Parents threaten legal action over closure of Limerick school

FURIOUS parents are threatening to take legal action after being told they cannot formally appeal the closure of St Enda’s Community School.

FURIOUS parents are threatening to take legal action after being told they cannot formally appeal the closure of St Enda’s Community School.

At a private meeting earlier this month, the City VEC decided to close the school on Kilmallock Road - which has 127 students - due to a decline in student numbers.

And parents - concerned at the loss of a school which also caters for children with learning difficulties - have been told they cannot appeal the decision by Paul Patton, boss of the City VEC.

This, he said, is because the order to close the facility has been made by the joint trustees. Under the Education Act 1998, this means no appeal is possible.

Had the order been made by Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, they could have appealed it, he added.

Now, with the support of Deputy Willie O’Dea, and Mayor Gerry McLoughlin, the parents are to consider alternative options, with one parent, Karol Canty, Glenbrook, confirming a legal challenge is on the table.

Parents will stage a demonstration outside the school later today, while tomorrow, Mr O’Dea is to raise the matter in the Dail.

Meanwhile, those who attended the meeting where the axe fell on the school have refused to divulge the manner in which they voted.

At the monthly meeting of the VEC on Friday, Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon asked the acting chairman Cllr Michael Hourigan on four occasions for the details of the vote to close the school.

On each occasion, Cllr Hourigan said he was not releasing the information, as the meeting was held behind closed doors.

“That meeting was held in committee [private] so no, I am not releasing any details of this,” he said.

It is understood six members of the city VEC - made up of politicians and members of the public - voted in favour of the closure, two voted against it, while the remainder abstained.

But the impasse saw Cllr O’Hanlon leave the meeting in disgust, saying: “It is not a sensitive issue to vote in public to close a school. The public are entitled to know how their representatives are voting.”

Sixty students will be forced to move to a new school as it winds down to a close by 2015, with 30 going in the final two years.

Ms Canty, whose daughter is one of these, believes it will be tough for many of the St Enda’s students to settle into new schools.

She is also worried about the cost, saying: “If my daughter goes to Croom, it will cost her €900 a year for the bus. I cannot afford this - I am a newly separated mum of four.”

Mr Patton believes students settling not present a problem, especially because many will transfer into transition year, which gives them time to adapt.

Students can choose where they go, he added.

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